Kent's worst kept political secret, that the present KPA Chair Ann Barnes would run as an independent candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner, was finally confirmed.
I don't like negative campaigning and shy from it. I simply don't think 'knocking-copy' is good for the political process and, if done badly, can backfire. However, that does not mean that serious and difficult questions should be avoided.
Kent Online reported,
"But announcing her candidacy, she took a sideswipe at the main political parties fielding candidates, claiming they could not be trusted to put Kent first but would be answerable to their political masters."
Note the term "main political parties fielding candidates..." Rumours abound that Mrs Barnes is a Liberal Democrat. Kent Liberal Democrats are not fielding a candidate, and will no doubt endorse an independent. Mrs Barnes is on the record saying she is not a member of any political party, but she needs to clarify if she was a member or donor in the recent past. Her decision to appoint Peter Carroll (a Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate in 2001, 2005 and 2010) as her Campaign Director, will fuel the rumours that she is a Liberal Democrat stooge. It would be disingenuous for Mrs Barnes to campaign as an 'independent' or non-political candidate if she has recently jettisoned her own political activism to enable her to adopt that position.
The second question she needs to answer regards her involvement in the Association of Police Authorities, of which she was Vice Chair. Working in this capacity, Mrs Barnes is on the record attacking the legislation which lead to the creation of Police and Crime Commissioners. The APA received it's funding from the Police Authorities who subscribe to its services, who in turn receive their funding from Council Tax payers. It is a fact that the APA campaigned against the creation of PCCs and, in doing so, spent thousands of pounds of Council Tax-payers money to fund their campaign. Did Mrs Barnes, as Vice Chair of that body, think this was an appropriate use of public funds during as recession?
"It's no secret that the Kent Police Authority members oppose directly elected commissioners," said Mrs Barnes. "We see them as unnecessary. They will have no different or additional powers than the current police authorities, and are a wilful waste of public money."
I blogged just a few days ago on the complete volte face of the APA when they morphed into the Association of Police & Crime Commissioners just days after their failed campaign to stop them coming into existence! Now Mrs Barnes has made a similar Road to Damascus style conversion by announcing her own candidacy for a position she has spent months undermining.
However, when a candidate professes their independence, but appoints a Liberal Democrat activist and three-times Parliamentary candidate as her Campaign Manager, it raises questions about their true allegiances and motives.