We know from Boris’s reticence about explaining quite with whom he ‘consulted widely’ that, er, he didn’t consult widely at all about forcing out Sir Ian Blair.

But now it’s emerged that Boris’s other line of defence – that it was Ian Blair’s decision alone to resign, and he hadn’t been expecting it at all – is not exactly undisputed either.

The Mail On Sunday carries a quote from Blair’s “friends” – normally newspaper code for Blair himself – that Blair called this defence:

‘absolute s***. He made it absolutely clear that he was determined to bring about a change of leadership, and in the circumstances I had no choice but to comply.’

The article is worth a read and adds weight to the mountain of evidence that this was a quick-and-dirty decision taken by Boris and Kit Malthouse after consulting with virtually no-one else at all.

I doubt that even David Cameron knew about it before Blair had submitted his resignation letter – we know, after all, that he didn’t think the Mayor should have the power to dismiss the Commissioner. (Edit: the Daily Mail was ahead of me on that suspicion and appears to have some evidence.)

And if there’s any doubt that Boris wasn’t toeing the party line with this decision, let’s have a look at what the then shadow Home Secretary David Davis had to say on the subject of politicians hiring and firing police chiefs, as recently as the end of May (with many thanks to James Buller for spotting this):

The Government wants to increase its central control over senior police appointments, a measure sure to politicise policing and further undermine officer morale. This reflects the Stalinist reflexes of Gordon Brown’s Labour party. Yet again this government seems unable to resist the urge for centralisation.

Dear me, Boris, that’s your own side essentially calling your actions ‘Stalinist’ –your favourite adjective when used against, er, pretty much anyone or anything you take a dislike to. Can you defend your actions against such a slur, or will you continue to sidestep charges of impropriety by answering other questions entirely? (“Did you rob that bank?” “I consulted widely about whether I should rob it first.” “But you shouldn’t have robbed it!” “Well I didn’t know that if I stormed in with a gun and demanded all the money, they’d hand it over. That was their decision alone.”)

† Those are the Mail On Sunday’s asterisks, not mine: I wouldn’t like to presume what they’re concealing ;)

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8 Responses to Sir Ian Blair: Boris is talking “absolute s***”†

  1. Anonymous says:

    Boris has stepped into a minefield and he is in for a deservingly tough time chairing the police board tomorrow.
    I cannot possibly see how he will be able to gain trust amongst Mets Police by just ditching Ian Blair in a manner appropriate to him and not by following the right procedures.
    I have noticed that a lot of people reacting to this case, are not able to see that there is a great difference between disagreeing with how Sir Ian Blair was running things and the crucial principles that divides politics and police.
    No matter how much Johnson tries to dismiss the general publics questions about the crucial principles at stake, the very action and the danger of this action speaks for itself. Johnson has always been good to brush things over in his own special way, as if to say, that “it is not a big deal, come on, “it had to be down, and let’s leave it now please.
    No, Johnson. You have for the first time clearly revealed some of your ruthlessness and this action marks a new chapter as a mayor of London.
    The honeymoon period where you could use your clumsiness and your charm to get out of trouble has gone. More important things than your mayoral survival is at stake and that is national security.
    What would you have done, Boris, if a bomb went off in Birmingham or London tomorrow while you hastily have removed the person who were meant to be the collective force in times of danger?
    And this leads on to another question, did you first and foremost think about the security of London and Londoners when you literally sacked Sir Ian Blair on the spot and without proper consultation. Or are you first and foremost thinking of your own career and how you can succeed David Cameron if the Tories should win in 2010?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Boris Johnson has by this shown that he is willing to put the entire National Security at risk as long as it suits his own selfish, ambitious motivations. By doing this, he has also created a dangerous precedent, allowing politics to interfere with the Police work.
    I think this situation is so serious that it puts Boris Johnson mayoralty under question.

  3. Thanks Anonymous, that’s a good summary of the position. I certainly agree that there was at least initially far too much coverage focusing on the fact that “at last we’re rid of that discredited police chief”, without considering the completely inappropriate way in which it was done. Fortunately I think the coverage has started to move onto that, but then Mandelson came back to cabinet and it all became a bit less interesting to a neophilic media. Looking forward to this afternoon’s London segment of the Politics Show, though.

  4. And now I see that Blasted Boris has, again, been justifying himself on “The Politics Show” (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7653520.stm). Once more we are assured that alleged infractions of “constitutional precedent” are … oooh, you guessed already! … “”balderdash, piffle and tripe”. The life of this story, now into yet another news-cycle, suggests that it has created greater waves than intended. Good: let’s keep stirring.

    Meanwhile, was the “Mail” a trifle unkind accompanying the story you cite with a photo of gawping, wrinkled-browed Diddy Dave with the caption “Clueless: David Cameron”?

  5. Good spot, Malcolm: I hadn’t noticed they’d caught Cameron looking quite that gormless.

    Just working on getting the Politics Show interview onto YouTube.

  6. Rob says:

    “Boris is talking “absolute s***””

    Interesting quote from Blair, if that’s what he said, but I suspect the quote for which he will be better remembered for is: “the man was challenged and refused to obey police instructions”.

    Now that really was absolute s***.

  7. Foofoo says:

    Anonymous Oct 5, 2008 at 11:56 am
    “a dangerous precedent, allowing politics to interfere with the Police work”

    Unlike, say, the approval of the appointment of a Commissioner by the Home Secretary. A politician, if I’m not mistaken.

    And the new Commissioner will be approved by Jacqui Smith. A politician.

    Like it or not, the post of Met Commissioner is a political role.

    That being said, “police work” implies the operation of the Met – Johnson’s move led to the removal of a failing leadership, not the management.

    Blair had lost the confidence of his staff, and that of the MPA, and the only thing keeping him in office was his intransigence and the political will of the Home Office.

  8. Crarsegurse says:

    hi fellas
    I’m going to buy a new car. Wish to have a luxury one, but have no ideas what to choose… Can somebody advise me something?

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