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John Rentoul

John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting fellow at Queen Mary, University of London, where he teaches contemporary history. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning.

"The Independent's must-read man" - Daniel Finkelstein

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The police against democracy

Posted by John Rentoul
  • Monday, 7 September 2009 at 02:26 pm
Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, advances some of the most pathetic arguments against democratic accountability for the police in an interview in The Independent today.

1. The public aren't interested enough to turn out to vote.

2. If they do, they may elect a "lunatic".

3. For example, the BNP.

4. It may not be possible to control who can stand (the "Iranian" argument): "You could have any Tom, Dick or Harriet standing."

As for the BNP scaremongering, I cannot imagine that a BNP candidate for police commissioner could possibly be elected under any preferential voting system in this country.

Curiously, Chris Grayling, the shadow Home Secretary who is the target of Sir Hugh's sarcasm, is nowhere to be seen or heard. Perhaps he was so embarrassed by the response to his venture into television criticism that he has gone to a nunnery, but if I were he, I would give an interview thanking Sir Hugh for making the Conservatives' case for them.


rma_reborn wrote:
Monday, 7 September 2009 at 01:55 pm (UTC)
While Sir Orde does, indeed, tread the thin line between lunacy and laughability with this statement, he does raise an issue - too few voters take an active interest in their democracy these days. The dangers he mentions might be projected across the board.

More specifically, though, he does indeed sound like a man scared that great public involvement in the police will make them more accountable and therefore less able to get away with whatever they like.
Against democratic accountability for the police
alfalan wrote:
Monday, 7 September 2009 at 10:50 pm (UTC)
There is, of course, the danger of voter apathy, after all look at the current Government.
They may elect a "lunatic"; indeed they may, again look at the present leader of the Government.
..."For example the BNP" Who is BNP?
Or is this the British National Party? If so what gives Orde the right to class the BNP as lunatic?
I think you are quite correct. Orde makes a perfect case for returning the police to proper democratic control. We may then get police forces who uphold and enforce the law, instead of the politically correct and politicised organisations they have become. Perhaps the next stage would be to elect our judges.



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