Double standards and Andrew Mitchell
Anyone who keeps up with the news can’t have failed to notice the unveiling drama that is ‘pleb-gate’. The supposed torrent of abuse that chief whip Andrew Mitchell hurled towards a member of the police has captured the attention of the nation. The focus has been, predominantly, on the alleged use of the word ‘pleb’. This, though, is not the biggest issue that this case has brought up; to my mind that is the issue of double standards.
It should have been a pretty simple series of events; a man shouts out a highly offensive string of swear words at a police officer, the law states that he is to be arrested, likely to spend a night in the cells, and face a fine of up to £1000. This, apparently, is not the way things work when the man in question is the Conservative chief whip. Here begins the story that is the epitome of double standards; the party front bench have defended the man, the back-benchers only questioning his authority, and as for the police; they’ve asked for his resignation and a wage docking, but what about launching actual criminal proceedings?
There has been no suggestion (at least not officially) that he be escorted into the back of a police car like our average ‘yobbo’ and face the full force of the law. In fact, the whole escapade has been focussed on one issue; whether he used the ‘pleb’, but I have to ask whether this is the real issue. Surely the most important issue isn’t whether he did use such a derogatory word, or whether, in fact, his standing in the party should be affected, but, the double standard that has emerged and whether we should accept this. This case acts, more, as an example of the issue pervasive in our society; the fact that those at the top don’t have to play by the same rules as the rest of us, and those that do, don’t suffer the same consequences as everyone else.
The Conservative party has gone out of its way to be seen as the all inclusive party; with talk of pulling together and other such rhetoric, yet they have taken no action against a man who broke the law, and why? If you ask my opinion it is because he is one of their own; the rich inner circle. This story doesn’t highlight the Conservatives ‘rich man’ attitude because of one man and one word, but because of the actions and attitudes of the whole party in reacting t the illegal actions of one of their own.
So what can the Conservative party do to prove that they aren’t elitist, and respect the law? They need to encourage the police to launch an official investigation into what occurred; Mr. Mitchell should be questioned, in a police interview room, like any other suspected criminal. CCTV footage, if it exists, should be checked and, if necessary, charges brought against Mr. Mitchell, and the maximum fine levied. The Conservative party and Downing Street should, of course, cooperate to the fullest extent of the law and Mr. Mitchell should accept his punishment with the grace he would expect any other person who yells at a police officer to. What the party or is constituents decide to do with him afterwards is entirely their decision.
Politicians and, to the same extent, the rich and famous, have played fast and loose with their influence for too long, and we have to let them know we will not accept such double standards. This must be seen for the issue that it is, not about an inappropriate word, but about an issue that runs through our society and politics. We must pursue this issue vigorously and make sure that Mr. Mitchell faces the full extent of the law like anyone else would be expected to.