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Not a fair cop
December 18, 2012 5:05 PM   Subscribe

Andrew Mitchell, the Conservative Party's former Chief Whip, resigned his position last September after he allegedly called police officers "f–cking plebs", [previously] although he has consistently denied this. New video evidence indicates that the leaked police logs of the incident were false and that a serving police officer may have been involved in a conspiracy to unseat a Cabinet Minister.

The incident reportedly came to Downing Street's attention via an email sent to Mr Mitchell's deputy John Randall who "was understood to have had a strained relationship with Mitchell". The "false, although extremely convincing" email from one of Mr Randall's constituents, whom we now know to be a serving police officer, said that
"I was with my nephew and … hoping to catch a glance of a famous politician. Other tourists standing with us were also shocked and some were even inadvertently filming the incident …

"I, having a keen interest in politics and the Conservative party, knew it was Andrew Mitchell, MP for Sutton Coldfield. Imagine to our horror when we heard Mr Mitchell shout very loudly at the police officers guarding [blanked out by Channel 4] our country. He just continued to shout obscenities at the poor police officers."
To make matters worse for the police, their alleged witness has now recanted. A "police constable with the diplomatic protection group has been arrested on suspicion of misconduct in a public office", but the Metropolitan Police Commissioner says that "there is more to this than meets the eye" and hopes that "when people hear the full story they will support what we've done." Meanwhile, the head of the Metropolitan Police Federation, John Tully, says that his federation "unequivocally and categorically refutes any allegation that it was part of a conspiracy to unseat a cabinet minister."
posted by Joe in Australia (52 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Standing by for the swarm of "false but true" protesting.
posted by michaelh at 5:08 PM on December 18, 2012


unequivocally and categorically refutes any allegation that it was part of a conspiracy to unseat a cabinet minister

It was really a conspiracy to rule the world. Unseating the minister was just lagniappe.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:10 PM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's a shock to see this story come back, deeper and weirder than before. My main thoughts are on why the police would do this and how high up was this organized. I can throw things out, but I don't know.
posted by Jehan at 5:14 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lagniappe: The thirteenth donut.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:14 PM on December 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ok, so this episode of The Thick of It turns out to actually be a remake of House of Cards?
posted by Bwithh at 5:16 PM on December 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


This is one of those situations where the various meanings of the word "refutes" confuse me.
posted by koeselitz at 5:30 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


If there's any justice, he'll get his post back. And maybe people will be a little more reticent to convict people just for being Tory.
posted by Dasein at 5:30 PM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Dasein, it seemed plausible to me at the time. I mean, why would a couple of coppers make up a story about a senior MP? And there were allegedly witnesses to it, too. But it turns out that if you can make up a story, you can make up some witnesses too. The funny thing is, ubiquitous CCTV was supposed to be a blow to civil liberties. On more than a few occasions it has turned out to defend them, by refuting false accounts given by the police.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:12 PM on December 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Seems plausible to me still, Joe, in so far as we're left with Mitchell swearing at the two plod (and he later apologised), with a dispute over the actual wording but no-one seemingly denying that some sort of incident of that nature took place. This new info with the made-up witnesses was about making sure the story got traction and Mitchell faced consequences by moving it above he said/they said. Or have I missed something?
posted by Abiezer at 6:34 PM on December 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Abiezer, there is a world of difference between what Mitchell claims he said and the police claim he said.
posted by ssg at 6:54 PM on December 18, 2012


Yep, aware of that, what I'm saying is what's new is evidence of this conspiracy to get their version out and with the greatest traction - it remains plausible, if far from proven, that Mitchell did go over the top. So it's win-win for me.
He is an odious man even if all he said that day was a cheery good morning, so tough shit on being thrown under the bus, and now even Tories have to admit that the police fabricate evidence and leak like sieves when it suits. What's not to like?
posted by Abiezer at 7:00 PM on December 18, 2012 [15 favorites]


surely this is the key revelation here: "In an extraordinary twist to the story, which No 10 sources insisted was entirely coincidental, the police officer – the "witness" – emailed his account of the incident to his local MP John Randall, who was then Mitchell's deputy in the whips' office. Channel 4 said the police officer was also a constituent of Randall's.

Sources suggested that Randall, who had a strained relationship with Mitchell when he was appointed as his boss in September, had acted properly as an MP when he forwarded the email to No 10."

posted by Bwithh at 7:13 PM on December 18, 2012


The Met involved in corruption and coverup? I'm shocked. Shocked.
posted by Damienmce at 8:01 PM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]




This just gets odder the deeper they dig.
posted by arcticseal at 9:25 PM on December 18, 2012


The Met Chief has warned there us still more information is yet to come out (that is not favourable to Mitchell).

