Thursday, 2 October 2008

Blair gone at last

I hear that Sir Ian Blair is to resign as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. "He has got so isolated in his top position that I haven't been able to find one senior officer who supports him or has any faith left in his leadership", reports Telegraph crime correspondent Richard Edwards. The rank and file, it need hardly be said, never could stand him. One sergeant commenting on a police forum today opined that "he has behaved like an idiot from day one".

However welcome, his departure is three years too late. And it isn't even for the right reason. He should have resigned over his disastrous mishandling of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes: not just because of his personal incompetence, but more importantly to demonstrate that he took responsibility for the force he was supposed to be leading. Instead, he responded to the conviction of the Met last year for criminal negligence by attacking the CPS and the jury. And he is only going now, according to the Telegraph, "over an investigation into the awarding of £3 million worth of lucrative Met police contracts to a friend and skiing companion."

Blair, for his part, is blaming Boris. "Without the mayor's backing I couldn't continue" he said. Well done Bozza.

My delight is tempered somewhat by the near certainty that Blair will have negotiated for himself a very neat severance package, and will no doubt soon turn up chairing some committee or other. He may even, like his two immediate predecessors, end up in the House of Lords. Blair's resignation removes the delicious prospect of a public showdown with his nemesis Tariq Ghaffur, who is accusing his old boss of racial discrimination.

No doubt the threat by London mayor Boris Johnson to hold a vote of no confidence in Blair's leadership tipped the scales, enabling this self-described "limpet" to be prised off. Previously he has been protected by his closeness to successive Labour home secretaries - whose initiatives, however politically controversial, he could always be relied upon to defend in public - and by his bizarre friendship with Ken Livingstone. His departure thus says something about the shifting balance of power in British politics. Not only is he Boris's first scalp, but his replacement may signal the end of the the discredited model of policing with which he has been associated, where catching criminals has come second to the pursuit of political and social engineering objectives.

Blair is the first serving Commissioner to resign in more than a century. James Munro went in 1890 after failing to catch Jack the Ripper. Fancy that: someone resigning because he wasn't up to the job. How very 19th century.

1 comment:

therealalekid said...

He's Gone, Huzzah. Far, far to late in my opinion. Jacqui Smiths decison to turn the spot light and blame Bojo for his resignation is another nail in the coffin the NuLab.