James Forsyth

The Tories must be prepared to launch a reverse march through the institutions

The Tories must be prepared to launch a reverse march through the institutions
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Sir Hugh Orde, the new president of ACPO, has predictably come out against elected police chiefs. Andrew Sparrow  has the key extract from his speech:

“If people seriously think some form of elected individual is better placed to oversee policing than the current structure, then I am very interested in the detail of how that is going to work – and happy to have that debate. Every professional bone in my body tells me it is a bad idea that could drive a coach and horses through the current model of accountability and add nothing but confusion. I note that our partners here in the [Association of Police Authorities] are keen to engage, and I am sure that our current model can be built on, but it seems to me that communities have a right to have their police service held to account in a sophisticated and apolitical way. I am pleased that government has woken up to this by withdrawing their former proposals and look forward to debate with others who still hang on to this idea."

Orde is the former head of the Northern Ireland Police Service and was on the shortlist to be the next commissioner of the Met. He is, like Sir Ian Blair, not a traditional policemen but a politician in uniform.

If you want to know what is wrong with the way Britain is run, these remarks from Orde are a good place to start. First of all there is the sneering contempt for democracy and the citizenry summed up by the sneering phrase “If people seriously think” in relation to the question of whether electing police chiefs could be better than the current opaque arrangements. Then, there is the comically confused logic of saying that “communities have a right to have their police service held to account in a sophisticated and apolitical way.” Why shouldn’t communities have the right to hold their police to account in a simple and direct manner.

Orde’s opposition is typical of the resistance that the Tories will encounter from vested interests in the areas where they are planning to be truly radical. The Tories musn’t blink in the face of it.  But rather they should welcome the challenge. If power to the people is to be more than just a sound bite, people like Orde must be faced down.