Paul’s Campaign Diary

Sussex shopworkers support Paul Richards

I took part in the BBC Radio Sussex candidates’ debate, with my Conservative, Liberal Democrat, and Green opponents. BBC legend Danny Pike was in the chair. Within five minutes, the Green and the Lib Dem declared they didn’t think the role of Police and Crime Commissioner should even exist. This neatly separated the two serious candidates from the others. For the record, I think the role should not only exist, but that it presents a serious opportunity to shape policing in Sussex.

Having established who is serious, and who is not, we debated the issues. For students of politics, this is a classic incumbent-versus-insurgent campaign. My Conservative opponent has to defend her, and her party’s, record over the past decade-and-a-half. That’s why I pressed her on the 20,000 cuts to police under the Tories, and on shoplifting which has dramatically increased since she took the national lead on shoplifting. She claims this is because more people are reporting it. I think it’s because more people are shoplifting – at least that’s what retailers tell me.

Talking of shops, my Conservative opponent made the claim that a member of the shopworkers’ union USDAW had written to a local paper in support of her candidature. I pointed out on air that USDAW, who I have been working closely with on the issue of retail crime, is a trade union affiliated to the Labour Party.

A day later, and completely out of the blue, I received a lovely email from Paddy Lillis, the general secretary of Usdaw, in which he says:

“Following the personal comments of an individual member of our National Executive Council to the West Sussex County Times, I wanted to write to you to make it clear that USDAW fully and wholeheartedly formally endorses your candidature to be the next Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex. Retail crime, and in particular the abuse, threats and violence our members on the frontline, in retail suffer all too often, is a huge issue for us as a union. I know that you are committed to working with us and our members to tackle it and that you have supported our Policing Pledge.”

And also Paddy says:

“Paul is a committed supporter of our campaign to make our members’ workplaces and their local high streets safer for everyone. I know that with Paul as Sussex’s Police and Crime Commissioner, local people would have someone who would tackle head on the all too frequent abuse and violence our members face while simply going about their daily jobs.”

So that clears up that. As the debate progressed, listeners were clear that this is a two-horse race, with two serious candidates offering competing policies and visions for the future of policing in Sussex. We have a Green who didn’t mention climate change once, and a Lib Dem who doesn’t think the job should exist. This is not a job for the muddled-headed, half-hearted, or cold-hearted. This is time for change.