Will Cameron get his man?

The PM wants "supercop" Bill Bratton to lead the Met but Theresa May is "adamantly" opposed.

Bill Bratton, the man predictably dubbed "supercop" by the media, uses an interview in today's Guardian to stake his claim to the top job in British policing - commissioner of the Metropolitan police. Bratton, who served as the chief of police in Los Angeles and New York, is prepared to take British citizenship in order to win the post. But he tells the paper that Theresa May has been "adamant" in banning foreign nationals from applying.

Significantly, however, Bratton is known to be David Cameron's choice to run Scotland Yard, turning this into a trial of strength for the Prime Minister. The Spectator's James Forsyth, who is close to Cameron, writes that whether or not he forces May to back down, is an early test of whether he is prepared to move from being "a chairman of the board-style figure to being a chief executive".

Unsurprisingly, Cameron's decision to name Bratton as an adviser on gangs and crime has antagonised the police, who are wary of any further challenge to their authority and view Bratton as a dangerous maverick. Sir Hugh Orde, the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, who is himself in the running for the Met post, commented at the weekend: "I am not sure I want to learn about gangs from an area of America that has 400 of them. It seems to me, if you've got 400 gangs, then you're not being very effective." He added that talk of importing foreign police chiefs was "simply stupid".

But Bratton makes an impressive pitch. With an eye to liberal opinion, he describes himself as a "progressive" who hired "more people from ethnic minorities, women, gay people and transvestite people" in order to make the police forces he ran more representative of the communities they serve. He derides his critics as "parachoial" and says he has always been an "outsider". The interview also makes it clear why Cameron is so attracted to Bratton. He tells the paper: "I've been an outsider in every department I've worked in. Bureaucrats change processes, leaders change culture. I think of myself as a transformational leader who changes cultures." This is the language of Cameron's "enemies of enterprise" speech, in which he launched a fierce attack on government bureaucracies. Indeed, it was Cameron who once described the police as "the last great unreformed public service". Whether or not he prevails on the Bratton question is an important test of his reforming instincts.

In the meantime, it will be worth watching to see what Ed Miliband has to say about all of this when he speaks at his alma mater, Haverstock School, today at 10:30am.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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The rise of the green mayor – Sadiq Khan and the politics of clean energy

At an event at Tate Modern, Sadiq Khan pledged to clean up London's act.

On Thursday night, deep in the bowls of Tate Modern’s turbine hall, London Mayor Sadiq Khan renewed his promise to make the capital a world leader in clean energy and air. Yet his focus was as much on people as power plants – in particular, the need for local authorities to lead where central governments will not.

Khan was there to introduce the screening of a new documentary, From the Ashes, about the demise of the American coal industry. As he noted, Britain continues to battle against the legacy of fossil fuels: “In London today we burn very little coal but we are facing new air pollution challenges brought about for different reasons." 

At a time when the world's leaders are struggling to keep international agreements on climate change afloat, what can mayors do? Khan has pledged to buy only hybrid and zero-emissions buses from next year, and is working towards London becoming a zero carbon city.

Khan has, of course, also gained heroic status for being a bête noire of climate-change-denier-in-chief Donald Trump. On the US president's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Khan quipped: “If only he had withdrawn from Twitter.” He had more favourable things to say about the former mayor of New York and climate change activist Michael Bloomberg, who Khan said hailed from “the second greatest city in the world.”

Yet behind his humour was a serious point. Local authorities are having to pick up where both countries' central governments are leaving a void – in improving our air and supporting renewable technology and jobs. Most concerning of all, perhaps, is the way that interest groups representing business are slashing away at the regulations which protect public health, and claiming it as a virtue.

In the UK, documents leaked to Greenpeace’s energy desk show that a government-backed initiative considered proposals for reducing EU rules on fire-safety on the very day of the Grenfell Tower fire. The director of this Red Tape Initiative, Nick Tyrone, told the Guardian that these proposals were rejected. Yet government attempts to water down other EU regulations, such as the energy efficiency directive, still stand.

In America, this blame-game is even more highly charged. Republicans have sworn to replace what they describe as Obama’s “war on coal” with a war on regulation. “I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump announced in March. While he has vowed “to promote clean air and clear water,” he has almost simultaneously signed an order to unravel the Clean Water Rule.

This rhetoric is hurting the very people it claims to protect: miners. From the Ashes shows the many ways that the industry harms wider public health, from water contamination, to air pollution. It also makes a strong case that the American coal industry is in terminal decline, regardless of possibile interventions from government or carbon capture.

Charities like Bloomberg can only do so much to pick up the pieces. The foundation, which helped fund the film, now not only helps support job training programs in coal communities after the Trump administration pulled their funding, but in recent weeks it also promised $15m to UN efforts to tackle climate change – again to help cover Trump's withdrawal from Paris Agreement. “I'm a bit worried about how many cards we're going to have to keep adding to the end of the film”, joked Antha Williams, a Bloomberg representative at the screening, with gallows humour.

Hope also lies with local governments and mayors. The publication of the mayor’s own environment strategy is coming “soon”. Speaking in panel discussion after the film, his deputy mayor for environment and energy, Shirley Rodrigues, described the move to a cleaner future as "an inevitable transition".

Confronting the troubled legacies of our fossil fuel past will not be easy. "We have our own experiences here of our coal mining communities being devastated by the closure of their mines," said Khan. But clean air begins with clean politics; maintaining old ways at the price of health is not one any government must pay. 

'From The Ashes' will premiere on National Geograhpic in the United Kingdom at 9pm on Tuesday, June 27th.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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