Today the London Assembly will hold a confirmation hearing into the appointment of Kit Malthouse as Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority.
Yet at the same time we should be gracious enough to welcome Boris Johnson’s tacit admission that the role of Mayor is so large there are limits to the fancy job titles he can lay claim to, ditto that the role of MPA Chair is too important for an occasional post-holder.
Plus, as one of the more capable members of the Johnson administration, Malthouse is likely to be better in the role than any honest assessment could conclude Boris was. His interventions at Mayor’s Question Time have frequently demonstrated a better grasp of the details than Boris could ever boast.
As someone who described themselves as ‘pro-London’ long before our former Mayor needed a name for his grand coalition, it makes sense to me to have the greater talent occupy the top post. Yet before Malthouse can officially take on the role he and the Assembly have to go through the charade of a confirmation hearing which can make only a non-binding recommendation.
It’s a pointless fudge between preserving the Mayor’s executive powers and paying lip-service to increasing scrutiny of him or her.
The issue of holding the Mayor (current and future post-holders) to account was the topic I spoke on at the recent Progressive London conference, as I said there and have many times here, there’s a clear need for increasing the scrutiny of the Mayor, including giving the Assembly power to block instances of Mayoral excess.
That said, neither democracy nor dignity are served by a sham hearing which can do nothing to alter the eventual outcome.