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  "A dangerous departure"
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ContributorNew Jerusalem 
Last EditedNew Jerusalem  Oct 04, 2008 05:43am
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CategoryOpinion
MediaNewspaper - Guardian
News DateSaturday, October 4, 2008 11:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionPolicing in London is at a crossroads after Ian Blair's resignation yesterday. Unless his successor as commissioner of the Metropolitan police service continues where he leaves off and maintains the commitment to police London for all Londoners, we face the danger of sliding back to the approach that was characterised by both rising crime and open conflict between the Met and London's communities.

From the first day of Blair's commissionership there has been a campaign by the most rightwing parts of British society, led among others by the Daily Mail, to have him ousted. The decisive voices were not those who criticised him from the left but those who want an end to what they call "politically correct" - that is, non-racist - policing in London. Sir Ian's opponents include people who want to turn the clock back to the days before the scandal of the Met's failure to properly investigate the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence by racists was exposed in the Macpherson inquiry. They hated Sir Ian because he stood for a police service that represented all Londoners. If we do not want to return to the riots of the 1980s in London or, much more recently, the conflicts in Paris, the new commissioner must be in the same mould as Sir Ian.

In making it impossible for one of the most successful crime-reducing commissioners in the Met's history to remain in post, Boris Johnson has acted openly against the interests of Londoners. It is one of many signs that his mayoralty will be a disaster for London, a disaster for the community relations essential to everybody's quality of life.

Johnson was unable in his statement yesterday to offer a single good reason for his ousting of the commissioner, which suggests his administration lacks basic political honesty.

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