Andrew Mitchell was forced to resign as Chief Whip of the Conservative Party (responsible for the government getting legislation through), because trying to leave Downing Street on his bicycle he was less than civil to the police guarding the main gate when they asked him to walk through the side gate rather than them open the main gate for him. The altercation happened days after his appointment this September, but dragged on till his resignation in late October 2012.
The row centres on whether or not he used the word “Pleb”, which he denies, and whether his behaviour fell short of a person of his position. CCTV footage revealed today shows that there were less members of the public around then claimed, and that the altercation could only have been about 20 seconds not a harangue. Further that a police officer fabricated what happened, and posed as a member of the public when contacting the deputy chief whip about the above events by email, without ever being present at Downing Street.
Hopefully the inquiry into these things will hold people to account.
I was vocal on Facebook that Mitchell should resign, though not on the blog. The day before Plebgate two policewomen were deliberately ambushed at random as members of law enforcement in a gun and grenade attack in Manchester. We might not have children being massacred in schools for close on to a generation since Dunblane in 1996 due to stricter gun controls, but we do have gun violence still in the UK by organised and disorganised crime.
Public feeling in support of the police service was running high in the wake of a senseless violent attack on those that risk their lives in our defence. Further no less a Conservative figure than the Mayor of London Boris Johnson had supported making abusive language to a police officer a crime, as had others in the party.
Lastly though Andrew Mitchell claimed he did not say Pleb, and admitted he said as a parting shot “I thought you guys were supposed to be fucking helping us”. He did not give further details of what he did say.
As such, I felt he should go. His apology when it did come was not exactly heartfelt or full of contrivance given national feeling at the time. That he was a Tory had nothing to do with it. If he was Liberal, Labour I would have felt and said the same thing
With the latest revelations, people are trying to recreate history that Mitchell did not get a fair hearing. The thing is he did not help his cause by giving a full public account of what did happen, and the timing of Plebgate could not have been worse given events in the last 24 hours.
A lack of sentiment, courtesy and contrition did for him. Sometimes sorry is not enough.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog