Can Ann pull it off again in the po­lice poll fight?

The in­tro­duc­tion of di­rectly-elected po­lice com­mis­sion­ers four years ago di­vided opin­ion. De­spite the crit­i­cism, the se­cond elec­tion takes place in May. Political editor looks ahead to the race

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Commissioner Election -

In 2012, Ann Barnes, the for­mer chair­man of Kent Po­lice Au­thor­ity, pulled off some­thing of a coup when she suc­ceeded in outmanoeuvring her political ri­vals to be­come Kent’s first elected po­lice com­mis­sioner on a salary of £85,000.

Helped by Peter Car­roll, a wily elec­tion cam­paigner for the Lib­eral Democrats, she mas­ter­minded a well-or­gan­ised cam­paign that traded heav­ily on the pub­lic dis­quiet that com­mis­sion­ers would politi­cise polic­ing.

As an in­de­pen­dent can­di­date, her mes­sage was sim­ple: vote for me if you don’t want party pol­i­tics to get in the way of solv­ing crime.

The as yet unan­swered ques­tion is whether she in­tends to have an­other run at the role. If she does, and many ex­pect she will, it would be a bold move.

Few com­mis­sion­ers have at­tracted as much at­ten­tion, and she has stretched to its lim­its the con­ven­tional wis­dom that there is no such thing as bad pub­lic­ity.

A fi­asco over the ap­point­ment of a youth com­mis­sioner, her par­tic­i­pa­tion in a Chan­nel 4 doc­u­men­tary which led to wide­spread ridicule and a car crash in Dart­ford that led to an IPCC in­quiry have blot­ted her copy­book.

Could she win against such a che­quered track record?

Bizarre though it might seem, it is not to­tally out of the ques­tion. There is still a sense that the role should be apo­lit­i­cal.

A crowded field and the un­pre­dictabil­ity of where vot­ers might ex­press their se­cond pref­er­ence could aid her prospects.

On the other hand, ri­val can­di­dates will waste no time dur­ing the cam­paign to re­mind the elec­torate of her track record.

And it is that which may, if she chooses to run, prove fa­tal to her chances.

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