Monday, 22 October 2012

PCC2012: 'Independent's' Entire Campaign Team Resigns

A candidate campaigning to become one Lincolnshire's new first elected Police and Crime Commissioner has being secretly backed by American lobbyists and companies pushing for police privatisation, The Sunday Telegraph has revealed.

Mr. Mervyn Barrett has been producing expensive leaflets, free DVDs and full-page newspaper adverts in his bid to be elected as next month.

Unusually for a rural, local election, Mr. Barrett has employed professional campaign staff, commissioned weekly opinion polls, opened 'field offices' and is driven in a chauffeured Mercedes, the paper alledges. He has poured tens of thousands of pounds into the elections, far more than any other candidate anywhere else in Britain.

Mr. Barrett describes himself as an 'Independent', who is opposed to 'party politics' in policing. He has pointedly refused to disclose who is funding him, despite widespread local suspicions generated by the intensity and professionalism of his campaign.

At a hustings event held in Boston Mr. Barrett's campaign is described as having 'fallen apart at the seams' when he was not able to develop a 'coherent, cogent argument, let alone find the ability to string three sentences together'. He also was set upon at the hustings by those present for advocating 'cannabis coffee shops' as a part of his drugs policy. Mr. Barrett's professional campaign manager Mr. De Ungar Brown swore numerous times, despite being requested to desist.

The entire campaign team resigned on Saturday, within hours of being contacted by The Sunday Telegraph. Responding to the loss of his campaign team and the article by the paper Mr. Barrett said in a statement:
"I now wish to take time to reflect on both the reaction to the Telegraph article and also to consider how best I could continue my campaign following the resignation of my Campaign Director and Campaign team. I also wish to consult with my legal advisers regarding a number of inaccuracies that the original article contained.

"I will be making no further comment at this stage; however I will be holding a full press conference on Wednesday, 24th October."
The Sunday Telegraph suggested that his campaign has been run by a team from a US-based neo-conservative think tank, the Fund for the New American Century, funded in part by a variety of corporate donors with an interest in public-sector privatisation.

The papers's investigation of Mr Barrett’s campaign website reveals that it is registered to a New York and Washington-based 'political action committee', MatthewPAC, part of The Fund for the New American Century, whose website says it is 'dedicated to building America’s future by supporting candidates who share our vision for reform and innovation'.

The Sunday Telegraph reports it has established that Mr.De Unger Brown, Mr Barrett’s 'special adviser', campaign manager and press spokesman until yesterday, is Chairman of the Fund for the New American Century. Commenting to the newspaper Mr. De Unger Brown said:
"We support Republican candidates. It is a centre-Right organisation.

"I don’t think that neo-con would be an unfair description."
Mr. David Bowles, standing for the Lincolnshire Independent's Party, commented to the paper:
"It is a very slick campaign but it appears that Mervyn is no more than a puppet.

"Every time I have tried to contact him, the response has always come back from Matthew and every time I’ve tried to meet him it’s been Matthew I’ve met instead."
Mr. Bowles claimed that last week Mr. De Unger Brown asked to meet him to discuss the possibility of an electoral deal, with Mr Barrett becoming his deputy, the paper reported.

Conservative candidate Richard Davies, who is front-runner to be Lincolnshire's first Police and Crime Commissioner, said:
"I think he has come into Lincolnshire to try to run a big presidential style political campaign and that does not really work here."
Under Electoral Commission rules independent candidates do not have to reveal their source of donations until ninety days after the ballot. Its guidelines state candidates are able to accept contributions only from 'certain mainly UK-based sources'.

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