I like a maverick and I like Brian Paddick, the ex-Met Assistant Commissioner, who has now thrown his hat into the ring to become the Lib-Dems’ candidate for London Mayor. They don’t come much more maverick than Paddick: the youngest area commander in the Force’s history, whose softly-softly cannabis policy on his Brixton manor caused a furore, the openly gay copper who rapidly rose up the greasy pole of this once most arch-homophobic of institutions.
Yes, Paddick, who went on internet chatrooms, not to chat up male escorts like some Tory “family values” hypocrite, but to express understanding for the actions of anti-capitalist protesters. Frankly, he makes Boris “Dizzy Blond” Johnson’s antics look positively staid by comparison. I hope the Lib-Dems will select him: unlike Simon Hughes, he’s potentially an arthropod of a politician, with all the skeletons on the outside already.
However, a few words of warning to the wannabe Mayor. Paddick, narked at the way he was sidelined from even more police power, began spinning against the Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, before the smoke had cleared from the Jean Charles de Menezes shooting. Now Paddick has published a full account of that fateful day from his perspective.
I happen to believe in the veracity of what he says, and while the IPCC Report on the shooting may have cleared Sir Ian of wilfully misleading the public, there are grave questions still dangling over the Commissioner’s head. As for the Mayor, he is being naive when he suggests that Paddick should have chimed in at the press conference where Sir Ian maintained the investigation was still live.
Either Sir Ian was woefully out of touch with his beat, or his own account remains incomplete. In person, the Commissioner does a very good job of convincing you that the business of policing the Great Wen is so scary that your average citizen would be better off just letting the professionals get on with the job.
Frankly, it’s a far better shtick than the one wielded by successive toughguy Home Secretaries, of whom Jaqui Smith is only the latest. But ultimately, the London electorate have a limited appetite for the he-said, he-said of these two battling Woodentops. If Paddick wants to make more political capital out of the Brazilian electrician’s death, he’ll have to tackle the awkward questions about the legality of the shooting itself, and the sense that many of us have, that the Met’s tactical firearms units, for purely operational reasons, you understand, are in danger of viewing themselves as above the law.
And beyond that, having ditched his own uniform, it’s up to this particular contender to remember that we don’t live in a police state. We don’t much care that you were once a tightly-buttoned copper, Brian: we want to see your other policies.
Criticisms are being lodged against the winsome Ricky Gervais, tickets for whose Fame stand-up show at Edinburgh Castle have retailed for nigh-on 40 smackers, hardly the going rate for a gag-merchant. His spokeswoman shrugged them off, observing that it was an 8,000-seater venue and it’s sold out. Is this what’s become of your satirical thrust, Mr Gervais, a blunt instrument that will batter away at whatever the market will bear? You were great when you stuck to playing losers, but the price of your fame sucks.
To Brockwell Park for a little splashing about in the paddling pool, a delightful, sylvan spot on the Tulse Hill side of this quintessential London open space. Frankly, if you’re a parent, and you aren’t Roman Abramovitch, you see a lot of park life in the summer holidays. But what could be finer? All of human life is here, young and old, wet and dry.
Now Transport for London is trying to shave 1,000 square metres off the Herne Hill end of Brockwell Park for a new traffic scheme, while there are also dark mutterings that the paddling pool itself is to be moved. I definitely wouldnt fight for Queen and country but Londons parks are worth defending to the ice-cream-smeared, sunblock-dashed hilt.
Bolstered by the runaway success of his book The God Delusion, which, according to a survey, is favoured reading even in the corridors of power, Richard Dawkins, Britain’s favourite atheist, is turning the laser-beam of his reason on assorted crystal-danglers, ley-liners and other New Agers.
Presumably Dawkins’s documentary, scheduled for the autumn, will tell us that these people, too, are dreadfully deluded, possibly dangerous to the credulous masses and that their cherished views lack even a jot of scientific proof. Big deal.
You would have thought a scientific thinker of Dawkins’s calibre might turn his attention to original thinking, instead of banging on about what doesn’t exist. It strikes me he doth protest too much — atheists who believe fervently in no-God are quite as intemperate as their deist opponents. It’s up to us agnostics, who believe in the real comfort of doubt itself, to preserve the status quo in our multi-faith society.