It is every young, black male's worst nightmare. You're driving around central Hull in an upmarket German sports car, minding your own business, just listening to the stock market report on Radio 3, and thinking about Puccini. Then: a flash of blue lights, a siren, a hand gesture. You pull over. A face in your window. John Prescott's face. His endless, jowly, unhappy face.
“Hello, Lord Officer John,” you announce.
“License, please, sir.” He drawls the last word and in a heartbeat, you realise you've just been racially profiled by the newly elected police commissioner of Hull.
“Surely, Lord Officer John,” you state, in measured tones, “when setting policing policy, you should be obliged to prioritise the rights of the individual to go about unmolested, over the rights of the collective to have a poorly-demonstrated marginal improvement in their safety and security? The punishment of the innocent outweighs the weight of the guilty.”
“Look,” Prezza says, three donuts stacked on his nightstick, his uniform somewhere between that of Robocop, a Swiss Guard and an Austro-Hungarian Archduke, “I have been directly elected by the people of Hull. My mandate comes from them, not some daft local police authority diversity charter. So I will do what the heck I like, laddie.”
Pausing only to nod sagely, you whip a gat from the glovebox and ice the fat, fuzz fuck, spinning your jewel-encrusted rims as you scream off towards Market Weighton.
Welcome to the future. A future you chose. Well, sort of chose. Well, basically one line in a manifesto that no one seemed particularly interested in at the time, but, like a lot of lines in manifestos, actually turned out to be something people want to try in real life.
In November, for the first time ever, Britain will have 44, US-style police commissioners, directly elected not just by croney elites or the people of Hull, but by you and I. The logic behind this Tory pledge is simple: need to save a shitload of money? Easy. Let central government set the overall budget, then wash your hands of the logistics of actually making those cuts and let the locals scrabble over who gets to cut what, where.
Politically, it makes a lot of sense. The problem that no one seems to have foreseen is that there was always a risk the list of candidates would read like a punchline. At present, it's like a bizarre B-roll from I'm A Celebrity. Crimewatch presenter Nick Ross was once in the frame. Colonel Tim Collins, most famous for making a speech on Sky News, is bidding for Kent. Simon Weston, the Falklands veteran most famous for burning 60 percent of his body off, is bidding for South Wales. They're just a Lembit Opik and an Anne Diamond away from Fat Camp Boot Camp Celebrity Wife Swap USA.
That is, before Sunday, when the star wattage of Prezza set the race alight when he stuck his name down for the Humberside job. Prescott was already elevated to the House of Lords. Elevated above his own principles, in fact, given that he's a man who's spent much of his life saying the House of Lords should be abolished. Unfortunately, during the elevation process, no one told him that, for all the prestige, the annual salary of a Noble Lord is £0,00.
In an earlier age, Prezza would've boosted his earnings by coring out expenses. This, after all, is a man who used £300 of taxpayers' money to get himself, his mates and their lardy arses rotated slowly round the London Eye, and who spent £450 at one sitting in Mr Chua's, his favourite Chinese restaurant in Hull. But all of those loopholes have been plugged now, so the £100,000 a year salary to be an elected police commissioner must sound like tinkling laughter to his ears. This, after all, is the man who nearly brought us all the most meaningless limbo of governing history: Regional Assemblies, mini-parliaments for Yorkshire, Wessex and so on, to squat in-between various other bureacratic Dante-pastries. He knows very well where the non-jobs are kept.
And he knows very well how to keep them: he is a fighter, and a born political survivor. If he wants to secure re-election, he will have to roll with the angry mob: he will have to set local policing priorities in line with what the public want. And what do the public want? To rough up blacks. Except in Bradford, where they will want to rough up whites. So, like all of his commissioner compatriots, Prezza will bow to the inevitable, and unleash fresh waves of vicious race war upon the North East.
Then, by 2016, as a 76-year-old man with an obesity problem and a temper, he will undoubtedly become the first elected police commissioner to die in office. He will be buried in a full, ermine-lined police uniform. His coffin will look like a rag 'n bone man's wagon. Democracy will be the big winner.
Illustration by Joss Frank