Saturday, August 04, 2007

Paddick for Mayor rumours resurface

Rumours have abounded since 2006 that ex top cop number 2 Brian Paddick will step forward to run as Lib Dem candidate for Mayor of London after his retirement form the force. If he does, I will be thrilled. I can see that blogging Boris 'Bumbling' Johnson is a valuable contribution to the gaiety of the nation, and he is good on civil liberties stuff, being a useful contributor to Chris Atkin's excellent Taking Liberties movie but London Mayor? Shurely shome mistake.

If a Tory were to win, I would prefer Richard Barnes, whose diligent work as Chair of the London Assembly's 7 July Review Committee led to the most useful analysis of lessons learned after the London bombings of July 2005.

But now step forward Commander Brian? Fellow urban75-ite Brian took some of the most repellent homophobic abuse ever dished out by British newspapers after his innovative and hugely successful community-policing strategy in South London, notably in Brixton and Lambeth. Supported by then Commisioner Sir John Stevens, now a Brown Cabinet adviser, Brian pioneered an on-the-spot confiscation/warning policy for cannabis user offences, rather than prosecution, leading to enhanced relations with locals. Previously Brian had been in charge of the Notting Hill Carnival policing, But the right-wing press turned on him and attacked him for being 'soft on drugs', and apparently - 'being gay'. The Mail on Sunday was forced to apologise and pay damages after it published a story from his former partner alleging he had used cannabis. Brian also got into hot water when he contributed to a thread on urban75, a lively Brixton-based message board. It was reported by idiots in newspapers that he was an 'anarchist', in fact he'd said that

''The concept of anarchism has always appealed to me. The idea of the innate goodness of the individual that is corrupted by society or the system. It is a theoretical argument but I am not sure everyone would behave well if there were no laws and no system. I believe there are many people forced into causing harm to others by the way society operates at the moment. They would not have to behave in this way if the current system did not exist or was radically different. What am I saying here? I am saying that the way society operates at the moment, with all the injustice and discrimination, pushes people to act against their nature to damage and harm others. Eradicate all injustice and discrimination - would that stop all people damaging and harming each other - I am not sure. If there were still people who would continue to exploit and harm others, how would you stop such injustice if you had no system, no society?''

Which is fair enough, as part of a discussion about anarchy and political systems.

There were rallies in support of him when he announced he was leaving Brixton. Unheard of for a copper.

Brian was also superb on July 7th and after when he gave out most of the Met press briefings as senior spokesman; like Ken Livingstone, the current Mayor, he articulated London's shock and exuded calm dignity whilst stressing the need for unity and giving out clear information. He was a good contributor on urban 75 ( I have just read all his old posts). With his listening skills, his reasonableness, his intelligence, and his ceaseless efforts to engage with communities, he'd pose a real threat to Ken Livingstone if he did stand. And he's proved he can withstand a media storm. Whether the de Menezes tragedy and his outspokenness will cast a shadow over any political ambitions he has remains to be seen. I hope his book comes out soon and sells bucketloads. And if he runs, I'll vote for him.

Brian posting on urban 75...

'Where do I start? I am here as myself. I am a police officer and a human being. These are my own personal views. I am not giving some official view. I am doing this in my own time because I want to. I think it is really important that I talk to all sorts of people from all backgrounds to make sure I have a more balanced view of life. I really want to try to move beyond all the hate and anger people feel although I understand people are expressing how they really feel. This board provides an important place where people can express themselves and I would like to express myself as well.'

''In my opinion, some but not much street crime is carried out by chaotic drug users. Many are not up to running after people and attacking them. Chaotic users tend to go for shoplifting, breaking into cars, burglary and begging - the non-confrontational stuff.In my opinion, street crime is primarily carried out by intelligent, scheming, physically fit young men and women who are either very quick or very violent. It is seen as an alternative (some think the only alternative) way of getting the designer gear, living the life the advertisements say they should be leading, rather than getting a job. "Why work at McDs for £5 an hour when you can make 10x that from street crime and get your thrills at the same time?"

The tragedy is, if they turned their physical and intellectual abilities to something useful many would succeed.Two things need to be done to defeat street crime. First, make it more difficult to commit street crime e.g. getting potential victims more street-wise, improved street lighting, more police patrols, improved criminal justice systems (not just jail). Second, make it easier for people to earn an honest living e.g. improved education tailored to young people's needs, more employment opportunities, real efforts to eradicate discrimination against poor people, black people, ex-offenders, homeless people, in the job market, and providing reasonably paid jobs with dignity for young people.

According to the criminologists, there is no proven causal link between drugs and crime. There is a causal link between poverty and crime and between poverty and chaotic drug misuse. We need to do some cost-benefit analyses on, how much do we save around crime and health service costs if we lift people out of poverty through job creation, and decent welfare benefits for those who cannot work?

Drugs can screw your life up - even if you start in control things can soon get out of control. You then lose your job, then you might turn to crime because you have no income to fund your habit. If you have enough income to fund a chaotic habit, you can be a crackhead or a smackhead and never commit a crime (other than drugs offences) as many celebs allegedly do!D o 90% of people arrested for crime have traces of illegal drugs in their system because they are all chaotic drug users trying to fund a habit? Or if you are the sort of person who breaks the law and ends up being arrested, are you also someone who probably does not care too much about the drugs laws either? I go for option 'B'.''

''I really appreciate all you guys entering the debate. The thing about views that you strongly disagree with is they make you think. They make you question what you do and what you believe in. That has got to be healthy. I hope none of you are completely unchanged by what has been said here.At the end of the day, I just wanted to try to make things better within the limited sphere in which I operated. I will leave the revolution to you guys!''

See? Completely sensible. Come on Brian, publish - and then stand!
Meanwhile Boris has a new book about cars out. It was next to mine in the Buy One Get One Half Price shelf at Books Etc.

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Blogger Graham the Funky Aardvark said...

Ooooh, an intresting idea, I think this might just work

Shame I don't live in London anymore, but my Dad lives in Stoke Newington, hummm

I wonder what Mr O'Mara snr. thinks, I shall ask him

August 04, 2007 7:37 pm  
Blogger The Stress Witch said...

He sounds almost too good to be true - and that reminds me of the old cliche that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

But if it was a choice between him and Boris, well, there'd be no contest, really. A lot of that quote about the concept of anarchism is pure Gramsci - and that in itself takes your breath away when you consider his day job.

Keeping an eye on the other rumours about his interest in being elevated to a peerage, though...

August 04, 2007 11:23 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a Facebook group for his supporters here if you fancy expressing your support there too:

August 06, 2007 2:04 pm  
Blogger DAVE BONES said...

Yeah I was well pleased to hear about this too having followed Brian's ups and downs over the years. Brian for Mayor! Anarchy for the UK! or at least for London anyway...

August 06, 2007 11:08 pm  

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