John Prescott’s campaign have spoken of the “irony” of the Conservative candidate beating the Labour heavyweight with a voting system opposed by the Tory party, as the post-mortem began on the police commissioner elections.
Prescott failed in his bid to become Humberside police and crime commissioner, ceding the vote to Conservative candidate Matthew Grove on Friday.
In a blog for The Huffington Post UK, David Prescott said turnout across England and Wales for the PCC elections was “shocking”, but said: “I'm enormously proud of what John and our team did. He had the guts to go for it and even when he lost, showed great grace.”
The Conservatives gained a high-profile scalp in the PCC elections
The former deputy prime minister led after the first round of votes in the Humberside race. But after second preference votes were totted up in The Spa, Bridlington, the 74-year-old was overtaken by 2000 votes to Tory local businessman and Councillor Grove.
Speaking on Friday Lord Prescott laughed when someone reminded him it was the first time he had personally lost an election race.
He said: "I've always been winning but I knew when I started it was a marginal seat.
"But it's nothing to be defeated in a democracy, is it?"
Only around one in seven people in England and Wales voted, with 16 Conservative, 13 Labour and 12 independent PCCs elected.
On Friday Cameron was also forced on the defensive over the PCC elections amid criticism from the watchdog, electoral reform campaigners, opposition parties and one of his own backbenchers.
In some cities barely more than 10% voted with Newport City Council telling the Huffington Post UK that at one polling station in the area not one resident voted for their local PCC candidates all day.
The chair of the Electoral Commission Jenny Watson promised to review the turnout.
"These were new elections taking place at an unfamiliar time of year, which is why we have made clear at every stage that it would be important to engage effectively with voters," she said.
"The government took a number of decisions about how to run these elections that we did not agree with.
"But what is important now is that the right lessons are learnt: we will talk to voters, candidates and returning officers to understand what worked and what didn't."
Speaking on Saturday morning the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers Sir Hugh Orde said he did not believe the low turnout weakened the authority of the commissioners.
"The individuals have been properly elected in a democratic process and the issue of numbers is absolutely not one for chief constables," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"What we will be looking forward to is working with these individuals to focus all our resources on keeping the citizens safe. It is as simple and as straightforward as that."
He admitted that it was "going to be quite interesting" to have ex-police officers of a lower rank in a position to hire and fire chief constables.
"I will watch that with interest," he added.
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