While it seems overwhelming likely that Conservative and Labour and independents will dominate the upcoming elections, it is positive news that other parties have decided to increase their number of candidates fielded. This is important for diversity of views in the institution. The prospects of a higher turnout is also good news, given that higher participation levels are associated with a stronger perception of legitimacy. It would be a great triumph for the newly established elections.
It was four years ago while speaking at a public meeting on society's responsibility to tackle domestic abuse that I was approached by Irene (not her real name), a lady in her late seventies. She told me that her 40-year marriage had been abusive but her husband, whom she had loved, had now been dead 10 years. I still remember how she gripped both of my hands in hers as she whispered, "I'm now having the time of my life"...
The press has a role to play in scandals of this type. We need them to highlight this kind of horror and help us try to understand how such sickening events can continue for so very long unhindered. But we need them to do it responsibly. Deciding that one person is to blame for a situation which has been going on for decades - and is probably going on in other areas of the country too - does them no credit.
The introduction of Police & Crime Commissioners was a genuinely radical move. Unaccountable bureaucracies were replaced with a single, elected, accountable person. PCCs should make policing more democratic and transparent. They should be driving a revolution in the relationship between the police and the people. They should be doing great things.
Handing over the keys to some of our most precious public services isn't something that should be done lightly, particularly when public trust is at stake. As a head of a country wide charity that deals with more than a million people each year, I'm acutely aware of the fragility of trust when delivering public services.
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, John Prescott lost on second preferences, thanks to the supplementary vote system. Oh the irony of the Tories beating a Labour heavyweight with a form of PR that they actively campaigned against in the AV Referendum.
Anyone seeking elected office needs to rely on the media to help spread word of their activities and policies. This is particularly true for independent candidates, who lack access to an active supporter base that are well used to running campaigns, distributing leaflets and contacting voters. That has not happened here and while it is understandable that some object to the very idea of electing PCC's that does not change the situation: there will be an election for them on Thursday and voters should have been better served in learning about the candidates and their policies.
The idea that this is a genuine exercise in localism just simply isn't credible, because the coalition is only interested in devolving power to two sectors: the private and the voluntary. If you want to know what Cameron and Osborne really think of local government, go and count the number of empty offices at council buildings across the land.