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Manchester’s Political Heroes and Villains: GMP’s Sir Peter Fahy takes on Salford’s mayor

Comment by John Paul Shammas

This week in heroes and villains, our policing big-wigs stand up for what is right, and the Mayor of Salford commits PR suicide by hiring a PR guy.

So who’s the hero of the week then? That sacred mantle goes to Greater Manchester Police’s Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy.

What’s he done that was so wonderful? This week he spoke out against the lack of ethnic representation in GMP ranks.He said that big cities like our lovely Manchester have become more ethnically diverse, and that this change has not been represented in the police force.

How bad is the problem then? Pretty bad. Home Office figures revealed this week that the percentage of ethnic minority officers stands at 5.6% or lower across all policing ranks, with figures as low as 2.8% within the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Bloody hell! Tell me about it.

So what makes this Fahy chap so heroic then? I’m glad you asked. Policing needs to be about understanding communities, and if our GMP can’t represent what they attempt to maintain, then their legitimacy is under threat.

Fahy believes creating a more diverse service to those communities should be a legal requirement, and frankly, it’s about time someone with some clout came out and said something.

Hold on, isn’t this just political correctness gone mad? No, not at all. The argument as to why the representation of ethnic minorities in policing needs to change is based on wholly practical and operational reasons.

Fair enough. So who’s the villain of the week? That poisoned chalice goes to Mayor of Salford and full-time facial hair enthusiast, Ian Stewart.

Okay, so what’s he done this week that makes him such a baddy? Back in October, he hired a controversial spin doctor in a bid to improve his image.

Don’t most people just go to the gym to improve their image? Not when you’re the Mayor of Salford. Instead, he hired Tony Blair’s former PR chap to be his communications supremo.

Has the guy got a name? Matt Finnegan, but he has been dubbed ‘The Alistair Campbell of the North’.

I don’t see what’s so wrong with all this? This spin doctor gets paid £66,000 a year!

But that will be paid for by Labour right? Nope. The good people of Salford are dishing out for this spin doctor.

I’M OUTRAGED. And rightly so. It’s Ian Stewart’s job to run Salford Council, not to play politics. Meanwhile, 150 jobs are being cut at Salford Council and 629 workers are set for pay cuts. The council are doing everything they can to make savings of up to £18million and yet £66,000 a year is being blown on this PR guy.

Does this not show major problems in the world of politics? Yes, you might have a point. This whole debacle showcases a mayor that is arguably more committed to having a squeaky-clean image and bidding for a 2015 cabinet position than a man who has Salford’s best interests in mind.

Isn’t it ironic that he hired this guy to give him a good image, and this appointment has actually given him a bad image? I’d say you were spot on.

Please note: Opinions expressed above are those of the journalist and do not necessarily represent the views of Mancunian Matters. The regular Heroes and Villains column is intended for entertainment purposes.

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