Sir Ian Blair sacking: since when did Paul Dacre decide senior police appointments?


5:01 pm - October 3rd 2008

by Dave Osler    


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You wouldn’t expect a leftie to mount an out-and-out defence of the track record of Britain’s top copper, and I’m certainly not going to do that.

The de Menezes killing happened on Sir Ian Blair’s watch, yet the worst consequence for the Metropolitan Police was a conviction for breach of health and safety regulations, as if the offence was of no more import than leaving packing cases blocking a fire escape.

This, despite the fact that Blair breached his statutory duty to refer the incident to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

As to the accusations that he favoured his white mates for promotion over better-qualified black and Asian officers, it’s not our job to take sides in Scotland Yard office politics.

On the basis of what I’ve read, I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. But ultimately the issue will be decided before the relevant industrial tribunals, as is proper in such cases.

Then again, it does seem that he bunged another pal a lucrative public money PR contract, which while not necessarily improper, is bloody silly thing to do when you know that the political heat is on. That provided just the pretext Boris Johnson needed to administer the sack.

But Blair had plus points, too. The most important of these – in the wake of the 1999 Macpherson report, which blasted the Met’s ‘institutional racism’ – is an apparently sincere commitment to what is known as anti-racist policing

Many on the left have got difficulty with the phrase ‘anti-racist policing’, so let’s put it another way. Blair at least made it plain that open racism would no longer be tolerated in London’s police force. That was something that needed to be done.

As it goes, the Met is the closest thing I have got to a family business. My grandad and two uncles were all plods. The degree of overt racial prejudice they displayed was shocking. One of them – a licensed firearms officer, now thankfully retired – routinely referred to black people as ‘sooties’. Macpherson didn’t hear the half of it.

As a poster child progressive copper, Blair is said to have made inroads into the Met’s so-called canteen culture. Good. Yet his reward was to get himself branded ‘politically correct’ in the Daily Mail. That is one of the worst things that can happen to anybody in public life.

Another thing in Blair’s favour is that he succeeded in cutting crime. This or that statistic may be subject to quibbling, but all point in the same direction, and that is downwards. Surely that’s the final yardstick of what policing is all about?

In the end, all of the above considerations are irrelevant. Blair was too close to New Labour, which meant that in the new scheme of things at City Hall, he had to go.

Ken Livingstone – writing in the Guardian today – holds up Blair as a ‘hard working and impressive public servant’ who fell victim of a sustained hard right witchhunt, and there is enough truth in the suggestion to merit a partial defence in the face of a nasty and reactionary media onslaught that is preparing the way for a BoJo placeman.

Last time I checked, Paul Dacre wasn’t actually constitutionally entitled to decide on senior police appointments. But let’s just say Sir Ian did himself no favours along the way. All the Tories had to do was give him enough rope.

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About the author
Dave Osler is a regular contributor. He is a British journalist and author, ex-punk and ex-Trot. Also at: Dave's Part
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Civil liberties ,Crime ,Mayor election

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Reader comments


Your points are valid ones but I don’t see that Ian Blair can complain very bitterly about the political nature of his sacking.

He was, after all, an unusually political copper – witness his enthusiasm for 42 days detention.

Moreover, he seemed content to be a bit of a media lightening rod – encouraging the papers to refer to him as Britain’s most semior police officer when, as I understand it, all Commissioners are of equal rank and seniority depends on length of service. This despite the fact that he was a spectacularly inept handler of the media.

Moreover, de Menezes was not the only innocent to get shot on his watch. There was also Abdul Kahar (official verdict? An accident). In both cases, the police released information that bordered on the defamatory to the police. In a more marginal case, Mark Saunders was shot dead despite being armed with a shotgun (lethal range about ten metres) and the fact that the street had been evacuated – meaning that nobody, civilian or otherwise, was in harm’s way. (Astonishingly, since Saunders was a barrister and his family might have cut up rough about it, no defamatory stories).

