Police race gets a cash boost as poll draws in
CANDIDATES in the race for the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner post have been given a multi-million pound boost from the Electoral Commission (EC).
The move follows a growing fear that the turnout for the poll in Kent could be tiny for the government's flagship policy on law and order.
The EC is planning to set aside £3.6 million on television adverts and a booklet distributed to every household in England and Wales from the middle of October – when nominations close – until polling day on November 15.
The campaign is in addition to a £1.5m Home Office drive on TV, radio and in the press to try and engage voters in the election.
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In Kent, where there are some 1.2 million voters and with a low turnout expected, the focus will be shifted to winning the postal vote, of which there are an estimated 170,000 across the county.
One senior Tory, who has been watching the progress of candidate Craig Mackinlay, said the postal vote is "crucial" to the outcome.
He added: "The postal vote is about ten per cent of the vote overall. They are much more inclined and motivated to vote than the casual voter on polling day. They don't have to leave their homes.
"So they are going to be absolutely crucial in the weeks leading up to November 15. Craig knows that, we all know that. But to the wider public it is the secret battle in the war."
It is perhaps that vote which has motivated independent candidate Ann Barnes – who stands on a non-political ticket – to be so vociferous in calling for the field to be given free mail shots direct to electors as they might in other elections.
She is unlikely to succeed, despite handing in a petition on behalf of independent candidates from all over the country who felt similarly aggrieved.
Instead her campaign team has waged a relentless war in the media, trying to get the message across in the press, radio, TV and the internet.
This week, they were due to bring Martin Bell, a former BBC war correspondent who fought and won the Tatton constituency in 1997, to Rochester to lend his support to the independents.
Mr Bell has previously backed the efforts of independent movements in both Dover and Shepway.