Mitchell is like the man who fell from the plane without a parachute. But wait, he's going to land right on a haystack! Oh no, there is a large pitchfork poking out of the top of the haystack!

to be continued..
posted by MuffinMan at 10:56 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Police Commissioner may well be telling the truth when he claims that he is sitting on material damaging to Mr Mitchell, but I think it's fascinating that while he can quickly lay his hands on a cabinet minister's black dossier and hint at its contents, he is strangely blind to some of his officers creating false documents and others (?) attempting to have that cabinet minister stitched up. One might well think that his role is to defend rotten coppers rather than uphold the law.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:31 AM on December 19, 2012


This dispute isn't about Mitchell shouting obscenities at the police officers. Mitchell himself admits that. This is about the word 'pleb' and to me is frankly irrelevant either way. That the Met are corrupt bastards? We knew this. That Mitchell is a cock who mistreated and abused public servants (again, I'm taking Mitchell's own word that he swore at the policeman here)? We knew this. So what the fuck is the big deal? Fire and investigate the lying officer, and keep Mitchell out of his post. This is all a distraction.
posted by Dysk at 12:37 AM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


(On the other hand, if a Met officer can kill Ian Tomlinson and lie about it, and face no real consequences other than some paid leave, it would seem radically disproportionate to give any consequences to the Met for merely lying about which particular insults an MP used.)
posted by Dysk at 12:58 AM on December 19, 2012


I'm arm-waving on the numbers but assume 1900 work hours per year and 128kbps for decent MP3 recordings = ~100GB/year/officer. Amazon S3 storage is approx 4p/GB/Month, assuming someone can do a similar price in the UK it works out at £4/officer/month to keep a rolling copy of their last year's recordings.

Even if we add an order of magnitude for waste and bureaucracy its surely getting to the point that every policeman's mic should be open all the time and recording.

I know that if I ever had any dealings with the police I'd want a full transcript to be available for later review. Perhaps I'm just hopelessly prejudiced but I really do think that recordings would help citizens and keep the police honest, more-so than strip citizens of any privacy or right to anonymity etc.
posted by samworm at 1:27 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


This dispute isn't about Mitchell shouting obscenities at the police officers. Mitchell himself admits that. This is about the word 'pleb' and to me is frankly irrelevant either way

It's not irrelevant for a Tory MP in 2012, the match-up between "pleb" and how a lot of people already think of the Conservative party was quite neat which was why the story got so much traction.
posted by atrazine at 1:45 AM on December 19, 2012


Personally, I find a representative from 'the party of law and order' shouting obscenities at the police at least as deliciously telling.
posted by Dysk at 1:48 AM on December 19, 2012


If there's any justice, he'll get his post back. And maybe people will be a little more reticent to convict people just for being Tory.

He did admit to saying 'fucking' while lambasting a policeman, which is a public order offence and enough to get some people thrown in prison.
posted by biffa at 2:09 AM on December 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


That Mitchell is a cock who mistreated and abused public servants (again, I'm taking Mitchell's own word that he swore at the policeman here)?

No. In the meeting with officers of the Police Federation in his constituency, Mitchell's account goes like this:
But I did say, under my breath but audibly, in frustration, "I thought you lot were supposed to fucking help us", and for that I apologies.
posted by Chuckles at 3:31 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


That was the context of the swearing, yes. He also admitted to being 'intemperate' with the police (his words). You can abuse someone without using the words 'fuck' or 'plebs'.
posted by Dysk at 4:14 AM on December 19, 2012


Dysk: This dispute isn't about Mitchell shouting obscenities at the police officers. Mitchell himself admits that.

Except you were wrong. Mitchell certainly didn't admit shouting, and his account is most likely accurate. Further to your spin on the story, intemperate is not equivalent to abuse.

There was no shouting, there was no abuse. I'm in Canada, I've no idea what kind of politician this guy is. On one hand, he was the Conservative Party Whip, on the other he bikes to work at Downing Street. Those self contradictory properties are way way outside my experiences. However, it is absolutely clear that there was a conspiracy to ruin this guys political career. Outrageous.
posted by Chuckles at 4:32 AM on December 19, 2012


You can abuse someone without using the words 'fuck' or 'plebs'.

