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David Prescott

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If Only we Had 2,232 Alices

Posted: 17/11/2012 10:50

I'm typing this on the train back to London after spending the last two weeks trying to get John elected.

He spent the last year trying to get selected as Labour's candidate and then elected as one of the first Police and Crime Commissioners.

I'll write a bit more about the campaign for Labourlist next week but I want to share this with you.

Turnout across England and Wales was shocking and though our region had amongst the highest at 19.5%, Hull was only 15.6%, with some polling stations on the day as low as 6%.

But Alice wasn't put off by the arguments against voting.

She called our phone asking for a lift to the polling station. Turns out she was 86, almost blind with a wooden leg called Oscar (Her granddaughter named it for her.)

Alice was proud that she'd voted Labour in Hull for more than 60 years and never missed an opportunity to back JP.

So I drove her to the polling station off Holderness Road in the Jag only to be told by the officials that as she was registered for a postal so couldn't vote.

Her face sank and her pleas were politely and guiltily repelled by the polling station staff. She was convinced her vote would get John elected and wanted to help him.

I kept reassuring her as we went back to the car that she shouldn't worry about it. That it really wouldn't have made the difference. But as we were about to drive away, there was a shout.

The polling official ran out clutching her advice pamphlet on electoral law. It turned out Alice could vote if she got an amended ballot from the Guildhall.

She almost jumped out of the car with the excitement. So 30 minutes later, I returned with her ballot paper and she made her mark - with a little help from the staff - for John.

As I dropped her off, he asked for a hug saying she couldn't have lived with herself if she hadn't voted for him.

And I started to well up.

Alice was one of 33,282 people who voted for JP yesterday, overturning a notional Tory seat with a 30,000 vote majority to a Labour lead of 3,842.

But in spite of winning three of the four local authorities - Hull, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire - that make up the Humberside Police area and winning the popular vote via Fast Past the Post, JP lost on second preferences, thanks to the supplementary vote system.

Even on this, we were still leading with a 2,223 vote cushion after Hull, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire's second references were redistributed.

But the second preferences for the Tory candidate in the affluent East Riding area proved too much and we lost by just 2,231 votes.

Oh the irony of the Tories beating a Labour heavyweight with a form of PR that they actively campaigned against in the AV Referendum.

Anyway, as I drove John and Pauline back home from the count in Bridlington, there was a call.

It was Alice ringing to commiserate. She told us not to be downhearted and that we'd made her proud.

So we made a detour and turned up on her doorstep as a surprise. And we gave her a Commissioner's badge.

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.

But it's people like Alice who made this campaign worthwhile.

If only we could have found another 2,232 like her.

john prescott

 

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