Plebs! September 25, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in The Left.
There’s so much to find fascinating about the Mitchell/Plebs kerfuflle. There’s Andrew Mitchell, high powered, albeit arguably a back room Tory, who as Chief Whip on his way out of 10 Downing Street is involved in an altercation with the police. Was the term ‘plebs’ used? As noted in the Guardian:
The Sun reported Mitchell as saying: “Best you learn your fucking place. You don’t run this fucking government. You’re fucking plebs.” The newspaper also reported a witness as saying that Mitchell had described police as “morons”.
To paraphrase George Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service ‘the other guys would never have done that’. And while it’s a small thing – particularly when we gaze at this through the prism of neo-liberalism, it does suggest intriguing class assumptions. It’s not so much the irritation, Gordon Brown was no slouch in that department – famously once stabbing the back of the seat in front of him in a car with his pen and given to egregious rages, so much as the tone, the sense of intrinsic class superiority.
Even if we remove the term ‘plebs’ from the discussion consider the following:
The paper says that Mitchell admitted muttering in earshot of the police: “You guys are supposed to fucking help us.”
That too is replete with significations, hierarchical (they should know their place, which is supportive), relationship wise (the police are supposed to help the Tories/and or politicians) and so on.
As is ‘Best you learn your fucking place.’
Small wonder, as the Guardian reported that Mitchell now disputes the official police report – which implicitly means he’s saying they’re lying. The police – none too pleased with swinging cuts are no doubt happy to make hay. But they’d be entitled to a degree of anger over that raft of assumptions built into the tenor of Mitchell’s words – plebs, or not. This could run and run.
It’s great defining stuff. One wonders will it figure in a Miliband speech coming shortly to a conference not that far from us? Or is it a bit combustible for that and therefore will be left to a second stringer. Either way for a government that already has a problem in regard to the perception that it’s crammed to the gills with toffs (and by the way the LD element, Clegg in particular, doesn’t detract from that impression) this is another brick in a wall that it would rather not see built.
And a last thought on the matter. Also from the Guardian:
Someone swearing at the police (or, indeed, just swearing loudly and repeatedly at anyone) can be arrested under section 5 of the 1986 Public Order Act for causing harassment, alarm or distress through ”threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour. They can also be arrested under the common law offence of breach of the peace.
Addendum; and so the police log has been posted this morning. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.