Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Another Blair who must bite the dust.


New Labour's argument for not asking that [Sir] Ian Blair resign his position as head of the Metropolitan Police is that he has done nothing wrong and would be the victim of a media witch-hunt - which, even if true, would be an item of exemplary bad faith coming from that bunch of knife-artists. Ian Blair's own argument for not resigning at the moment is that there isn't a sufficient crisis for him to do so. That is, he will resign under protest only if it becomes impossible for him to remain in his position. He offers this cowardly argument as if it was a statement of principled defiance, with a Gloria Gaynor twist: "There are three options here. There is resign now and walk away. There is cling on, and be pushed out. Or there is the one that I am going to do, which is survive."

Ian Blair is not being witch-hunted, even if the criticisms from the Tories and Lib Dems are opportunistic. He has overseen not only the murder of an innocent man, when all signals indicated that he was innocent, but also a string of lies used to justify the murder. He has exposed the Met's cruel and ruthless doctrine of preemptive killing (destroying the brain instantly, utterly), with all the demented pride of a Territorial Army reject, and publicly admitted that the force came within a hair's breadth of murder on hundreds of separate occasions, although it is clear that on none of those occasions was an actual suicide bomber arrested. Arguably, it is possible that Ian Blair himself really was ignorant of everything that was going on around him, as he claims - no one really believes that, but no one questions it on television either. If it is the case, then he is pathetically incompetent, and should resign on that ground alone. And if it isn't the case, then he deliberately contributed to and arguably oversaw a strategy of lies and smears directed against the very recently deceased, not least by claiming that the man was "directly linked" to the 'terror-hunt'. And there is no doubt that he personally took the initiative, while the body was still warm, of writing to the Home Secretary to prevent an inquiry by the IPCC. So, he doesn't like accountability very much. And he sent the perpetrators of the killing on holiday, so believes that crime should be rewarded - not an ideal quality in a top cop. Subsequently, the Metropolitan Police took the opportunity to beat and detain two brothers, shooting one and almost causing his death. They beat up the neighbours as well, and then - having beaten, shot and arrested the wrong people, they leaked false claims that the brothers were paedophiles, not to mention certain other smears about them and their families. There has been no serious attempt to rectify this or any of the other lies put out by the Met, by Ian Blair. The commissioner has also been a bit of a toady, having engaged in politicised interventions to help New Labour increase the length of time that 'terror suspects' can be detained. He has secretly tape-recorded telephone conversations, and is given to puffing himself in the press (falsely claiming to have been in the thick of it during a battle with the IRA, for example). He has correctly accused the media of institutional racism, but has permitted an even more dangerous institutional racism to pervade his own force, not least in its hot pursuit of "black on black" crime.

The truth is that under [Sir] Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police has been deceitful, fanatical and violent, particularly in its handling of so-called 'terror suspects'. Perhaps this is to be expected, only a slightly more extreme example of what usually happens, but we shouldn't react as if it is. Given our present inability to overthrow capitalism and all that, we would all benefit from more restrained and more intelligent policing. While the sacking of one commissioner doesn't achieve that on its own, leaving such an evidently corrupt sociopath in charge of one of Britain's most potent armed body of men, especially after everything that has happened, encourages trends in the opposite direction. And even if you aren't as cynical about the police as I am, Ian Blair's confrontational policy has without question reduced the police's relations with Muslims to its lowest ebb. Those who think the trend ought to be in the other direction are undoubtedly the greatest friends of the police. Similarly, those who are more concerned with the Metropolitan Police's "credibility" than I am will have to pause and think about whether they want to continue to reward a man whose actions have done nothing but diminish it. Those who are banking on him being able to clean up his own mess, as a prominent London Green hopes, ought to consider how successful he has been at this so far. For the rest of us, I would have thought the record is bad enough: not one innocent man shot, but two; not one lie, but many; not one near thing, but hundreds. How much more should we have to endure?