Other forces just don’t shoot innocent people as often as Blair’s Met

He presided over a force that leaked, did dirty laundry in public and sought political influence. Moreover, his is not the only force to report improved crime figures.

His resignation is long overdue.

“Other forces just don’t shoot innocent people as often as Blair’s Met”

Not sure that’s a fair criticism: other forces don’t shoot *people* as often as the Met, pre- or post-Blair. The interesting questions are:

a) out of the people the Met shoot, is the ‘success’ ratio (ie the proportion of those shot who turn out to be guilty and to have presented an imminent threat) higher or lower than for other UK police forces?

b) did this ratio change under Blair?

There is a double edge to these anti-racism policies. You can read several blogs by the police themselves and their published diaries explaining how much of a waste many of the new policies are. For example, some police forces decided to stop canteen culture by getting rid of canteens, with the result that the police can now be starving on their shifts. That rather smacks of “burning the village to save it” logic. On the other hand, it was clear that there was rather too many racists (who might have been prepared to act on their prejudices too) making their way into the police force and there needs to be some way of stemming that.

But thats not my biggest beef with Blair. It wasn’t the accidental shooting but the laughable (or perhaps secretly successful?) cover-up afterwards. That should be more than enough for people to be happy to see him gone. Better late than never, whichever side the daily mail is on.

The left go on about the de Menezes killing, but it had nothing to do with his demise. Since when has the Tory party been concerned with the killing of brown people by the police? In fact, they would probably like to see a few more.

No, the reason they hated Blair is that he did not push the far right agenda of the Police Federation. They are probably the most right wing trade union in the UK. They don’t like the idea of lots of brown and black people getting jobs in the Met, and the idea of woman climbing up the career ladder is just the beyond the pale to the rank and file in the canteen.

The Tories also hate the idea of anyone with any links to the Labour party being employed any ware in British society. Remember the fuss they made about Greg Dike at the BBC? It was fine for John Major to stack the board of governors with Conservative cronies like Sarah Hogg, but when Labour try to employ anyone the Tory machine goes on overdrive to bring that person down. The more successful they are the more reluctant people are to associate themselves with the Labour party. Of course the rules are very different when The Tories are in charge.

The most interesting thing about all this is Boris not wanting a new head of the Met until after the next election. That is the biggest admission you could have that they have now politicised the position. It also shows that The Tories are prepared to put at risk the People of London for 18 months while they wait to take office. So much for the party of law and order.

John b,

If the police as a whole shot enough people to carry out statistical analysis those would indeed be important questions. Fortunately the numbers are to low for that. According to the ipcc, the police shoot dead between one and five people a year across the country as a whole. Even if all of them were shot in London (which I doubt) that makes the Met’s 2 shootings of innocents an unnacceptably high share of the total of nine over three years.

The Home Secretary’s response to the request for Ian Blair to resign highlights some democratic deficits. Elsewhere in the UK, a Police Authority can sack a Chief Constable, but not in London. The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police is not just London’s top cop, responsible for conventional crime, but s/he is also the UK top cop for terrorist crime, working hand in hand with the security services. The latter is why the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police is ultimately responsible to the Home Secretary.

Thus if conventional policing in London is ineffectual, the Police Authority can’t sack the individual at the top without agreement from the Home Secretary. Similarly, if regional police forces and their authorities think that the Commissioner can’t work with regional Special Branch officers, they have no recourse other than the Home Secretary. And why assume that the person best qualified to lead police investigation of terrorism across the UK is also the best person to lead conventional policing in our capital city?

Uhh Sally – I don’t know very many acknowledged Tory voters, but people generally on the right have been banging on about police shootings for a while now: http://www.samizdata.net/blog/archives/007946.html

The right aren’t, much as it would make things simple for you, evil.

The Tory party has always seen the Police as their own private little army. When a few nasty trade unions need their heads kicked in their army will do it for them. One of Thatchers first acts in 1979 was to give the Police a big pay rise and followed that by increasing housing allowences that allowed many police officers to trade up in the early 80’s.

