Here's a little thought experiment for plebs like me and you.
Imagine you want to go through a vehicle gate with your cycle but two police officers have been instructed to not let people through. Instead of calmly finding another route or even politely asking if you could speak to their supervisor to clarify the situation, you launch into a foul mouthed, obscenity laden tirade at the police, threaten to use your influence to have them sacked and accuse them of being inferior in a particularly impolite manner.
You wouldn't be surprised to find yourself face down on the pavement with the aforementioned police officers kneeling on your back, reading you your rights and arresting you under the provisions of the 1986 Public Order Act or some such legislation.
This is exactly the kind of confrontation that happened between the Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell and two police officers that wouldn't let him through the vehicle access gate of Downing Street because he was on a bicycle. Mitchell was reported as saying:
"I'll have your fucking job for this." "Best you learn your fucking place." "Morons!" "This confrontation has since been deemed "Pleb-gate" by the mainstream media, as is their way, adding the "-gate" suffix to any political scandal, no matter how trivial or unrelated to the original Watergate scandal. An annoying linguistic device that would retrospectively render the original Watergate scandal, "Watergate-gate". I actually think the press missed a great opportunity when they decided on "Pleb-gate", after all this incident was the ideal opportunity for the press to discuss the first ever "Gate-gate".
You don't run this fucking government. You're fucking plebs."
When asked about whether he used the word "plebs" in his angry tirade against the police officers, Mitchell came out with this particularly evasive response: "I am very clear about what I said and what I didn't say. I want to make it absolutely clear that I did not use the words that have been attributed to me." Either he did use the words attributed to him and he is lying or he didn't and the police officers are lying in their official report on the incident. Whichever way, somebody probably deserves to lose their job. Either the policemen falsified their notebooks, (extreme misconduct, especially in the wake of the revelation of falsified police testimonies about the Hillsbrough disaster) or Mitchell is lying through his teeth in a desperate attempt to save his political career.
|Mitchell won't be forgetting Gate-gate in a hurry, thanks|
to countless images and commentaries like this.
Returning to the thought experiment for a moment: It is telling that had the person verbally abusing the police officers for simply doing their jobs been a "pleb" like you or me, the condemnation from the Tory ranks would have been universal. However in an attempt to protect one of their own, Tory and Lib-Dem politicians have been wheeling out the pitiful excuses. "He was tired", "he'd had a long and difficult day", "he challenges the way in which some words have been attributed to him" were amongst the feeblest of the excuses. Yet David Mellor went further and aired his absurd conspiracy theory that the police officers had invented the "pleb" comment in order to try and bring down the Tory government, an absurd accusation from a man that was part of the Thatcher government that used the police force so effectively as their own right-wing enforcement militia against the miners. Then colluded with them to cover up the culpability for the Hillsbrough disaster by smearing Liverpool supporters as drunken hooligans and attempting to besmirch the characters of the 96 deceased football fans by conducting alcohol tests on their corpses.
At your subsequent court appearance for breech of the peace and/or harassment, we know your word against the policemen's over exactly what was said would count for precisely fuck all in the eyes of the judge and jury, because we all know that police don't lie (unless they are making up insults to discredit their "social superiors" of course). Do you believe that you would be found innocent if your lawyer tried to mitigate by claiming "my client had had a long and difficult day"? I imagine that if you were lucky enough to get a fairly liberal judge (jury trials for offences like these having been abolished by Neo-Labour years ago), he might leniently give you community service and a suspended sentence, but you'd still be found guilty without a doubt. On the other hand, the chances of an establishment figure like Mitchell being found guilty are slim indeed.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the "Gate-gate" incident is the irony of Mitchell's parting shot at the police he had been insulting: