Another day, another high-profile tosspot slithering into the breach to ‘hold somebody to account’. It is habitually virtue-signalling, foghorn journalists who have larger gobs than mandates, but space-wasting politicians also love to flex their mouth muscles as the moral accountants of the social mire.
This is not holding to account, which takes courage and most of all vigilance – but risk-free, retroactive kickings administered by loquacious lickspittles who have fortuitously purloined a perch from which they can bloat their self-righteousness at the expense of others.
Paradoxically, those charged with the bona fide business of making officials accountable – like our political opposition – gingerly step away from the fray. The rough stuff is just way too hazardous for the incorrigible careerists who plague – and feed off – our public services.
So, over and above a damaging Government that is accountable to nobody, we are left to be entertained by the charade of false accounting, if you like. This pantomime is of course exemplified by the egregious spectacle of Commons select committees periodically swinging their limp weeners in front of businessmen, who carry on regardless with their regardless carry-ons.
And other dolts do deftly dip in to hoover up some of that self-aggrandising or self-exculpatory gold dust. This time round on the clown conveyer belt, it’s a self-promoting, over-stretching New Labour nincompoop, the Thunderturd himself, Andy Burn’em, who has forced the resignation of Manchester’s top cop after it had leaked out that the force had been under-reporting annual crime to the tune of 80,000. That is some tweaking. Once Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) had got wind of it, it was never going to meet with the underlay of the mayoral carpet.
Now, I have no beef with the top cop being hoofed out for this howler. It’s on his watch, and he is the force’s head honcho.
But if supervisory accountability is the name of the game, then Houston….we have a problem. Or at least the mayor does because it is he who supervises the force. If Burn’em hadn’t known what was going down until HMIC had zip-wired in, he can only not have been looking closely enough. And that is the either/or proposition that got the plug pulled on top plod.
Yet ‘Big A’, as nobody surely calls him, has resisted calls to fall on his own ceremonial sword because his job is not to run GMP but, yep, you’ve guessed it, ‘…to hold the police to account.’
So, in his supervisory role, he had never noticed anything untoward himself? That smacks either of a failure of supervision or of a scramble to act when HMIC sent the balloon up. More than likely, a dash of both.
And there’s more.
The assembled media were treated to a sombre statement from the mayor, who stood there, all thick glasses and guyliner, his boldness as brass as his neck, to proclaim that he had, even as an MP, been cognizant of the force’s cultural refusal of issue resolution and of continuous improvement.
Now, that is quite the statement, and it begged the obvious question why, on becoming Mayor, Burnham had never got straight in there to (yeeee-hah!) ‘hold them to account’?
It moreover begged a riposte from police circles that might challenge the bespectacled buffoon on his own record with a few meaty specifics. He had after all now put himself ‘on offer’.
And so it came to pass. Step forward former Detective Constable Maggie Oliver, who deftly lobbed in a hand grenade that even Henry Gayle would struggle to bat away. She and two colleagues had been granted an audience with the big cheese in 2018 to raise ‘serious concerns’ about how grooming cases were being handled and had been ‘treated with contempt’. She had reportedly whistled up 26 examples of victims being failed by GMP, which had included alleged ‘gross neglect’ that had ‘led to deaths’.
In terms of police malpractice, this is as serious as it gets. What is more, this was not external speculation from a disgruntled, axe-grinding malevolent. These were serving officers breaking ranks. You might have expected the number two to have graced the blades of the proverbial air cooler. Yet presented with evidence that at the very least warranted a probe, Burnham essentially ‘slammed the door in [their] faces’.
Whatever his reasons for killing it, only he knows for sure. He certainly was not busting a gut at that stage to ‘hold anybody to account’. Notwithstanding the appalling denial of justice to the victims of grooming, firm action at that point might also have obviated the crime stats shenanigans of two years later. It doesn’t read well at all, but just take a moment to contrast the protagonists here.
Well, on the one hand, I think we’ve got the measure of Thunderturd.
On the other hand, Maggie Oliver was a proper copper – the sort who was prepared to put her job on the line in order to put bad bastards where they belonged. That, my friends, is holding to account. Stepping up and using your authority to take action when you see it, even if it means drawing fire.
As for the mayor, by now firmly grasping the authority to fire the top cop for his supervisory failings over the force, the town hall boss has strongly asserted his supervisory status over the Chief. And in doing so, he has pulled his own pants down.
He either knew all along that the crime numbers were false – and did nothing – or he was blissfully unaware. Either way, he should now be hoist by his own petard and held to account.
If we take him at his word, he’d surely be the first to agree?