The London Assembly has just voted to express its lack of confidence in Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair in the wake of the Met’s conviction of a serious health and Safety offence which led to the death of the wholly innocent Jean Charles de Menzes. Sir Ian, notwithstanding that he has now lost the confidence of the majority of the elected representatives of the citizens of London, has stuck his fingers up in Agincourt Salute at that democratic entity with the enthusiastic support of Livingstone and the Government. Whilst the views of the London Assembly are not binding, given that he now has lost the confidence of the two main Opposition parties and the representatives of the people of London, it is difficult to see him lasting much longer.
Just how much longer this limpet-like activity can continue remains to be seen. His contempt for the democratic will of London’s Assembly, however, is matched, nay surpassed by that of Livingstone who denounced them as “second-rate politicians who no-one has ever heard of” as if that somehow invalidated the numbers. But then Socialists like Livingstone are always ready to dispense with democracy when it suits them and it suits him to do so at the moment. One wonders if such an attitude will play well with voters next May when they have a chance to kick Livingstone out.
But such a contempt for democracy is of a piece with Labour’s instincts these days for gerrymandering the system in its favour. The Government too will ignore this vote as Sir Ian has, to all intents and purposes, become their creature and they are thus stuck with propping him up for the moment. He doubtless fondly believes that that will see him through. And so it will, until he becomes dispensable, at which point his feet won’t touch as he is ushered out of office by those same politicians who swore to stand by him come what may. Then this most political of policemen will discover that he has just had a swift, brutal but final lesson in politics.
Meanwhile, as Labour feels that its moment in the sun may be coming to an end, it is managing to exhibit increasingly anti-democratic spasms: gerrymandering the political funding system, thumbing its nose at important manifesto commitments, bucking clear democratic votes, sneering at the English democratic deficit, finding nothing terribly much to be sorry for in the Scottish voting fiasco which took place on their watch. After all, why trouble with a level playing field when that might lose you an election?
Power eats at Labour like a parasite which lives in mutual symbiosis with its host: it cannot live without it and fears being replaced by anything which can, lest it die. At the moment Labour is exhibiting the most dangerous and illiberal signs of this relationship. It is a reminder that we must never relax our vigilance.