‘Gategate’: Nothing ever changes…
Not a week appears to go by without a new scandal of some kind emanating from our jawdroppingly incompetent and greedy government. The latest, as I am sure you will have noticed, involves the chief whip, Andrew Mitchell, who decided one evening last week that the rules of the road around Downing Street didn’t actually apply to him (well, obviously. He is chief whip after all. *sarcasm*).
Having had his collar felt by the Downing Street cops for cycling where he didn’t ought to cycle, Mitchell apparently let fly with a mouthful of abuse at the police, an altercation that was seemingly witnessed by members of the public too. Ironically, the incident was picked up by The Sun (regular readers will know how I feel about that rag), whose reporting of the story last Friday broke the scandal and forced a response from Mitchell.
Claiming that he was “very clear about what I said and what I didn’t say. And I want to make it absolutely clear that I did not use the words that have been attributed to me”, Mitchell issued an ‘apology’ on Monday which provoked a media debate as to who was actually telling the truth about the incident. In response to that, the Met police released the full log of the altercation, part of which I reproduce here:
Whilst on duty at *** tonight (Wed 19th Sept) on a 1400-2200 hrs between the hours of 1800-2000 I had to deal with a man claiming to be the chief whip and who I later confirmed to be such and a Mr Andrew Mitchell.
Mr Mitchell was speaking to PC ******** demanding exit through the main vehicle gate into Whitehall.
PC ******** explained to Mr Mitchell that the policy was for pedal cycles to use the side pedestrian exit. Mr Mitchell refused, stating he was the chief whip and he always used the main gates.
I explained to Mr Mitchell that the policy was to use the side pedestrian gates and that I was happy to open those for him, but that no officer present would be opening the main gates as this was the policy we were directed to follow.
Mr Mitchell refused. Repeatedly reiterating he was the chief whip. My exact explanation to Mr Mitchell was ‘I am more than happy to open the side pedestrian gate for you, sir, but it is policy that we are not to allow cycles through the main vehicle entrance.’
After several refusals Mr Mitchell got off his bike and walked to the pedestrian gate with me after I again offered to open that for him.
There were several members of public present as is the norm opposite the pedestrian gate and as we neared it, Mr Mitchell said: ‘Best you learn your f****** place … you don’t run this f****** government … You’re f****** plebs.’
The members of public looked visibly shocked and I was somewhat taken aback by the language used and the view expressed by a senior government official. I cannot say if this statement was aimed at me individually, or the officers present or the police service as a whole.
I warned Mr Mitchell that he should not swear, and if he continued to do so I would have no option but to arrest him under the Public Order Act, saying ‘Please don’t swear at me Sir. If you continue to I will have no option but to arrest you under the public order act’.
Mr Mitchell was then silent and left saying ‘you haven’t heard the last of this’ as he cycled off….
So, who do you believe? The Met police (whose own reputation is, admittedly, not brilliant) – or a pointless snob of a Tory politician with a massively inflated sense of his own importance? Because one of them is lying, and I think I know who. It all reminds me of a washed-up z-list pop star giving it all the ‘Do you know who I am?’ business in the queue for the VIP room of a tacky nightclub.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s statement on the matter was typically vague and meaningless, declaring that “what happened was wrong and shouldn’t have happened. It was deeply regrettable” (all sounds very familiar, doesn’t it?). However, and rather amusingly, arch-Tory idiot and Mayor of London, Boris Johnson has come out in support of the police officers involved, saying:
If I read the papers correctly, there was a proposal to arrest Mr Mitchell for what he said. That seems to be wholly commonsensical. The Public Order Act does allow for police officers’ discretion in this matter. They have obviously decided not to go ahead with it. But it shows the gravity of this offence
The irony of a senior MP being threatened with arrest under the Public Order Act for a sweary tantrum is not lost on me – but if any of us ‘plebs’ had the nerve to do the same, we’d have probably been nicked on the spot. But, y’know, Mitchell is a Tory and a member of the government, and those who remember the last lot of Tories in power and the constant stream of scandals associated with them will be very much aware that this sort of leopard can’t change its spots…