Thursday 27 September 2012


Finally, after waiting most of my life, a political scandal involving a gate. 

The gate is the one at Downing St, through which the Government Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell  was not allowed to wheel his bicycle. Prompting the Minister to say, ' Do you know who I am?' and 'You have not heard the last of this' (this prediction was true as it has been on the front page of the English papers for a week). He also used a volley of swear words and allegedly the word  'plebs'. This last word might, for some reason, end his career.

The Daily Telegraph headline:

 ‎"Mitchell looked Cameron in the eye and vowed he did not say 'plebs' " 

Why is 'plebs' wrong and not f-k? I thought the police were plebs, no? 

plebs [plɛbz]n1. (functioning as plural) the common people; the masses

I can only think that snobbery is becoming a thought crime, like every other form of discrimination in the brave new world of legally enforceable tolerance. It seems only acceptable to be rude about the upper classes (whom the newspapers call 'toffs'),  
conservatives, Catholics and fat people. Although, confusingly, it is all right to be rude about the lower classes if you designate them 'chavs'. 

It is usually people on the Left who despise the lower orders. Police are not working class - they are lower middle - and Mitchell meant they were jacks in office I think - which these ones probably were. On the other hand, people who are rude to small people - as Gordon Brown was - are ghastly.

Perhaps rudeness to ones inferiors  and being an arrogant jerk are sacking matters nowadays. What would Lord Curzon have thought? In any case, Mitchell is, to coin a phrase, a four letter man. The police around Parliament when I worked there were the loveliest Dixon of Dock Green or Ealing comedy types, but even the police, or especially the police, are no longer as deferential as they used to be. They show an alarming tendency to throw their weight around, as is natural in an increasingly authoritarian society, and to forget their station (natural in an officially classless one). Conclusion: I feel little sympathy for minister or policeman. Why did this reach the newspapers anyway?

Brendan O'Neil though a Trotskyite is as usual close to the truth in his blog post on Gategate.

By the way, it seems to me, judging from reading the papers far away in Romania, that Labour ministers made four letter words commonplace in government. 

They also lived with girlfriends or boyfriends without marrying them, whereas Tories conducted adulterous secret affairs but did not openly co-habit with their squeezes, which is the new word for concubines. I suppose it is called moving with the times but I regret both changes.


  1. A friend of mine who writes from Toronto has said for ages that the "____gate" thing is so tedious it needs to be banned and all political scandals should from now on be called "Something-aquiddick," an idea I'm trying to share as far and wide as possible.

  2. I see you like John Evelyn and Sir.Thomas Browne. I like Browne more than Evelyn and love John Aubrey and Robert Burton. Are you living in Rome?