Why you need to vote for your Police Commissioner

The below is the text of a letter I wrote, published in the present Wokingham Times, in response to an earlier letter written by Green Party activist Marjory Bisset. In it, Marjory calls on Wokingham residents to boycott the Police Commissioner elections in protest against their imposition.

As you will see below, this is not a position with which I agree.

I was, I must admit, somewhat surprised to read Marjory Bisset’s letter in last week’s Wokingham Times advocating, on behalf of the Green Party, a boycott of the Police and Crime Commissioner elections. Whilst I share her scepticism about the new position, hers is, unfortunately, a position lacking pragmatism.

That these elections are going to happen is an unavoidable truth. Elected police commissioners are a Conservative policy and the Conservative Party has its eye on taking control of as many police forces as possible – including in the Thames Valley.

Over the last two and a half years I think we’ve seen all we need to of Tory policing policy. Budget cutbacks, accompanied by nonsense about not cutting the “front lines”, even as we see those front lines suffering. The former Chief Whip’s comments have shown just what the Tories think of police officers – and, indeed, the rest of us “plebs”.

As for the Conservative candidate in the Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld, his website demonstrates he is a man bankrupt of ideas to improve policing, and with neither the experience nor the imagination to have any. Indeed, his one policy that I have been able to find so far is that the new Police Commissioner should have a dedicated car and chauffeur. Whose priorities are these?

Residents of Wokingham should think carefully about whether this is a man, and a party, they want in control of their police force. If not, then the answer is not to boycott the vote – an action which can only hand victory to the Conservatives – but to read the policy pledges of the other candidates, and turn out to vote on November 15th.

Matthew S. Dent

Twyford & District Labour Party

You’ll only get one chance to make this choice. After November 15th, you’ll be stuck with the winner for three and a half years. Take this opportunity. Use your vote to choose the best candidate.


Wokingham Election Results – An Analysis

The results of Wokingham’s 2012 local elections are in…

I’ve had a few hours now to reflect on the results of the Wokingham local elections, and to do some some fancy arithmetic with the numbers to get a full picture of how the votes played out across the borough.

There were a total of 31,630 votes cast between the hours of 7am and 10pm in the borough as a whole. I don’t yet have the information on turnout, but it doesn’t seem terribly good- probably around 30%. The weather contributed to this, doubtless, but there has been a slump in turnout across the country.

Here is a table of information on the election, showing the number of seats won by each party, the gains that it means for them, the total votes they received, and how that stands as a percentage of the overall vote (Note: I’ve rounded the percentage figures to one decimal place, which is why the total comes to 100.1%).

Seats Gains Votes Percentage
CON 13 -2 15,345 48.5%
LD 4 +1 7,643 24.2%
LAB 0 0 3,862 12.2%
GREEN 0 0 2,378 7.5%
UKIP 0 0 1,733 5.5%
IND 1 +1 496 1.6%
Spoilt 183 0.6%

There were 18 seats up for election this year, which is a third of the council, and the Tories lost two. Somehow (think #wokyrubbish) the Liberal Democrats managed to buck the national trend, and actually gain a seat in Winnersh. The independent Nick Ray (about whom I know embarrassingly, well, nothing) taking Charvil from Tory incumbent Emma Hobbes was the shock of the day really.

Firstly, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed. I had held private hopes of Labour winning a seat- Greg Bello came agonisingly close in Bulmershe & Whitegates, and I maintain he would have been a superb representative. I’m also disappointed that I came third after a candidate who did no campaigning at all, but I did significantly increase my share of the vote. Thank you to everyone who came along to help me campaign, and especially to everyone who voted for me.

The results show, I think, Labour as the solid third party of the borough. The Greens get fourth place, largely out of the number of candidates they stood (they didn’t poll badly, but only Marjorie Bisset in Shinfield South posed any serious challenge). I’m still waiting for any signs of this supposed UKIP breakthrough.

There are several lessons I take from these results with regard to improving Labour’s performance. The first is that we need to stand a full slate of candidates. We can’t be seen as a credible challenger in the borough unless we’re fielding candidates all across it.

