What lays behind Cameron's public promotion of Bill Bratton
as head of London's police?*
Monday, 15 August 2011
David Cameron is at the head of a campaign to bring former US police chief Bill Bratton over from the USA to head London's Metropolitan Police. Bratton is being pushed forward in the MSM as the man who cleaned up New York and LA when he was chief of police in those cities. One only has to read Vikram Dodd’s interview with Bratton in today’s Guardian to understand he is the type so favored by the MSM and political elites, and I might add the public relations industry. When he told Dodd, "I'm not coming in with the only bag of tricks in town," he revealed more about himself than he intended.
A political policeman to the core, before talking to Dodd he had clearly taken the measure of the Guardian, as trendy liberal watchwords slip from his tongue and are sprinkled throughout the interview. It is as if Bratton had been sitting on the knee of former Met Commissioner Ian Blair throughout his period in office, (Surely not, as the Tory Mayor of London sacked him.)
“I'm an advocate of gay and human rights.”
“I believe the role of the police is critical to the protection and advocacy of human rights."
“He would challenge existing police culture to make the service more open for minority groups.”
“No glass ceiling for anyone", including gay people and transvestites.” (That will get the heads spinning in Cameron’s local Tory club.)
According to US critics, Bratton is the type of policeman who has built his career going around the world to conferences and networking furiously. In this he is a mirror image of the UK’s political elite. This is the last thing the Met needs. We have recently witnessed enough of this with the phone hacking scandal which has shown where this type of corrupt networking leads. That Dodd failed to ask Bratton how well he knows Rupert Murdoch; and whether he ever enjoyed his families hospitality, was an omission to far. He also failed to put it to Bratton how come his tenure in New York only lasted 18 months, hardly long enough to redecorate his new New York office, let alone clean up the cities mean streets.
So what lays behind Cameron's public promotion of Bratton? Could it be yet another attempt by the Coalition to take us back to a 19th century type society. Until the late 1960s, Metropolitan Police Commissioners were political appointments made by the PM. Members of the establishment, mainly ex military, who gained what experience they had of policing in the colonies. Like most public appointments in those days, an ability to network amongst the ‘good and great’ and being of the ‘right type’ was the main criteria needed to be appointed to this position.
In the post WW2 period as blatant class prejudice faded slightly, people recognized this had been disastrous, as senior detectives at the Yard had been able to tip their hats in a servile way to the commissioner, whilst building criminal networks within the Met. Robert Mark was appointed to be the first commissioner to have come up through the ranks, because it was thought this would be the only way the Mets filthy stables could be adequately cleaned, and so it proved. After Mark left office in 1977, it became an unwritten rule that the commissioner must have served in all ranks of the police service, from constable upwards. For example Hugh Orde, Bratton’s main challenger for the post of commissioner, joined the Met in 1977, served as a constable until 1981, when he was promoted a sergeant in Brixton and subsequently rose through the ranks until he became chief Constable of the PSNI and later the head ACPO.
There is absolutely no doubt this was a democratization to far for the upper middle class Tory political elite whose representative on earth today is David Cameron. If he gets his way and is allowed to appoint Bratton, he will have set a precedent; and the current system of a commissioner having served in the ranks will end. The Met will return to the dark days of having an establishment titular head and beneath that, a group of often corrupt officers who lead waring factions.
The British armed forces in which working class squadies rarely rise beyond the rank of warrant officer, has always been a victim of such class elitism. If the police, the other armed hammer of the state also go down this road, it will confirm peoples fears that the UK has become the most undemocratic and class prejudiced nation in western Europe.