There’s been a lot of talk and things written in the past few days about Tory chief whip
Andrew Mitchell. Amongst all the condemnation I suppose in the end we ought to grateful he
did as well as he did …
There’s an old story of President Truman addressing the genteel ladies flower arranging club
- throughout the talk he keeps stressing the need for plenty of manure in order to produce
Afterwards the good ladies approach Mrs Truman and say ” really would it be possible for
the President to use the word fertilizer ”
“No my dear “,replied Mrs Truman “it’s taken me 25 years to get him to say manure”
So perhaps those constables should feel relieved they were referred to as plebs and not riff-
raff or lower orders.
But let’s be fair we have a disagreement as to whether he said it – police say he did , he says
he didn’t. What to think eh ?
Let’s do a little thought experiment and imagine you say to a 100 policemen – right I want
you to get someone in trouble by falsely making out they called you a four letter word .
How many do we think would come up with word pleb ? lets makes it 1000 or 100000
policemen ..and well, I think we still get the same number – zero . it simply isn’t a word that
unbidden is going to pop into a coppers head .
And it all hangs on this one little word – Mitchell being bad tempered and arrogant is not why
this story has legs – it’s that one little word pleb that is the toxic one here. pleb for plebeian ,
low, vulgar , common etc
It plays oh so joyfully to the labour attack that what we have here is a load of arrogant
sneering flashman types . It’s the back to the Bullingdon club narrative so brilliantly mocked
by Evelyn Waugh in his description of the “Bollinger club” where they stone a fox to death
using empty champagne bottles . The only thing that could have served to make it better from
a labour point of view would have been be if Mitchell was a some sort of former public
school enthusiastic flayer of young boys buttocks -… and…happy days – there it is in all the
papers . ” Thrasher ” Mitchell, the literal scourge of Tudor House at Rugby school .
I’m tempted to say that they must have been popping the champagne corks at Labour HQ -
but as we’re in full stereotyping mode I’ll say cracking open the cans of warm bitter and mild.
An interesting aspect of stories like this is that when they happen either lots of people come
out to say actually this is entirely out of character and the man they know is a lovely humble
gracious man …or there’s lots of nodding heads ,” Yep that’s him to a tee”- in this case
neighbours , civil servants , parliamentary colleagues on both sides. workplace students,
journalists, former pupils ( thrashees ? ) have all been knocking each over in the rush to tell
their stories of what an utter shit he is .
It’s always most edifying when the mask slips – when people under pressure reveal
themselves in all their glory, we get to see the skull beneath the skin – It happened with
Prescott when he got thumped – he couldn’t help himself he reverted to his inner working
class bruiser and gave the bloke a crack back. And in this case.. the policeman ..a mere
underling doing his job , failing to kowtow and know his place .. we get to see the real
poisonous contempt of the arrogant over-privileged toff . He won’t get sacked of course,
though he may not be invited to any of Cameron’s country suppers anytime soon
As to should he be sacked ? ..Well no . He comes across as an arrogant bullying , evasive
nasty little piece of work — but he’s chief whip of the Tory party – so in this case he has the
ideal qualities for the job.
The intensely irritating thing for David Cameron and his chums at no 10, is that if they
want to get back in the next election they are going to need some of these plebs to vote for
them – they will have to put their X in the right box – or “sign their name” as they no doubt
sneeringly put it.