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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