Secondly, there was a distinct lack of canvassing all across Wokingham. I worked hard knocking doors and distributing leaflets, and so did my opponents (well, one of them did). But many of the returned Conservative councillors didn’t do a thing by all accounts. There are so many votes that are there to be picked up, if only we could run even a minimal campaign- and not to mention a get the vote out operation.

The next election isn’t until 2014, so that gives us two years to look at what needs to be done, and take steps to do it. Labour is here in Wokingham, and we’re not going away any time soon.

An Election Day Letter to the People of Remenham, Wargrave & Ruscombe

Dear residents

Today is the day; election day. And the polls are now open, the ballot papers are now read, and I sincerely hope that somewhen in the next fifteen hours you will all be making your way to the polling station to cast your votes.

I have spent the last few weeks working hard, talking to you and distributing leaflets, and offering my policies and stances on the local issues that matter to you. I sadly haven’t managed to speak to all of you, but most of you will by now have seen my leaflet. And if you haven’t, and would still like to, I have made it available online here.

I wanted to take this last opportunity to simply remind you of the importance of your ballot paper. When you stand in the polling booth, you will hold in your hands the power to influence the course that your local government takes. And it is your local government. I know it hasn’t always felt like that, I know that the council haven’t listened to your views, your concerns, your opinions.

But the ballot box is the one thing they cannot ignore.

I have laid out the changes I would make, and how I would conduct myself differently if elected as your councillor. I would put your views and interests first, and I would push the council to consult more and listen more.

The disaster that has been the new rubbish scheme has shown what happens when council stagnates. There is no meaningful debate of ideas, and the assumption that those in power are right presides. The new scheme has been proved ill thought out from the start, and the Conservatives must accept blame for it.

I humbly ask you, today, for your trust, your support and your vote. Throughout this campaign I have tried my utmost to maintain an atmosphere of honesty (I was not afraid to hold my hands up when I got things wrong) and keep the focus on local issues that are within the ambit of the local authority. This is what I would strive to maintain in office.

With that said, I invite you to examine my policies once more. Besides my leaflet, I have made my own views and policies fully available on this blog, and you can read through those blogs here.

I thank you for the time you have invested in reading this, and all of the thousands of other words I have written.

Matthew S. Dent

Labour and Co-operative Party candidate

Remenham, Wargrave & Ruscombe

Are You Registered to Vote?

It’s that time once again. On May 3rd, the polling stations across Wokingham Borough will open and there will be ballot papers waiting for your cross on them. This year there are 18 seats being contested across the borough, and there are real issues at stake.

I am not a neutral party in this, I would like to make that perfectly clear from the start. I am the Labour and Co-operative candidate for Remenham Wargrave and Ruscombe. In the coming weeks, I will be asking for the votes of residents, and explaining why they should say yes.

The democratic process, whilst not without fault, does put ultimate decision-making power in the hands of those ultimately affected by said decisions. And with residents angry at the moment over bin bags, planning decisions, libraries and a host of other complaints, the power to choose your representative has never been more important.

Any UK citizen over the age of 18, who is not incarcerated, is eligible to vote. In addition, EU citizens resident in the UK can vote in local elections, as can Commonwealth citizens who have leave to remain. But you have to be on the electoral roll.

Most people are on the electoral roll automatically, but you can check with Wokingham electoral services either

By phone: 0118 974 6522 / 0118 974 6523

By email:

Or in person: at the council offices, at Shute End, Wokingham, RG40 1WH

They’re very nice, and don’t bite. I promise. And if you aren’t register you have until 18th April 2012 to register in time to vote on May 3rd.

The reason that I’m posting this here, is because I can’t find it at all on the Wokingham website. I don’t care who you vote for, me or someone else. But people died so that we could vote, so the least you can do is turn up on the day and mark the paper. If you don’t like anyone who’s standing you can spoil your ballot- that way your vote will be recorded without you giving your support to anyone.

The important thing, though, is that you can’t use your vote if you’re not registered to

(If you’re not a resident in Wokingham borough, it is just as important that you exercise your vote. Apathy and low turnout defeat democracy. If you want to find out how to check whether you’re registered, the About My Vote website is a fantastic place to start)