As expected, Labour won Thursday’s by-election for the post of West Midlands police and crime commissioner. And as expected, the turnout was pathetic.
Just 10.22% of those eligible to vote took part in the contest. The figure for the previous election in 2012 was 11.96%. I suppose we should be grateful it didn’t slump into single figures this time round. Even so, the backing of one in ten of the electorate is hardly a thunderous endorsement, either for the victor or the position of PCC.
David Jamieson, the winner, received 50.83% of the votes cast: just enough to avoid the count going to a second round. Here are the full figures:
The vote shares for Labour, the Tories and Ukip were all up around eight percentage points, chiefly because only four candidates were standing compared with seven in 2012.
The Lib Dems’ share fell by 0.05 percentage points.
The turnout is the lowest ever recorded for a PCC election. It beats the lowest in 2012, which was in Staffordshire where 11.6% of eligible voters took part.
Jamieson has described the decision to hold a by-election in the middle of summer as “messed up”. His party is consulting on whether to include the scrapping of PCCs in its manifesto for the general election. An announcement is expected in the autumn.
The government’s policing minister Mike Penning said he was “disappointed” by the turnout but added that “around 200,000 people voted, whereas nobody voted for their old police authority.” This is true, but such an argument could be made even if just one person out of the electorate of 1,974,518 had voted. At what point ought principle give way to pragmatism?