Friday, October 03, 2008

Ever the buffoon

It is of course right that Sir Ian Blair is to stand down as Metropolitan Police Commissioner. He arguably should have done so in July 2005 as soon as it became clear that his force had fired seven bullets into the head of an innocent man and that he had given a misleading account of the circumstances surrounding it. He should certainly have done so last November when the force was found guilty of health and safety offences in relation to the said shooting.

But the circumstances of Sir Ian's resignation yesterday - effectively sacked by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson on his first day as chairman of the police authority - raises issues not just about Sir Ian's fitness for the job of Commissioner, but also about Mr Johnson's fitness for the job of Mayor.

As the increasingly impressive Jacqui Smith pointed out in a Question Time performance of cool, controlled anger, there is a clear procedure in place for the removal of a Commissioner involving the police authority - not just its chairman - making a recommendation to that effect to the Home Secretary.

By failing to follow this procedure, and behaving instead like a tinpot dictator, Mr Johnson has not only managed the considerable feat of inducing sympathy for Sir Ian Blair, he has demonstrated once again his deep and ineradicable buffoonery.

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Barnacle Bill said...

I have no sympathy for Sir Blair, as you have pointed out Paul he could have fallen on his sword a lot sooner.
Then again we could argue the Home office failed in not seeking his resignation earlier.
One wonders with the clouds gathering on Sir Blair's horizons if after they had broken people would not be demanding he should have been sacked earlier.
Personally I think Sir Ian has escaped lightly, by going out like this he seems to be the victim, trying to cling on might have ended in tears for him.
Plus I bet he gets a better compensation deal going this way!

Anonymous said...

You play politics for one political party, you can't complain when the other turns round and bites you on the arse.

Good riddance to a public disgrace.

Stephen said...

While I agree entirely with what you say about Blair and Johnson, I certainly take issue when it comes to Ms Smith, another in a long line of New Labour Home Secretaries who are to the right of the Daily Mail in most matters that might be regarded as ones that define moral principles and scruples.

Ms Smith should spend rather longer contemplating the words of Mr Justice Blake when he found for the Gurkha veterans. The conduct of this government, as of its predecessors has been utterly shameful. That Ms Smith should attempt to present the outcome as some sort of endorsement of government policy defies belief. But morals, justice, honour, the simple difference between right and wrong? She understands nothing.

broncodelsey said...

The real issue is the culture that has developed under New Labour,however poor you are at your job,however incompetent you don't get fired,and of course New Labour doesn't do resignations.

I thought Jaqui Smith was absolutely pathetic last night,you have a totally incompetent policeman in a top job that should have been fired in 2005,or last year when he lost the case with H&S,or indeed at the very minimum stepped aside whilst the numerous other allegations of racism and other aspects of his behaviour were investigated.
Instead you get the idiot Smith talking about 'we have processes',yes processes that last 3 years to investigate whilst the incompetent is still allowed to keep their job,processes which would have long continued after his term of office had finished,what absolute crap.

On a broader point,how can you keep someone in this important job when the electorate,police authority and politicians have lost confidence in their ability?

Thank you Boris.

The Half-Blood Welshman said...

Sorry, Paul, simply don't agree with her. After an election which was fought largely on crime, if anyone had a right to demand Blair's resignation, it was Boris Johnson. The reason he didn't go through proper procedures is probably because he knew that Jacqui Smith would ignore any attempt to remove a Commissioner sympathetic to the government, so he side-stepped her. Good job too. The responsibility for policing in London should lie with the Mayor, not the current anomalous system from 1829. The whole system needs shaking up - maybe this is the right moment to do it.

The whole thing is in any case a side-issue - because, party appointment or not, Ian Blair would not have gone had he been seen as generally successful (as other political appointments have been - see here). The fact is he was under fire for personal and institutional failings, and he had to go. If Smith (who is cliché-ridden rather than impressive, in my view) wouldn't bite the bullet, credit to Johnson for doing so.

James Higham said...

Hardly tinpot, Paul. London is a fairly large place, after all.