People swear at the police when we tell them things they don’t want to hear. We might be informing them that they are under arrest. We might be asking them to move away from a paramedic who is trying to treat someone on the street. We might be asking them to ‘go home’ and stop causing a disturbance outside a nightclub, or we might be asking them to use a gate which is 6 ft away from another gate.
We don’t take this personally. People swear at teachers, nurses, paramedics, bus drivers, swimming pool attendants, soldiers and librarians. People also swear at each other and even at their children.
See The Jeremy Kyle Show for details.
We all agree on my team that if Mitchell had called any of us a “****ing pleb”, we would have warned him to desist, move on or get nicked. What happened next would have been dependent upon how he reacted to that warning. I probably would have been a little surprised at such abuse coming from a sober man in a suit, but it does happen.
For me, the whole thing is very simple indeed. Andrew Mitchell was probably not drunk when he abused SO6 protection officers in Downing Street. He says he was having “a long and extremely frustrating day”. Whatever pressures he is under bubbled up to the surface and his default position emerged. We all understand that. We have heard enough from Tom Winsor, Blair Gibbs and Nick Herbert to know what the current conservative default position on the police is.
Mitchell is just the first of them to come out and actually say it. He probably didn’t even aim it a police officers in particular. Just people who open gates and things. You know, voters.
David Mellor is trying to focus attention on the ‘bad day’ issue and suggested on LBC97.3 that police must share the blame for failing to open the gate. We see this all the time. We call it ‘displacement thinking’. A kind of louche version of the old ‘he was looking at my bird’ excuse.
Most people ‘get it’ but some do not understand what all the fuss is about.
The fuss is about the class nature of the insults and what that says about the current government, the fact that if the boot was on the other foot the police officer would be sacked, and the failure by Andrew Mitchell to tell us exactly what he did say. Sadly, but none-the-less undeniably, after Manchester, it is also about timing.
If The Sun had found this story days after the Hillsborough report they may not have gone with it. But the day after two unarmed female officers are murdered in the street? This is politics. Indeed, Mitchell is in charge of ‘politics’ on the conservative benches. If Labour had done this, he would have used it.
Andrew Mitchell should tell us exactly what he did say. If he has lied he should resign and if he insists the police are telling lies, he should call for an investigation. Until this is sorted out, I don’t want to hear any more about ‘zero tolerance’ over anti social behaviour from the conservatives or their PCC candidates.
The MET SMT have responded by launching an investigation in to how The Sun managed to get the story! No more needs to be said about that. Andrew Mitchell may not have called police plebs. We may never know.
And yes, there will be pleb-related products in the online store in time for Christmas. Profits will go to the police memorial trust.