He is an odious man even if all he said that day was a cheery good morning, so tough shit on being thrown under the bus

But it is just wrong to imagine that Mitchell would have lost his job if he hadn't been reported as using those words. You're free to believe he's unfit for that job regardless, of course, and thus hasn't been gravely wronged. But the issues raised by Crick's report go beyond his hurt feelings or thwarted career ambitions.
posted by oliverburkeman at 5:04 AM on December 19, 2012


I know he admits swearing, but does anyone here know if he admits saying 'know your fucking place'?

Because if he did say that, then to me that's the exact same sentiment as using the word 'pleb'. If he didn't then, yeah, galling as it is he should probably be reinstated.

In British media at the moment, Mitchell's most vocal supporter has been David Davis, who is one of the most odious tories in Parliament (though not to be confused with equally horrible David Davies, who said that most parent's wouldn't want a gay child).
posted by dumdidumdum at 5:41 AM on December 19, 2012


I´m always torn about David Davies. He lurches between taking a principled stand on something I completely agree with and saying things that are completely off the rails.
posted by pharm at 6:59 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


You're free to believe he's unfit for that job regardless, of course, and thus hasn't been gravely wronged.
This is basically it, as he's had what I should imagine is at worst a bit of a temporary setback in his reprehensible public life, so he's not much of a victim -- and thinking from another angle it shows Cameron's administration in a bad light either way again - if true then bad in the way it looked at the time etc; if not, weak enough to be panicked into dumping a wronged colleague to avoid a short burst of negative publicity.
As for the issues raised, of course this sort of police conspiracy is troubling, but as Damienmce pointed out with the link to the recent (watered-down) revelations of state collusion in the murder of Pat Finucane hardly new news if you've been paying attention.
posted by Abiezer at 7:28 AM on December 19, 2012


He did admit to saying 'fucking' while lambasting a policeman, which is a public order offence and enough to get some people thrown in prison.

WHAT? Using a particular word constitutes a public order offence? What the hell is wrong with Britain?
posted by Dasein at 8:32 AM on December 19, 2012


Here we go. At this point, it doesn't matter what the Tories do - They're hung by association. Never mind that they're economically identical in policy to the Labour party, as far as my facebook / twitter stream goes, they're the same old Tories, determined to herd the disabled onto the streets.

It doesn't matter where they stand on Gay Marriage, or abortion, or how willing they are to disenfranchise the hard conservative right of the party in order to do what is right. They're the same old champers loving posh-boy Tories, giving their friends jobs, smashing up the Bullingdon club and calling the middle classes plebs.

Labour politicians could literally get away with punching members of the public in their faces. Tory politicians can't be seen to be mildly irritated. Meanwhile, this insistence on calling out "Same Old Tories" at every tiny opportunity is leading to two things. A bitter, incompetent hyena led Labour party and the rise of UKIP. People seem to think it's funny that UKIP are stealing votes from a Tory party that's trying to appeal to the middle. They think it's funny that the Labour party are so bitterly incompetent. Frankly, it terrifies me.
posted by zoo at 8:58 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


So this is some new Tory party, working for the interests of the poor then? Really?

Unemployment when the tories came to power in 1979 - about or under a million
Unemployment with the tories in power in 1983 - about 4 million

Unemployment when the tories came to power in 2010 - about or under a million and a quarter
Unemployment with the tories in power currently - about 2.7 million

Redundancy notice period reduced from 90 days to 45 days

Plans to reduce or remove some workers rights.

Cut top rate of tax by 5%

Raised (Doubled!) lowest rate from 10% to 20%

Increased VAT from 17.5% to 20%

Failed to close tax loopholes allowing the rich to avoid tax.

Ditto for corporations.

Reduction of corporation tax (twice).

tories 1980s - massive sale of state assets to their rich friends
tories now - privitisation of schools and hospitals and other state assets.

tories then - there is no such thing as society
tories now - most people on the dole/sick are lazy scroungers who don't want to work.

Oxbridge domination of UK
posted by marienbad at 10:33 AM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


They're the same old champers loving posh-boy Tories, giving their friends jobs, smashing up the Bullingdon club and calling the middle classes plebs.

These things are true, but they're not the only reasons the Tories are accused of being the same old Tories, the majority of that lies with their economic policy which is rooted in screwing the poorest members of society while pushing more cash towards the wealthy and the banks. Stripping back already pared down benefits, making life financially impossible for many disabled people, castigating anyone without a job as a scrounger and parasite and forcing young people into massive debt or to work for Tesco gratis. HSBC? Took big to prosecute. Reform of the financial sector - not happening. Result of the Leveson enquiry? Cameron's preferred option is fuck all. Rich people? Have a 5% tax cut! Do I need to go on? So yeah, same old tories.