The Tory party has always seen the Police as their own private little army. When a few nasty trade unions need their heads kicked in their army will do it for them. One of Thatcher’s first acts in 1979 was to give the Police a big pay rise, and followed that by increasing housing allowances that allowed many police officers to trade up in the early 80’s. It was a sign of things to come.

A fiend of mine has a brother in the police. (not in the Met) During the fuel protests in 2001 he asked his brother why the police did not stop the protestors from blocking the motorways, and his response was “why should we? what have Labour ever done for us” Don’t get me wrong ,there are some decent police officers ,but the canteen culture is very right wing ,and very Tory. The police always manage to avoid any re-organisation, and are the only public service that is a law unto themselves.

10. Charlieman

From the BBC at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7651738.stm.

Quote: The chief constable of West Yorkshire has said he will not consider becoming the next Met commissioner because of the threat of “political interference”.

I am very pleased that the chief constable of West Yorkshire is not applying for the Met job and feel sorry for the people of West Yorkshire. “Political interference” is the counter side of accountability, so if you can’t live with it don’t go for the job.

Hmm… you mean the way schools and hospitals have been “re-organised”? Should we be thankful perhaps?

Nick,

It is about the principle of whether the govt of the day can actually re-organise a public service. Some changes will work ,some will not, but the point is the govt must have the ability to do that. The police is the big exception. Neither Tory nor Labour will touch it with a barge poll. The Tory party has tended to turn a blind eye to the wrongdoings. Something New Labour has copied. And the result is that the whole question of policing by consent is called into question. It does not help when Home Secretaries like Michael Howard give the police huge powers to make decisions that should be made by democratically accountable politicians. It also leads to the kind of culture that creates the cover up you complain about earlier in the thread.

….since Ken Livingstone didnt have the guts to do what was necessary and get rid of the man himself. You havent even mentioned the sickening regularity with which Bair felt it neccessary to step-up and offer some moral support and much needed credibility to his namesake in No 10 and support this government recklessly attacking our civil liberties. I’m glad Sir Ian Blair is gone; i’m immensley sad it was left to the hard-right to actually do what the left should have done ages ago….

Darell does not understand the real world.

Many on the left have got difficulty with the phrase ‘anti-racist policing’

What rubbish the left never talk about anything but racism and it has been the left who have destroyed London policing by turning it into a politicised organisation only fit for faking figures and taking time off( an average of 20sick days per year in the Met…it is collapsing ). Meanwhile the street are entirely out of control and apart from their victim counselling you never see a policeman..(80% of time spent form filling .,..oh don’t those lefties just love their forms ). As a close ally of Ken Livingstone a man who thinks we should apologising for Africans selling us their slave centuries ago of course he was out of the picture and about time .

And what about the money , the staggering cost of this non -service ordinary Lononers have once again been betrayed by the bourgeois posturing of the student debating society

Newmnia you are talking bollocks.

Nobody has destroyed London policing, and to say otherwise makes you look like the moron you obviously are. As for the number of sick days, the police have off, that can be laid at the blame of the Right wing, who have turned a blind eye to bad practacies of the Police for decades. (Thatcher let them get away with what they wanted just as long they would be on hand to bash up a frew miners when asked) Hilarious that the Police now want the right to strike, after helping bash in anybody who did strike.

You just make my points for me. Conservatives and New Labour don’t want to deal with the real issues in the Police, because to do so will upset Daily Mail reading clowns like you. Now run along and buy your next copy so you have all your talking points fed to you.

Sally,

I’d love for you to qualify that statement preferably with an actual argument but feel free to do as you please. Would that be the real world where Sir Ian tried to thrawt an investigation into the Stockwell shooting of an unarmed man?

