According to some reports today’s meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority was rowdy with much heckling and disruption from protestors about the policing of the G20 demonstrations. As someone who over the years has been in many meetings where there have interruptions from the gallery, this was – in actual fact – rather mild stuff. There were at most 15-20 protestors (so much for “kettling” MPA members in City Hall) and they were nowhere near disrupting the meeting. Mayor Boris Johnson warned them once not to be too rowdy but apart from the odd shouted comment there was really very little to interfere with the discussion at the meeting.
Of course, the discussion itself was rather low-key. MPA members had had a behind-closed-doors briefing on the policing of the G20 demonstrations a few days before and, as a result, for those observing the proceedings, it must have seemed as though a lot of ground was not covered.
Nevertheless, there was no doubting the wide concern amongst most MPA members about aspects of the policing and a consensus motion was agreed that the MPA would set up a new “Civil Liberties Panel” that would examine the issues in more detail. It will be interesting to see who emerges as the Chair of this group.
The meeting itself lasted for three hours – exceeding by 50% the arbitrary time allocation that has been imposed on meetings since the new adminsitration took control of the Authority. Mayor Boris Johnson chaired the meeting quite well, allowing everyone to have their say (many times in the case of Jenny Jones AM), although Uber Vice-Chairman, Kit Malthouse AM, had to reprimand the Mayor at one point for interupting him (Kit) before he had finished his point.
Mayor Johnson was also visibly engaged in the discussion with few signs of his customary boredom. He made a virtuoso defence of his article in the Telegraph when accused of fomenting violence (no-one recognises irony when they see it), perked up when one of the members suggested including “inter alia” in the wording of the consensus resolution, and when I asked about the role of the so-called Police Medics added (not quite sotto voce) “..and look after the people they’ve just hit”.