Only the saddos amongst us in the UK will know much about the plebgate affair! It is one of those events and topics which send the bulk of the sane population into a self induced coma. But should we really be a bit more concerned? Perhaps so!
The so called plebgate affair is a newspaper and media euphemism for a now controversial event on 19 September 2012 in Downing Street, London – this is a ‘security’ gated road leading to the Prime Minister’s residence at No 10. The gates are vigilantly manned by the Police from the Met.
A senior Government cabinet member Andrew Mitchell MP was riding his bike (good for the public image as a man abandoning his chaffer driven car, and saving the planet you see!). He was prevented by the Police officers from going out that way and directed to take a side gate instead – to accord with their security procedures.
Because he considered himself a ‘big noise’ in the Country Andrew Mitchell was extremely angry and reports say he was uncontrollably abusive, used very foul language, threatened the Police with their jobs, and called them names. This was all over in the spate of a minute or two. The name calling which struck a cord with the Press was the claim that he called the Police officers ‘plebs’ (a contemptuous & disrespectful description of a person of low social class – hence the nickname plebgate for the incident! There was a frenzy of media reporting about the use of such a vile word towards our Police officers.
You can be sure that the Police involved have been called worse, but that will have been by drunken louts coming out of clubs late at night, rather than a presumably sober (?) very senior politician and MP. It is against the law to use bad swear words or abuse the Police, and street louts get arrested, charged, and locked-up. Andrew Mitchell was let off of course – you really have to be a somebody to get away Scott free!. Somebody leaked the story however to the media – the finger of suspicion points at the Police!
Andrew Mitchell was of course in denial and his establishment MP friends backed him. It was further leaked (again by the Police?) the actual police log reports about the incident – for some obscure reason such reports are deemed to be top secret – while the hell that should be the situation of a public incident is a mystery to us all!
Then Andrew Mitchell’s important friends rallied round of course, and the Police officers were labelled as ‘liars’. For his part Andrew Mitchell simply would not honestly disclose what he actually said – but he has constantly denied the ‘pleb’ remark, and later claims that although he swore, it was not AT the Police (ummm what do YOU think is the most likely truth about that then?).
Fellow officers being called liars got up the noise of some Police –particularly those in the Police Federation (the police’s union for ranks up to Chief Inspector). The indication or accusation is that they set out to nail Andrew Mitchell – can you really blame them?
Andrew Mitchell, a month after the event, resigned from his job (Chief Whip for the Government – a role where he is required to get the Tory Commons troops to vote with the Government. He acquiesced to calls for him to go, and did so he said because he had lost the total confidence of his fellow MPs – no surprise in that then! He’s changed his tune now though, and these days he, and his high placed friends, insists he was driven out of Office by scoundrel Police officers.
This unpleasant incident is back in the national news again regrettably – with even more increased hullabaloo. A report has been issued by the police’s Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPPC) – but was even more controversial, as the Deputy Chairwomen seemed to go against the formal report, and implied that the said implicated Police Federation three officers should face ‘disciplinary action’! They had been accused of deliberate misrepresentation & falsely reporting a meeting they had had with Andrew Mitchell at his office, which he had surreptitiously recorded – he released a transcript of some of the tape (one assumes the bit that suited his own purpose?), but NOT the full tape. Our PM David Cameron (his boss) has publically sided with Andrew Mitchell & his supportive friends.
This saga has some legs – it has quite some way to run unfortunately! Why should the rest of us actually care?
Well, what was a minute or so’s confrontation has cost us investigatory expenditure of some quarter of a million pounds so far – we wouldn’t spend that on a lout’s episode, so why on a loutish MP? And the costs will increase extraordinarily even further, don’t you worry.
Well, what also about the effort and resources spent on this ridiculous event? Hundreds of hours of police time, including many senior officers, as well as key public administrators. All at a time of austerity, severe Police community budget slashing, and Police force manpower cuts. Who the bloody hell is out there catching the criminals and the terrorists while all this is going on?
Well, what does this tell us about our Police Force and our investigatory procedures? This whole operation on a nothing event has taken an eye watering 13 months SO FAR. How the heck can we expect criminals to be brought to justice promptly if that is the way things work here? The biggest worry is that this has been such a drawn out and expensive affaire (called ‘Operation Alice’ involving dozens of officers & a Deputy Assistant Commissioner) because the elite and powerful are involved; justice in Britain isn’t supposed to be like that – everyone should be treated the same irrespective of position & social standing!
The honesty and sincerity of our Police, a long standing bastion of our society and way of life, is being questioned at the highest level of our Government (on behalf of an ill-mannered & uncouth MP) – we are all in the mire if these allegations are substantiated.
The Andrew Mitchell camp is promoting a cause that says we can’t now trust our Police. About seventy percent of the public DO TRUST the Police and the critical lot are trying to undermine that trust to protect the image of an oaf. We are all aware that there have been incidents in the history of the Police where there has been misconduct by officers in individual incidents; but we accept that there are a few bad apples in any big organisation and rogue police behaving badly are a minute minority, are despised by the rest of the force, and their actions are abhorred – they are got ridden of as quickly as possible.
Three senior Police Chief Constables (West Mercia, Warwickshire and West Midlands) involved in the IPCC report & decision that Police officers would not face disciplinary action, have been accused of being involved in a cover-up of the cover-up and secretly changing the Report conclusions – a staggering allegation by a bigoted elite. The rules, culture, honesty, openness, and transparency of our renowned and world respected Police force, are under serious assault, and such an attack needs to be repelled robustly and quickly. Those involved in any wrong doing however during the subsequent events of this incident need to be brought to justice immediately (a year’s delay is a sad joke!).
[SO PERHAPS ALL YOU IN THE UK OUGHT TO BE A BIT CONCERNED – and perhaps tell your MP what you think of what is going on (that is why they are there!]
</Postscript: Andrew Mitchell is a 57 year old Conservative MP for Sutton Coldfield (previously for Gedling ten years until 1997) and is an ex shadow Minister. After the 2010 election he became Secretary of State for International Development, before becoming Chief Government Whip last year. He is the son of a former Conservative MP and junior minister.He is the son of a former Conservative MP and junior minister, and they served in the Commons at the same time.