Friday, 21 December 2012

No Decorum in the Forum 3: Plebgate

And so the furore continues about who said what to whom, how much Latin was used and who, precisely, cares.

Ex-Tory Whip Andrew Mitchell claimed that he did NOT direct the word 'Pleb' at a serving police officer guarding the gates to Downing Street now may be actually prove to have some substance. As a result, many Conservative MPs are now calling for his reinstatement and, now hang on a minute. This is a politician who freely admits that he swore (using all manner of apparently acceptable earthy Anglo Saxon expletives) at two serving police officers for the heinous crime of preventing him from cycling through a non-cycling gateway (and therefore causing him the agony of having to walk with his bike, thus extending his journey by all of 13 seconds). 

For the embarrassment of having to so publicly conform to regulations, Mitchell seemed to think it was fine to direct all manner of expletives at the police.

Swearing at a police officer is an arrestable offence (at least for those not in the Conservative party), but the press seems to have been most concerned about the apparent use by Mitchell of the word 'Pleb', a Latin word for the great unwashed, which Mitchell has always denied having used (apparently he thinks he used 'a milder' version of the, I don't know either). Curiously, the use of Latin in this context does not, at least to me, to be the main concern. No one, least of all Mitchell himself, seems to dispute that he overreacted and that offensive swear words were used, possibly with some force, at serving police officers. Now I'm sure the officers in concern were thick skinned grown-ups who are sadly used to being called far worse, but a serving politician should know better, should lead by example and should not flaunt regulations (then default to foul-mouth mode when caught out).

Plebgate (possibly the only time that the word 'gate' has been applied to a scandal where a real gate has formed the focus of attention) has now become an argument about who said what to whom, who was there and whether a Latin word that some may find abusive (but most probably won't) was or was not said. Trouble is, the press (and indeed all the Tory MPs who are now lining up to support Mitchell) seem to be saying now that "it's OK to swear at the police; it's ok to flaunt the law if you think you own the country". 

"...just don't use Latin when you do.."   

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