Itâ€™s Got to be Godwin
There are four applicants for the Met Commissionerâ€™s job and the Home Office has indicated it wants to process completed in a matter of weeks. Now is the time to make an assessment of their chances prior to a wager with either Stan James, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, William Hill or Victor Chandler. Although in law the Home Secretary only has to consult the Mayor, Jacqui Smith set a precedent in 2009 by asking Boris to do a joint interview with Paul Stephenson and Hugh Orde. But May has the final say.
Steve House is as short as 1/2 with Paddy Power but 6/4 with Stan James, but the consistent favourite. He was an Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Crime (murder, rape, fraud) in the Met before becoming Chief of Strathclyde. He is a safe pair of hands and may benefit from being both ex-Met and a new broom. Thereâ€™s been a fair amount of chatter about his experience of gangs which arises from his work in the Met and Iain Duncan Smith’s interest in tackling gangs in Glasgow. However as House himself argued 2 and a half years ago, when defending himself from a critical Centre for Social Justice report, â€˜Although both London and Glasgow have problems with gangs, the nature of the problems are completely different.â€™ The more recent appointment of Bill Bratton as an advisor to David Cameron on gangs negates one of Houseâ€™s supposed strengths.
He is a frontrunner, but a touch too short for my liking.
Bernard Hogan Howe is 2/1-11/4 second favourite. He has most recently been HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, but was drafted in by the Home Secretary as Temporary Deputy Commissioner. Itâ€™s perhaps important to note that Hogan Howe failed to be short-listed last time. Has he achieved the quantum leap necessary to take on the top policing job in the country? Iâ€™m not sure. 2/1 is a poor price and it opens up real value elsewhere.
Sir Hugh Orde ranges from 3/1- 7/1 but deserves to be the rank outsider. He was shortlisted last time and was at the time seen as a successful and popular Chief in Northern Ireland. However his strident political positioning since then is likely to rule him out as a serious contender. He has been ACPO President for two years and has been virulent in his opposition to the Conservative Partyâ€™s plans for elected Police and Crime Commissioners saying that â€˜lunaticsâ€™ will win these elections . If that wasnâ€™t enough there are plenty of Tory MPs who are very hostile to ACPO http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1365669/27-000-pay-rise-police-chief-told-officers-share-pain-cuts.html and I just cannot see May sticking her neck out for someone who will cause so much trouble for the Government. Add a zero to his price.
Tim Godwin is currently 6/1-8/1 (best price with Paddy Power but others taking larger amounts) in the market and has been Deputy Commissioner at the Met since 2009 where he was tipped at that stage to be a likely a possible successor to Paul Stephenson when he retired. Prior to this Godwin was Assistant Commissioner Territorial Policing, meaning he was in charge of the local policing of Londonâ€™s 32 Boroughs. Itâ€™s fair to say he knows the city inside out which may be particularly relevant for the 2012 Olympics. In that job he brought in Safer Neighbourhoods Teams and is credited as the scheme’s author.
Godwin is seen as relentless in driving reform of court and criminal justice processes that will reduce police bureaucracy . In an era of cuts and pressure on the judicial system, this is the stuff Ministers want to hear. One initiative of Godwinâ€™s is the virtual courts where an offender who wishes to plead guilty can appear before a magistrate there and then by video link. This now seems like a plan for these times. The polls show the Met acquitted itself well following the riots and far better than the leading politicians.
I see this as effectively a choice between House and Godwin. Theresa May has nominated Godwin once already as to fill Paul Stephensonâ€™s, boots albeit temporarily. With the looming Olympics in mind, she may want someone who can hit the ground running and his reforming credentials and knowledge of Londonâ€™s boroughs are second to none. He is in with a serious chance and easily the value pick from the four. If I was pricing this market up blind Iâ€™d actually make Godwin slight favourite. Certainly anything above 5/2 for Godwin is good value with House as a worthwhile odds against saver bet.
HenryG Manson @henrygmanson