As Tone’s former spinmeister Alastair Campbell has recalled this morning, his then boss had one group of public servants spot on: “if there is one group of people you don’t want offside during an election, it’s the cops”. Dead right too, and you’d best not have them offside at any other time either, unless you want the public mood to pitch you into, well, an unwanted election campaign.
Sadly for Young Dave and his jolly good chaps, this advice does not appear to have crossed the floor of the Commons, nor indeed to have infiltrated local Government elsewhere in the capital. Thus it was no surprise at all to see that last night Brian Coleman, who lost his London Assembly seat in May to the great relief of the citizens of Barnet who would rather he had gone earlier, had been nicked for assault.
Coleman is accused of the common assault of a cafe owner who had latterly made his tenure uncomfortable, following his use of a loading bay as a parking space and her subsequent complaint. He remains a member of the Tory Party, as does Government chief whip Andrew Mitchell, who yesterday evening indulged in the most unfortunate display of bad language towards the Met’s finest.
Mitchell should not have been surprised that his outburst, after not having the gates at the end of Downing Street opened on his order, was reported word for word in the Super Soaraway Currant Bun: insult the rozzers and you get fast tracked either to the Daily Mail or the Sun in short order. These papers are the established and receptive conduits for disgruntled officers.
So what did he say? Oh dear. “Open this gate, I’m the Chief Whip. I’m telling you — I’m the Chief Whip and I’m coming through these gates ... Best you learn your f***ing place. You don’t run this f***ing government. You’re f***ing plebs”. Just to make sure nobody misunderstood him, he also labelled the officers concerned “morons”. Thus the path to the Sun news desk was assured.
Not only was this the kind of thing for which London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has said should be grounds for arrest, it also comes less than two days after two policewomen were shot dead in the Mancheser suburb of Mottram. The Telegraph’s Iain Martin has rightly pointed out that Mitchell’s tenure at the Whip’s Office may not survive beyond the weekend.
And, as Big Al found out after a visit to the Paralympics, it isn’t just Coleman and Mitchell: those Met officers who have had to deal with Young Dave have not reacted well to the Cameron arrogance. As with so much that is less than pleasant about today’s Tory Party, it comes from the top. The self proclaimed “heir to Blair” seems unable to take on one of his most basic lessons.
Which will only reinforce the “arrogant posh boys” impression. Bad move, chaps.
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