Politicians are only too human and therefore fallible, just like us lesser mortals. However, one of the issues with democracy is that the electorate expect their leaders to lead by example. In that light, getting arsy with the police does not look good. Especially not when one is Chief Whip and one’s task is to instil order and discipline within the parliamentary party.
Although Mitchell is sticking to his story about what he did and didn’t say, apologies have been made and accepted, no inquiry is going on into the matter and no new facts have come to light, he did what according to many he should have done three weeks ago.
After more austerity that doesn’t seem to be working, and the reinforcement of an image of a party of out-of-touch millionaires who frankly don’t give a sh*t, thanks to the Chancellor who allegdly tried to wiggle his way into first class with a standard train ticket without paying for an upgrade, things sure ain’t smelling too funky for the Tories. Mitchell’s resignation might have been a desperate attempt to some sort of damage limitations, but is it truly to neutralise the ever-lingering Tory toff scent?
When plebgate unfolded itself Chief Whip faced pressure from several fronts to step down. The opposition wouldn’t let this opportunity go to illustrate that the party in government secretly advocates one rule for them and another for the little people. The police, very much at odds with the government over cuts and a general feeling of disrespect, were keen to see Mitchell’s head on a proverbial stick. What really might have been his downfall is that he lost the respect of Tory MPs. How is the parliamentary party to respect the authority of a Chief Whip, who is not displaying much discipline losing his cool when he is told off by police officers at Downing Street who are just doing their highly responsible job? The bravado of the man on his high horse had become too much of a nuisance and liability to the party.
Plebgate gives to show there is no better soap then politics. Yet, it somehow seems rather trivial as there are far more important matters that need addressing: Kids- and grown-ups- need jobs and affordable education. The financial sector and its watchdog need a proper spanking backed up by criminal investigations. Tax breaks for the wealthy are to be invested in the country instead of growing fat on a bank account in the Cayman Islands. There is a euro crisis that needs to be solved and is by no means served by Britain’s island mentality. The Arab Spring has turned rather ugly in some places and needs the support of the international community. Yet here we are analysing and arguing what a Tory toff on a bike said to a copper in a moment of rage.
The fabulous lift of mood we collectively experienced during the Olympics and Paralympics has worn off quite a while ago. The economic gloom remains and the weather is not doing us any favours either. We need a scape goat and high-horse riding Tory toff Mitchell is better than nothing. As economic prosperity is not expected to be served any time soon we continue to be frustrated with trivial and less trivial matters. As a short term relief from our frustration, it might be someone else’s head on a plate next. Perhaps sooner than one thinks.