Just when you start to think that politics could not descend any further into the cesspit of disgraceful opportunism, along comes another piece of low life ready to plumb new depths of disrespect.
Wolverhampton councillor Bob Jones was elected as the first Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands on November 15th 2012. He died suddenly on Tuesday 1st July 2014 aged 59. By all accounts and judging from the many tributes paid to him from across the political spectrum, he was very good at his job even though he stated that Police and Crime Commissioners were not a terribly good idea in a mature and open democracy. Those that knew him and even those that politically opposed him are unanimous in their admiration for this good and honest man.
The election of the Police and Crime Commissioner in 2012 was marked by a woeful turnout of just 12 per cent, but Bob Jones led the first round with 100,000 votes as opposed to his nearest rival who polled 44,000 votes. When the second preference votes were totalled, Bob Jones was elected with an emphatic 68 per cent of the votes cast. At the bottom of the first round pile was a person called Mike Rumble who, standing as an Independent, polled 5.4 per cent of the vote.
Shortly after coming last, the former police officer and businessman stopped being independent and joined the Farage army. Proud to be a front line police constable and police detective, Mr Rumble did not have any involvement with the notorious and now mercifully disbanded West Midlands Serious Crime Squad. The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 was fast tracked through parliament to impose PCCs and so politicise policing. Section 51 of the Act deals with the election to “fill vacancy in the office of commissioner” should a “relevant event” result in the discovery that the PCC was “bent” as they used to say in the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad.
Bob Jones was not “bent” and was, in fact, an increasingly rare example of an honourable, hard-working and decent human being who also happened to be a politician. The cobbled together Act at least included a protocol for removing a corrupt commissioner but did not make specific provision for the death of a serving PCC. Sub-section 4 of Section 51 states that an election must take place “not more than 35 days after the relevant event” and sub-section 5b defines the relevant event as “any other case, the giving of notice of the vacancy to the appropriate officer by two or more relevant electors”. About 72 hours after it had become know that Bob Jones had died; two voters in the West Midlands gave notice of the vacancy to the appropriate officer.
One of those voters turns out to be a person called Mike Rumble.
Presumably, the person called Mike Rumble fears that without the immediate election of a PCC, the West Midlands will descend into unbridled criminality and lawless anarchy. After a comprehensive rejection at the PCC election in 2012, the person called Mike Rumble sniffed the air of bigoted populism and threw in his lot with the Farage circus. Another defeated candidate in the 2012 PCC election is a person called Bill Etheridge who, it seems, threw in his lot with the Farage circus after he proved himself to be too unpleasant even for the Conservative Party. In the European elections in May, the person called Bill Etheridge was able to pack his golliwogs and say goodbye to a life without a huge European salary plus expenses and can now spent some time in Brussels not doing very much except sticking his fingers in his ears and going “la la la la la” every time he is forced to listen to Beethoven.
There seems to be a pattern emerging regarding the character of those attracted to Farage. They tend to be not very bright, fiercely ambitious regardless of the lack of any actual ability and display a monumental absence of anything resembling self-awareness, dignity or decency. With an unshakable belief in their own negativity, they walk a tightrope that, at best, allows them to remain merely offensive rather than straying into illegality. In triggering the election process so quickly after a bereavement, the astonishing lack of respect and total insensitivity displayed by the person called Mike Rumble marks a new low in the political gutter. Hiding behind flawed legislation to further his own ambition is an insult not just to a grieving family but also to the electorate this chancer is trying to fool. The person called Mike Rumble said:
“The legislation is quite clear that an election must be called within 35 working days and I have contacted the returning officer to alert him of his legal responsibilities”.
How nice; what a gentleman.
So the election will take place on August 21 with a guaranteed turnout of less than 12 per cent due to apathy, irrelevance and the summer holidays. This will suit the person called Mike Rumble and the Farage circus as without any other policy other than small-minded xenophobia; they might just be capable of herding enough gullible supporters in the general direction of a polling station to avoid the humiliation of another crushing defeat. The person called Mike Rumble might, in his interpretation of bodged law, wish to consider the definition of “relevant event”. The death of a good man is certainly relevant, but viewed through the perspective of common human decency; the definition of relevant might even be something called a funeral.
It is quite wrong to wish misfortune on anyone, but when faced with a character as insensitive and opportunist as the person called Mike Rumble, I am willing to make an exemption. I hope that August 21 brings about his political funeral. I`m sure his family will understand.