Not for the first time Sir Ian Blair is at the centre of a media storm and, like those he’s experienced in the past, it is wholly of his own creation.
Secretly recording conversations may not be illegal but it is in, in the words of Metropolitan Police Authority Chairman, “unacceptable”.
Unfortunately much of what the public sees of Sir Ian is equally so. It was unacceptable to comment on his support for the ID card scheme – expressed during last year’s General Election in defiance of all convention and it was unacceptable to comment with no sensitivity on the media coverage of the Soham murders.
The growing perception is one of an accident prone man incapable of focussing on the job for which Londoners pay him – to manage the operations of the Metropolitan Police. Worse still is the perception that he is a stooge for an ever more authoritarian Government. Yesterday’s issuing of glowing endorsements by Downing Street and the Home Office merely reinforce the claims.
Speaking on BBC One’s Newsnight, the former MPA Chair and Labour Peer Lord Harris repeated the line favoured by those who seek to defend Sir Ian, namely that he has to carry his job out against the background of a major terror threat.
Whilst this is true it ignores the twin facts that others faced the same challenge in the 1970s & 80’s and that Blair repeatedly strays from his brief.
The Commissioner’s defenders would better spend their time and energy trying to instill into their man the realisation that he isn’t employed as a Labour Party Whip or a media commentator. His job is to lead and inspire the men and woman who keep our city safe and enforce Parliament’s laws. The repetitive negative headlines are a distraction from this important task.
If Sir Ian wishes to debate politics or play with his chums in Government he must resign and stand for election. If he wishes to remain in his current job the approach in future must be fewer media appearances, less interviews and no more politics.
The scope for him to decide his own fate diminishes with each set of headlines.