The Sketch: You wouldn't want to have this guy's stare fixed on you under a swinging lightbulb


Click to follow
The Independent Online

First impressions of the Met's new Commissioner? An athletic, steady-eyed, rough-skinned sort of man. A stranger to exfoliants and facial moisturisers. Lean. Watchful. A discharged soldier who's been sleeping rough would look like Mr Hogan-Howe. He has a fixity of attention that would be unnerving were it applied to oneself under a swinging lightbulb.

And he has the opposite of a glottal stop. A glottal cap, perhaps. The way he spits out his final "t"s, he'd say (if he ever does say it), "Shut it-tah!"

He says he's going to start with the small things. Jolly good. Fighting crime is the thing for the Commissioner. He is rumoured to have recently chased on foot and caught a bicycle thief. Every little helps. He's also aiming at 50 per cent more police on the beat, to bring the Met up to the level he achieved in Merseyside.

If he can deal with the dark, conservative sodality of 55,000 police employees and cut crime by 30 per cent – good luck to him. But one exchange did give cause for some concern. Q: "Who's your boss?" A: "That's a hypothetical question."

It's a big-city job for a country boy. Let's see how he gets on.

The rest of the day consisted of standing around gossiping. Research, as we call it. The results are interesting. Ed Miliband's reshuffle looks like a carefully planned event – as long as the purpose of the plan is to put Ed Balls in his place.

Here is the gossip, conducted in various voices.

"Who are these two junior characters in the shadow Treasury team? No idea. New intake. What do they look like? Never seen them, never heard of them. Rachel's clever though, isn't she? But didn't she write speeches for EDM? Is that why EDB was looking like that at the PLP? No, that was because Stephen Twigg is taking over Ed's old department. Twiggy actually likes free schools. EDB must want to tear his own head off! Or someone's. But then Healey getting fired from Health. Another Balls supporter. And one who resisted any hint of private provision being replaced by Andy Burnham, who's quite relaxed about it. Oooo. I know. Yes."

If Miliband is confident he's caged Balls, he really should resist poking him through the bars. It's fun but it isn't wise.