During an election campaign I receive many requests from organised lobby groups, special interest groups and campaigns asking me to endorse their positions, adopt their manifestos, sign up to their specific policy positions etc. Whilst I recognise this is entirely legitimate activity and is useful in informing public debate on a number of important matters, I have always made it a matter of policy not to sign up to these campaigns, whether I agree with them or not.
I have done this for a number of reasons. Firstly, I think it is important that I set out my own positions to the public during the election campaign rather than adopting pre-prepared positions supplied by others. I have published a detailed manifesto which sets out not only my general principles but also specific proposals which I intend to implement if elected. It is on that which I would ask voters to base their judgement rather than third party material. I am happy to engage in debate on any topic during the campaign and will read the material sent but I will not sign up to portmanteau policy positions provided by others.
Secondly, as PCC I have always listened to and consulted with the public while preparing my Police and Crime Plan and other strategies. That process of engagement is vital in shaping a great many of the specifics of those plans. I want to listen to the arguments on all sides and use the process properly to understand where the community in Hertfordshire stands on the issues. That process would be inhibited if I signed up in advance to the huge range of detailed proposals put forward by campaigns and special interest groups. Don’t get me wrong, I welcome their input, the information they provide and the arguments they deploy are both legitimate and helpful but I believe they are best used as part of that broad engagement process rather than quickly ticked off as part of an election shopping list.
The groups that approach me often tell me that whether their members will vote for me or not depends on whether I have signed up specific policies they advocate. I accept this may be true but for the reasons stated I am happy to be judged by the voters on my principles, my record and my manifesto.