Ted Obvious writes from London: Imagine, for argument’s sake, a group of Tory supporting cops bringing down a Labour politician. You know, fabricating evidence against him and giving the Tories the ammunition to push him out of his job. Imagine what an uproar it would cause, with the likes of the BBC and the Guardian screaming about a ‘right-wing conspiracy’ for weeks and months, demanding that a public inquiry takes place and so on. But when it came to a Tory cabinet minister, Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell, it was deemed perfectly acceptable that he should have been forced to resign on the basis of some pretty flimsy evidence provided by the police. Cops even leaked the false information to the newspapers and Labour and their supporters did the rest, bringing Mr Mitchell down. All in the best possible taste with democracy triumphing.
Now I don’t really have any opinion on Mr Mitchell as a person. I know that he was in charge of overseas aid, a pointless but very costly exercise supposedly to influence developing countries by bribing their political rulers; so it sort of tells me that he must have a slightly distorted judgement of what constitutes common sense. And I also know that prime ministers do not appoint pussycats to run the Whip’s office in parliament, which would imply that Mr Mitchell is a tough cookie and probably doesn’t choose his words carefully. But I was mighty suspicious when that ‘plebgate’ row erupted, with the cops who guard 10 Downing Street accusing him of calling them ‘f..king plebs’ and ‘morons’, with these allegations speedily finding their way to the pages of The Sun newspaper. (By the way, it was very strange for all those sensitive types, who bang on about the need to stop papers infringing on people’s privacy, staying quiet about cops on special duty leaking information to the media.)
Anyway, now it transpires that the cops made up the allegations against Mr Mitchell, or at least that is the way it looks. One of them, who was on duty that day, wrote the now infamous log accusing the now former Tory Chief Whip of swearing at him and his comrades and calling them ‘plebs,’ even though the CCTV camera footage did not register any verbal confrontation. Another cop who was off duty on that day pretended to be an angry member of the general public who had witnessed the ‘ugly scene’ and simply had to alert the authorities about it.
Scotland Yard is now investigating this conspiracy and its bosses promise to get to the bottom of things, whatever it takes: even though an innocent man has been hounded out of office with the Labour party launching a campaign against the Tories accusing them of being toffs who hate ordinary people. As if they themselves are keen defenders of the rights of the working man and woman and don’t like to bask in luxury and consider themselves to be important and even irreplaceable. The whole campaign rested on that word ‘pleb’ as it implied that Mr Mitchell had no regard for the brave cops who were ready to sacrifice their lives to protect the government from any danger. (Incidentally, the cop who filed the log looks seriously overweight and it is hard to imagine how he would be able to respond quickly to any threat.)
And now Labour is pretending that it supports the investigation and is happy to set the record straight. Even though if it is proven that the whole thing was a set-up it would implicate Labour as well simply because the cops were obviously their supporters and knew what they doing.
Some Christmas spirit, eh?