MP Who Campaigns Against Second Jobs Holds Second Job

Here’s one for those who like the stench of a politician’s hypocrisy in the summer months.

Paula Sherriff was elected as MP for Dewsbury in May. During her election campaign was that she pledged not to hold a second job as an MP and there is even a page on her website dedicated to a petition to stop MPs holding second jobs. So what is she currently doing? You guessed it.

Sherriff has not resigned her role as district councillor for Pontefract North since winning her parliamentary seat. This would trigger a by-election for a seat that’s up for election in May next year so, I suppose, the idea is just to not bother. However, are the people of Pontefract North getting a fair deal out of this? I somehow doubt it.

What would be the defence? That because each ward has three councillors that it doesn’t matter if one of them suddenly does a disappearing act on her constituents? Well, then, the logical question is whether each ward needs three councillors. If Sherriff is adamant she won’t resign her post (at least until after the point where it would trigger a by-election) then I think we need a fundamental discussion about what our councillors in Wakefield are actually doing to represent their wards.

Alternatively, Sherriff could stick to her promise not to hold two jobs and resign with immediate effect. That would be the sensible and democratic thing to do.

EDIT: Paula Sherriff has just responded to one of my Yorkshire First colleagues on Twitter saying that she no longer draws an allowance for the role nor acts as a councillor for Pontefract North. Still unclear whether this means Pontefract North is being under-represented though…

PCC Problems

Yesterday I came across an issue I hadn’t previously paid much attention to – the ‘forcing out’ of a chief constable by the local PCC in Gwent. What drew my attention to it was the question asking in yesterday’s PMQs which, in my opinion, the Prime Minister answered badly. The case is explained here for anyone who hasn’t come across across it, focusing on the evidence both parties gave to the Home Affairs Select Committee earlier this week.

I was wholly against PCCs in the first place. I thought they added another layer of bureaucracy to a service that was already steeped in it and I worried about the political aspect of things. I firmly believe that politics has no place in policing but something startling in this case is that it seems to be an independent candidate with a similar attitude throwing his weight around. Would it have been so bad if his target hadn’t been a woman? I think whichever way you look at it, targeting someone you freely admit isn’t incompetent just because you have different working styles and viewpoints is wrong. It shouldn’t be for a PCC to remove people who are doing their job because of what seems to be a clash of personalities.

Of course, the fact that a woman was the target comes into play when you read some of the language allegedly involved in the dismissal – the word ‘humiliation’ crops up. I doubt that it would if the chief constable had been male. But what struck me as I watched PMQs yet was that Cameron still has his ‘women problem’, judging by his wholly inadequate response to a question on the subject from Paul Flynn (Lab, Newport West):

Flynn – Was it the Prime Minister’s conception when he set up the office of police and crime commissioner that a fine chief constable such as the one in Gwent should have a career cut short by a vindictive bully who told her to resign or he would humiliate her?

Prime Minister – The point of having police and crime commissioners is to make sure there is proper accountability and that police constables have to account to a local person. That is why a number of former Labour Members of Parliament stood for the post. In some cases, such as that of John Prescott, the people of his region saw sense and rejected him.

In what way is that an answer? How does ‘proper accountability’ for a chief constable equate to them being hounded out of their job? I’d love a fuller explanation from Cameron but I won’t hold my breath.

There will be many more PCC problems in the future. There are already complaints about how much they cost and what precisely their role in. I expect this to come to the fore ahead of the general election but I doubt any party will go into it with the promise to scrap these ridiculous posts.