Would it be the real world where Sir Ian has put himself in a position where he is effectively and rightly seen as a Labour stooge?? Would that be the real world where even this week allegations have begun to emerge about his cronyism with regard to preferential treatment for a friends company?? Would that be the real world where despite positioning himself as ‘anti-discrimination’ Sir Ian is at the centre of numerous industrial tribunals and allegations of discrimination from senior Asian officers??

Why oh why does the left feel the need to ‘step-up to the plate’ for people like this…

Darrell

Nobody apart from the Tory party saw Blair as a stooge for the Labour party. Yes, he supported some policies but they were on issues of crime. Hardly makes him a stooge. As for the shooting, don’t get your hopes up. Any policeman would have his back covered by the govt of the day on issues of terrorism. Don’t kid yourself that any other policeman would have been treated differently by any govt. Look at all the cover ups in Northern Ireland over the decades. Shoot to kill policy?

What Blair did, and what he really got the boot for was taking on the canteen culture of the Met. Just remember the fury that the Right wing vented over the Lawrence inquiry. They fumed at the idea that the force was institutionally racist. Blair was trying to do something about that, and now he is gone. If Boris has his way you may come to realise that Blair was not bad compared to what will come in his place.

Be careful what you wish for

“Meanwhile the street are entirely out of control”

Do you live in London, or in a retirement villa in Spain? Cos I’m guessing the latter. I’m in the former, and the streets really, really obviously aren’t at all out of control; anyone who thinks crime is a serious problem in London is a clueless gibbering nutjob who gets all their ‘facts’ from the Daily Mail…

Sally,

Nope. I am sure I am not the only person on the left who saw him that way too. In his ill-advised comments on ID cards and detention without charge he way overstepped his remit. His comments on these issues are directly at odds with his ‘liberal’ credentials as he is opposed by liberals/leftists who actually believe in civil liberties, many I might add from this site which has run it’s own campaigns on these issues. If your world view is so simplistic that you say ‘if the Daily Mail attacks somebody they must be good’ then heaven help us. Heaven help us because much of the left thinks the same way. It wasn’t that he ‘had his back covered’ it was the crassness with which his first reaction was to try and subvert any kind of inquiry especially since he patently didn’t have a clue what was going on at some stages of the incident which suggests either serial incompetance, malpractice or both.

Again, Blair’s credibility when it comes to changing the ‘canteen culture’ of the Met has to be seriously questioned given what I have stated above. This is nothing like the Lawrence inquiry….

“Nobody apart from the Tory party saw Blair as a stooge for the Labour party”

Shurely shome mishtake? Unless you consider anyone who dissagrees with you to be a Tory?

you can prove Blair voted Labour at the last election can you?

It really doesn’t matter which way he voted…he has aligned himself with this government on issues where it has attacked civil liberties….he probably did but its a totally academic question…..

No it is not an academic question. You and the Tory party are claiming he is a Labour supporter. Well prove it. Just because he supported certain issues does not make him a Labour supporter.

Anyway he is gone now, so you have got what you wanted. But understand that he did not go because any off the things you care about.. As will soon become obvious when Boris gets a veto on who comes next

Love the way you try and associate any leftist criticism with the Tory Party there, very subtle ;). I think the phrase i used was ‘Labour stooge’ not Labour supporter as it happens which means he has let himself be wheeled out while this government torched civil liberties.

When will we get some substantive argument here about the role he played in those debates? When will we get anything but the implied criticism that people who are critical of Blair are all closet Tories?? When will you actually substantively answer the charges levelled against him??

“When will you actually substantively answer the charges levelled against him??”

What is the point? he has gone now, you have won.

But don’t kid yourself that he will be replaced by some left wing cvil liberties supporter.

Sally is presumably one of these

A) the leader of the SWP
B)A Tory troll having a laugh
C)A 7 year old

No. I am not the leader of the SWP, and

No, I am not a Tory troll, and

No, I am not a 7 year old.

So you are wrong on all three. But at least you can console yourself with the fact that you got 100% , even if it was 100% wrong.

