The general consensus seems to be that Iain Blair (I won't use an honorific that he seems so unworthy of) will continue to inspire diminishing confidence in the Metropolitan police.
Dead Man Walking
Dead Man Walking
As I've posted elsewhere I have more than a little sympathy for the Met on the specific issue of the health and safety prosecution; health and safety legislation and the defence of the realm against terrorism do not mix, period. Civil liberties must be balanced against the needs for terror legislation, health and safety is not worthy of the same consideration in the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
I have no such sympathy for Blair. Watching him over the last few days I've seen a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde. When I hear him speak, I hear all the arrogance of his Labour masters, but when I look in his eyes and at his general demeanour I see a rabbit in the headlights, a man who knows he has blown it.
It has been truly appalling to hear Jacqui Smith's unsupported claims that Blair enjoys public support, while the best evidence available, the body elected to represent London has spoken otherwise. There's not much she could do I suspect, even if she was inclined to hang Blair out to dry. After all he is simply following Labour's new orthodoxy that acts of appalling mismanagement, far from being a a career limiting matters, should in fact offer job security under the mantra of the 'cleaning up your own mess' principle. It's understandable when you look at the fate of Smith's predecessors why she is so keen to endorse this line of thinking. Many heard the distinctive sound of the bottom of a barrel being scraped when she was appointed to her current post and let's be honest, the best spin you can put on her tenure so far is encapsulated in the famous acronym SNAFU.
The most offensive aspect of Smith's piss-poor handling of the whole affair is her petulant whinging about those who call for his resignation. Time and type she, and her acolytes make the claim of 'playing politics' with the fight against terrorism. Blair's appointment was one of the political to the police's top job in recent years and her defence of him, against all decency, is even more politically motivated. If incompetency is no bar to high office in the Labour party of today, hypocrisy never has been. Most of Blair's opponents have had issues about his suitability for the job for a long time and for Smith to expect them to turn a blind eye to his latest misdeeds, simply because there is a tenuous link to terrorism, is frankly ridiculous.
The only redeeming feature is that Blair and Smith now are to a significant extent political Siamese Twins. Smith must be a very nervous woman. Blair can't really afford to make any more mistakes, but on his track record the next cock-up can't be far away. When it comes, Smith knows she will be receiving the dreaded message of 'full confidence' from the Prime Minster that announces to the world that the remaining span of her ministerial career can now be measured in days.
But back to Blair, a phrase often heard these days, albeit about a different Blair. It is perhaps for other offences that need to be taken into consideration that I would like to see the back of Blair, but there is in the whole de Menezes affair one solitary fact that should in of itself mark the end of his time at the top, the issue of his obstruction of the IPCC investigation. As reported in the Guardian:
Just after the shooting on July 22 2005, Sir Ian wrote to the home secretary saying he feared an independent investigation could jeopardise lives. His plea was rejected as the law required the IPCC to investigate any police shooting.
Source: The Guardian
So, there it is, a requirement in law that the IPCC investigate any police shooting and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan police attempted to incite the Home Secretary of the time to break that law. I always thought that incitement of another to break the law was itself an offence, even if it isn't, it is a profoundly unethical thing to do. As for Blair's reasoning for asking for the law he is bound to uphold to be broken, does it sound even vaguely plausible?
Either way Blair is unfit to be part of the police service, let alone to lead it. Almost everyone seems to agree that he is damaged and at times like this we cannot afford to have a damaged top cop. With stories such as those about potential ECJ action likely to run and run the damage will continue as long as he remains in post. I might enjoy the discomfort it causes to the current government, Brown, who seems to be pulling a bit of a Macavity on the issue, apart, but this is two important to wish to see the open wound undressed.
For God's sake, go. A tritely decent man would have done so a long time ago, even a moderately self-aware one would have done so yesterday.