There is a high state of alert at the Metropolitan Police Authority meeting that is now in session. Mayor Boris Johnson is in the Chair with the Uber Vice Chairman Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse AM at his side and two seats away from Sir Paul Stephenson, the Met Commissioner.
And everyone is on their best behaviour: no inadvertent body language to suggest anything other than perfect harmony between them all.
Everyone is also being careful to minimise references to ships, tillers, captains on the bridge, or anything remotely nautical.
The result is that there is even more of a degree of formality about the Commissioner’s report than usual. However, the Commissioner has clearly been working on his hand gestures while speaking. The preferred style is now: left hand placed on hip; right elbow on table; and the right hand used to emphasise points with small karate-style chops. The UVCDMKMAM – whilst avoiding eye contact with the Commissioner – tried to coordinate his nods with the Commissioner’s chops. However, his hands remained clasped firmly across his stomach throughout, unless he and the Mayor were exchanging terse written notes.
An hour and a half into the meeting – still on questions to the Commissioner slightly to the irritation of some members who were waiting to get on to the rest of the agenda – the elephant in the room was finally mentioned. The member who raised it (which apparently meant that the UVCDMKMAM had won the Mayoral Office sweepstake on who would do it) was – of course (so perhaps it was a rigged sweepstake) – John Biggs AM, who elegantly said he welcomed these question and answer sessions as it demonstrated to the public who was in operational control of the Metropolitan Police and how the MPA’s role was to ensure that the Commissioner was accountable and to set the overall priorities for London’s police.