Nah Sally isn’t. She is making a good point which is that Blair had some good points about him. He had some bad points about him too- ie not caring about civil liberties for example but those bad points are shared by most police officers whereas his good poitns are shared by almost none.

What she says about the police is also true- the crucial thing about Blair (and you can see from Newmania who would think an investigation of the Klu Klux Khan for racism would be political correctness gone mad what your average Tory thinks) is that he was the high water mark for leftwing policing in this country. I agree with lots of Darrell’s points but the problem is that this is the beggining of the switch to the Tories- and Blair will not be replaced by someone who goes further than him, but by someone who is equally harsh on civil liberties (but backing a conservative govenrment this time) and reverses things that Blair did well like the anti-racism stuff.

I was responding to the post saying that Sally was a troll not to Sally’s post!

31. douglas clark

Simon @ 28,

So David Davies is getting dumped in the crapper?

Perhaps you are right, but I’d have thought that right wing politics, even the libertarian right, might not see this the way you do. I’d expect a different, unacceptable to me right enough, but different and acceptable definition of liberty to come out of the Tories. It has more to do with Republican bullshit than anything else, but it would be a coherent, although fundamentally wrong message.

Given that the Tories are slaved to Republicans – because they have no ideas of their own – expect to see more manifesto commitments on American lines:

Like:

“What global warming?’,

“I can see Siberia”,

“‘Certainly, good standing citizens should be allowed to carry guns”

And:

“The Rapture is upon us”

None of these are inevitable Tory positions, but they seem to me to be at least what you get if they sup with the devil.

That doesn’t reflect reality. In reality, the Tories have supported every erosion of civil liberties that Labour have done, with the exception of some incredibly trivial grandstanding over whether you can lock people up without trial for a month or a month plus a fortnight. And they want to repeal the Human Rights Act, because it gives, err, rights to humans.

Sally,

I was never arguing he will be replaced with someone better….my personal view is that his conduct over Stockwell should have lead to his dismissal so it is not as if Livingstone didnt have the chance to get rid and put a better man in place than Boris will….

Simon,

You make some good points but I think even there his reputation is a little tarnished as I have said….he might have talked a talk but did he walk the walk??

I would say. Blair actually aligned himself not only with Labour but with Ken Livingstone who , as those of us older than seven will recall, stood against Labour, which was in effect standing against New Labour with the support of the London Labour Party and its network of placemen in housing social services and subsidised community nonsense of numerous kinds . He did this by his aggressive support of the London SWP/Labour line on anti-racism , a sort of 70s vintage student guilt trip.
In June 2005: Sir Ian was told by an employment tribunal that he “hung out to dry” three white officers wrongly accused of racist behaviour towards an Asian colleague. That was when it all went wrong , he secretly taped a phone call with the attorney general, Goldsmithand we have seen recently that this was symptomatic of catastrophically emerded organisation.

It sounds far more like an SWP group its plots splitters and verminous distrust and clearly was not as proper police force. Boris is to be applauded for taking decisive action on behalf of Londoners against a person and organisation suffering from Stockholm syndrome in relation to the state funded community whiners allied with Old Labour and the hard left who still wield power in the high crime inner Boroughs .

Let us hope the next incumbent remembers his job is protecting the law abiding .

“And they want to repeal the Human Rights Act, because it gives, err, rights to humans”

Nah, it is misnamed. It gives rights to states. It essentially says the state can do anything so long as it comes up with a decent excuse.

john B

In reality, the Tories have supported every erosion of civil liberties that Labour have done,

please elaborate.

Can you cite a law proposed by Labour that has eroded civil liberties and that the Tories have opposed?

Yes I can.

Can you substantiate your assertion? I’m not trying to score points, I’m genuinely interested.

