Sunday, November 4, 2007

Blair must go

I have rarely read such a powerful and compelling newspaper article as that by Andrew Rawnsley in today's Observer entitled: "Sir Ian Blair will resign. The only real question is when". Rawnsley catalogues the failures in the case of Jean Charles de Menezes and makes an unanswerable case for the removal of Blair:

The commissioner's central claim in his defence is that there is no evidence of 'systemic failure' in the Met. And yet we now know, and in horrifying detail, that the devastating sequence of mistakes involved organisation, communication, leadership, training and tactics. If that is not systemic failure, what is? The judge presiding at the Old Bailey put it slightly differently, calling it 'a corporate failing'. When the body fails as badly as this, the head must take responsibility.

...Let us recall exactly what happened to Jean Charles de Menezes on his way to work that morning. Armed agents of the state drilled seven dum-dum bullets into his brain. When police officers kill innocent people someone must be held to account. That principle is what distinguishes a free society from a police state. Sir Ian may not be personally culpable, but he is ethically responsible for his organisation. The moral buck stops with him.

...Calls for his resignation have come from both David Davis, the shadow home secretary, and Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem spokesman and leadership candidate. The Tory and Lib Dem members of the Metropolitan Police Authority are likely to vote against him, making his position yet more fragile. It is hard, going on impossible, to see how a Met Commissioner can function when his fitness for office is an issue of hot and constant political controversy.

It is not a matter of whether he will resign. Now, I think, it has become a question only of the date on which he writes the letter.

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