Can the police use Andrew Mitchell to make themselves look better?
WILL Andrew Mitchell go down in history as the man who created gate-gate, the ultimate post-Watergate gate story? Mitchell, the Government Chief Whip, denies calling police guarding Downing Street a “pleb” or “moron”. He does, however, regret not showing police “the amount of respect I should have done”.
Mitchell wanted to take his bicycle through the main Downing Street Gates. Police said he couldn’t. The Sun says he told a constable:
“Best you learn your fucking place. You don’t run this fucking government. You’re fucking plebs.”
Mitchell now says:
“I have apologised to the police, I have apologised to the police officer involved on the gate and he’s accepted my apology and I hope very much that we can draw a line under it there.”
Only, the copper’s notes says Mitchell called them a “pleb”. Do we believe the police or the Tory? Labour are using Mitchell as a sign that if you wait long enough the Tory’s true personality seeps out. If you pay attention, you can see any number of Tory ministers feeling up nurses, urinating on firemen and pointing and laughing at disabled soldiers.
Metropolitan Police Federation chairman John Tully tells Sky News:
“It is not the words, police officers are quite thick skinned, what infuriates me here is that a minister is saying police officers are liars. We need a full and frank inquiry. There is a clear difference of opinion, and we need to establish what happened.”
Thick-skinned? Oh, puh-lease. The Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, John Tully, told ITV:
“If you believe what’s in the Sun, the officers have reported verbatim what he said. He did use the ‘pleb’ word. That is unacceptable. Any member of the public would receive a warning.”
A warning in case you call a copper a pleb again and the full might of the State falls on your head. Tully adds:
The time for resignation has passed. The prime minister needs to take decisive action. It’s now about integrity. He’s questioning the officers. They’ve been professional throughout, he hasn’t. He needs to be sacked. For someone in a position of authority, it’s a very very bad example for them to set.
Ian Edwards, the chairman of the West Midlands Police Federation says:
“Bearing in mind the timing, the comments are grossly insensitive and very offensive to police officers and their families.”
Timing referring to the murder of two police officers in Manchester or the Hillsborough Report in which police were found guilty of fitting up 96 dead people, falsly blaming them for their own deaths? This is PR policing. They are using Mitchell to save themselves.
Metropolitan Police Federation chairman John Tully has more to add:
“The information I have is that Mr Mitchell did use offensive language – he used the words ‘pleb’ and ‘morons’ as well as expletives, which is totally unacceptable. It constitutes a criminal offence under the Public Order Act, Section 5, and I would say he’s very lucky not to have been arrested.”
And then what of Mitchell’s statement?
Well I want first of all to reiterate the apology I made last week in Downing Street. It had been the end of a long and frustrating day. Not that that is any excuse at all for what happened.
Only, it is an excuse:
I didn’t show the police the amount of respect I should have done. We should all respect the police they do an incredibly difficult job. I have apologised to the police, I have apologised to the officer on the gate, and he has accepted my apology, and I hope very much that we can draw a line under it there.
I am very clear about what I said, and what I didn’t say, and I want to make it absolutely clear I did not say the words attributed to me. I am now going to go and get on with my work
Of course, what Mitchell actually did was swear at the gates. Bloody gates are the bane of our lives…