“Yes I can” – even excluding, as my earlier comment made clear, the 42 days measures? I suppose you could class the hunting-with-dogs bill, although I don’t think that’s really a ‘civil liberties’ issue any more than the bans on bear-baiting and hare-coursing are…

“Given that the Tories are slaved to Republicans – because they have no ideas of their own – expect to see more manifesto commitments on American lines:

Like:

“What global warming?’,

“I can see Siberia”,

“‘Certainly, good standing citizens should be allowed to carry guns”

And:

“The Rapture is upon us”

None of these are inevitable Tory positions, but they seem to me to be at least what you get if they sup with the devil.”

Douglas, this is so true, and I am afraid that too many people in this counrty have bought the Cameron green wash bullshit. The BBc reported opn Friday that Boris would like to bring over a policeman from the USA to have a say in the way London is policed.

Simon,

You make my points better than I do. Blair is not perfect, but he is better tahn what will come under the Right wing.

Yes, John, I can.

The Conservatives opposed Labour’s proposals relating to: inquests without juries (clause 65 Counter-Terrorism Bill), and specially appointed coroners (clause 67 of the same); the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill, and amendments attached to three or four bills that weren’t specifically about racial and religious hatred, such as the Police and Justice Bill; the Identity Cards Bill; fraud trials without juries; the Extradition Bill, and an amendment relating to extradition in the Police and Justice Bill; clauses in the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill; clauses relating to speech in various terrorism bills, including encouragement of terrorism (clause 1 Terrorism Bill 2006); and control orders. That isn’t an exhaustive list and only goes back to 2005.

They also voted for a number of liberty improving amendments to Government Bills.

As for hunting with dogs and 42 days… I think the former received disproportionate attention, and I don’t believe the latter is trivial grandstanding except on the part of those who support it.

and it’s not just about the number of days but also the complexity of the process and the involvement of the Commons what should be a judicial function.

Fellow left-wingers,

I’ve been doing some hard thinking and I think I deserved to be sacked. I am nothing but a useless, despicable left-wing friend of crime just like most other modern senior police officers. The mugged and burgled people of London are aching for the oppression to end. How I wished I had done more. Trust me, never read the guardian, it’s shitty rag and was a bad influence on me, it made me too obsessed with homophobia and sexism to do my job properly. Now I am going to put a bullet through my woolly liberal head because I just can’t bear to think about all those disgusting murders I might have prevented.

Sir Ian

*Cough*

Conservatives really don’t do humour, do they.

Shorter Sir Ian troll

I am a brown shirt Nazi who will not be happy unless I am killing and beating lots of brown people. I like to go to the Lodge on a Tuesday night and meet my business friends who steal old peoples assets using the pen rather than the gun. England needs more people like this. I am too stupid to think for myself, which is why I buy the Daily Mail, to help me understand what to think. Richard Littlejohn is my favourite. He uses the same line evey week , “you can’t make it up” and I find it is so true. I re read it 4-5 times that day just so I understand it.

#42 Is that supposed to be in deliberate bad taste on the day when the inquest is held into the death of Michael Todd, the former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police?

“Conservatives really don’t do humour, do they.”

Perhaps not, but libertarians do: http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/023023.html

Also, were you aware that Jackie Mason, probably the funniest living man in the world, is a pretty hardcore republican? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZ5c6hxqXq4

Sir Ian Blair has worked hard all his life for the good of people. He is a worthy and honourable man. This is how we treat the people that care for and protect us when they mistakes , dont forget that the General Public and Politicians expected fast results before the Murderous Terrorist inflicted more death and destruction on the Streets of London. Shame on the Mayor Boris Johnson. Who will he call when he needs help in an emergancy. The Police care for and protect us all , no matter who we are. Who else do we have to protect us????????. Dont destroy a good man . We all need our Police more than we realise.

Nick,

Not to be harsh, but it’s quite a stretch to say that Jackie Mason is “probably the funniest living man in the world”. Even with Bill Hicks, George Carlin, and Richard Prior all sadly deceased, we’re pretty poorly equipped if Mason is considered classic comedy.

Hell, I’ve laughed more at P.J. O’Rourke’s written words than anything I’ve seen of Mason. I suppose it’s down to taste, but then I doubt it.


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