Ex-Mayor Livingstone

The Met Commissioner in the papers

Brian Coleman, Tory London Assembly Member, says in the Independent on Sunday today:

The Mayor of London’s rush to defend Sir Ian is hard to explain. I do not recall Ken Livingstone defending the SAS when they shot dead three IRA terrorists in Gibraltar in 1988. On the other hand, Livingstone knows that if Sir Ian falls, his London administration’s great achievement of reintroducing neighbourhood policing and presiding over a fall in crime in the capital (though only in certain categories) will be tarnished.

Sir Ian’s tenure has suffered from one “unfortunate” episode after another. Yesterday, contrary to claims that he has “modernised” the Met, came new allegations that the victims of the botched Forest Gate raid in 2006 had been held at gunpoint again and racially abused.

Simon Jenkins in the Sunday Times doesn’t think he should go but hardly endorses him:

Blair has committed plenty of gaffes, but they have largely been a result of his love for publicity and for playing politics. He appears to have reacted to the de Menezes killing in a detached and initially obstructive way. As a result he continues to lack the confidence that his office needs to be effective. But he should not be sacrificed to a squalid health and safety gambit that can only make the job of counter-terrorism harder.

Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer says go:

Sir Ian has always been a politically controversial figure. He has now become a political liability for the government. He is not a figure who can build public confidence in the ability of the authorities to keep them safe. And he will not be a persuasive advocate for new anti-terror legislation. This will be one of the big contentions of the new parliamentary session, which begins this week when Gordon Brown attempts to persuade MPs to lengthen the period that terror suspects can be held without charge. The Prime Minister and his Home Secretary know that they are going to win this battle only with great difficulty. They want to be able to call on arguments from the police that they need these powers to deal with terrorism. To help the government make its case, Number 10 wants a police commissioner who is a compelling witness, not one tainted by anxiety about his competence and conflict about his right to be in office.

Anne McElvoy in the Evening Standard on Friday was clear that he should go too:

A resignation would be a harsh conclusion to a career which has also had its successes – not least in helping change the image of the Met. But an innocent young man was shot dead in a manner which the trial condemned as “catastrophic”.

That was not bad luck, but the result of serious errors of judgment. Sir Ian should do the honourable thing and accept the consequences.

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