Blair today, gone tomorrow.
That stubborn obstinacy to admit to his failings however was something that completely dominated his tenure as the Metropolitan police's chief commissioner. While the execution of a Brazilian man on a tube train the day after an attempted round of suicide attacks was ultimately what brought him down, with its slow but inexorable casting of a shadow over him, this was a policeman who thought that he was a politician first and a cop second. He never ceased to inform the country of just how dark the sky was due to the potential threat of exploding brown people, even while his officers proved themselves almost as adept at causing fear as the terrorists' attempts were amateurish. He campaigned for up to 90 days detention without charge, thought that identity cards were a brilliant idea, and generally put himself about as much as he possibly could.
While you cannot directly blame Blair personally for the smear campaigns against Jean Charles de Menezes and secondly the Kalam family, he was ultimately responsible for the actions of his officers. What he can be directly linked to was the decision to plead not guilty to the charges brought under the health and safety act, especially when so many other senior officers pleaded with him to take the hit and get over it. Again, even this wouldn't have been so bad if he had instructed his lawyers not to be aggresive and instead defend the Met purely from the operational point of view, that it had been a dreadful mistake in an incredibly hectic and uncertain time, but they didn't; they went straight for the jugular. Jean Charles de Menezes was according to Ronald Thwaites QC more or less asking for it: despite never being challenged by the police, Thwaites claimed that he had failed to comply with them; that he looked like the suspect, when his skin tone was completely different; that he was aggressive and threatening when he acted just like every other commuter that morning, as the CCTV showed; and that he might have acted in such a way because he may have thought he had cocaine in his pocket, even though he hadn't.
No one with absolutely any feeling for the de Menezes family would have argued such a case, but Ian Blair somehow imagined it was appropriate. Just like other things he thought were appropriate, such as recording a call he made to the attorney general without permission, as well as ones to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The IPCC in fact undoubtedly delivered the most telling criticism of him: that if he hadn't, as soon as he knew a man had been shot dead by police on 22/07/05, wrote to the prime minister asking that the IPCC be stopped from launching their investigation into the death of someone at the hands of the police, as they are legally required to do, then many of the things that subsequently happened that resulted in the prosecution against the Met may not have occurred. There was never any evidence that Blair was trying to cover anything up, as after all, he was completely out of the loop. It was just a typically ignorant, short-sighted move, delaying something that would have had to be done at some point as a matter of course. That delay effectively left him a dead man walking.
I take no pleasure, not even schadenfreude, not just because it sets a precedent where the London Mayor can effectively veto the choice of the home secretary, not to mention the MPA, further politicising the role, but because as bad as Blair was in so many ways, there's hardly a whole bundle of talent waiting to take over from him. And as much as he was potentially corrupt, constantly scaremongering, interfering in political discussions and out of his depth, he also was probably the most liberal, at least on general policing and on encouraging ethnic minorities to join the force, commanding officer the Met has ever had and is now likely to have for quite some time. Despite his apparent personality clashes with both Ali Dizaei and Tarique Ghuffar, he started the move towards a more representative Met, and no one I think can begin to suggest that was anything but a good thing. When you consider that the other most senior police officers, or at least publicly recognisable ones of late have been Lord Stevens, Andy Hayman and Peter Clarke, all of them as either convinced of the sky falling as Blair was or in the case of Hayman, just as guilty as Blair over de Menezes whilst also accused of siphoning off money, then it doesn't exactly fill you with hope that the replacement will be any better. Celebrate the demise of Blair if we must, but perhaps as with what we got after the other Blair, we might come to rue what we wished for.