Ian Blair: good riddance, but …

Last week, Ian Blair, the London Police commissioner, finally resigned. I must say I am glad to see him go, and I was disgusted that the killing of Jean-Charles de Menezes did not result in anyone losing his or her job. (Hat tip: Fareena Alam.)

What I am less pleased about is the way it came about - simply because the new mayor, Boris Johnson, publically announced that the police force needed “new leadership”, i.e. that he had no confidence in him. What sealed his fate had nothing to do with the Stockwell killing, the Forest Gate affair or anything else to do with terrorism, but the fact that Johnson, and his buddies in the right-wing media, wanted a so-called “copper’s copper” who will “get things done” without worrying about treading on people’s (i.e. dark-skinned people’s) toes. These people have been harping on about “political correctness” ever since the Macpherson report, which called the Metropolitan Police “institutionally racist” after they failed to nail the five racist thugs who murdered a young black teenager, Stephen Lawrence, in south-east London in 1993, preferring to harass his friend. The identities of those responsible are well-known.

This is a dangerous move towards an American-style politicised police, in which the forces are run by political operators who fear for their jobs, and need to placate scared suburban middle-class whites and do so by “getting tough” on, well, things and people they do not like. There is a reason why our police do not run for office - because the job is too important to be dictated by populism and politics. This is a particular danger in a city like London, where the only daily city paper is on the right.

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