It is a problem that there is little in the way of an alternative, certainly we need one. However, I don't see how calling out the tories is the cause of Labour's problems, they stem from their poor record, lack of credible leadership and failure to offer an alternative to Osborne's economic or social policy, amongst other things.
posted by biffa at 10:38 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Those unemployment statistics are pretty bogus. Comparing the numbers in 1979 (end of the Labour Administration, and a pretty awful time for everyone) to the numbers 1/3 of the way through the Conservatives time in power is just weird statistics for the sake of statistics.

Redundancy notice period reduced from 90 days to 45 days
Good.

Cut top rate of tax by 5%
From what to what? This isn't some ideological issue where Labour tax at 83% and the Tories tax at 33%. It's a cut from the temporary Labour created rate of 50% to 45%. Not only would Labour have done the same, but it's not really putting huge amounts of money into the pockets of the wealthy.

Raised (Doubled!) lowest rate from 10% to 20%
Whilst increasing the level at which you start to pay tax.

Increased VAT from 17.5% to 20%
Unlike the previous administration who increased it from 15% to 17.5% To your mind - what's the correct level of VAT?

tories 1980s - massive sale of state assets to their rich friends
Arguably the largest and most damaging sale was the sale of houses to Council Tax tenants. Thank God Labour fixed that when they got into power. Thank God we're not in a situation where rampant house price inflation is screwing everyone.

The rest of your points are simple propaganda. "No such thing as society" wasn't the calling card to libertarianism people paint it as - It was a move against a class based society. A class based society Labour pretty much managed to reinstate. You can thank them for the Oxbridge power elite.

The Flat Screen curtain closed scroungers that everyone is so quick to deny the existence of do exist. (If they don't - I live in some weird side dimension). They exist because the whole social welfare system has been designed to discourage work and encourage lying. This isn't the fault of the idle poor. It's the fault of the union enforced bureaucracies at the heart of our social services system.


Which is all a round-a-bouts way of disagreeing with you. I know there's no convincing you that the Tories aren't evil & Machiavellian, but it frustrates me to see this conversation constantly painted in such crass partisan colours. There's things to be said about tax, about social care, about housing - but it strikes me that when the Left always start with the crudeness of "Same old Tories", that conversation can never be had.
posted by zoo at 11:37 AM on December 19, 2012


biffa: Do we really need an alternative? UKIP is an alternative, and one that is gathering steam as the Right decide that they can't vote for a party that likes the Gays. The BNP is an alternative, and it did alright when traditional Labour voters decided that they couldn't vote for a party that liked the Asians and the immigrants.

Or, when you say this, is "we need an alternative" just a reflection of a frustration at a lack of implementation of your non-mainstream views.
posted by zoo at 11:45 AM on December 19, 2012


In British media at the moment, Mitchell's most vocal supporter has been David Davis, who is one of the most odious tories in Parliament (though not to be confused with equally horrible David Davies, who said that most parent's wouldn't want a gay child).

David Davis? I mean, I wouldn't vote for him myself, but he's hardly one of the most odious Tories in Parliament.
posted by atrazine at 12:02 PM on December 19, 2012


That whole David Davies hates the gays thing really freaked me out actually. It put pay to his liberal image. Not cool Davies.
posted by zoo at 12:11 PM on December 19, 2012


Which is all a round-a-bouts way of disagreeing with you. I know there's no convincing you that the Tories aren't evil & Machiavellian, but it frustrates me to see this conversation constantly painted in such crass partisan colours. There's things to be said about tax, about social care, about housing - but it strikes me that when the Left always start with the crudeness of "Same old Tories", that conversation can never be had.
I'm actually friends with some local Conservative councillors, and they're quite decent chaps. They're also pretty good where it comes to local issues. I would vote for them locally too, unless there was some really good opposition. But I also try to keep up with national news, government policies, and read ConHome almost every day. And I can't deny that I'm only rarely pleased by what I see and hear. Even though some portraits of the Conservative party can be too crass and too partisan (and far too broad), they are broadly right. The party isn't fit for government and can't or won't govern for the whole country.
posted by Jehan at 12:13 PM on December 19, 2012


Cut top rate of tax by 5%
From what to what? This isn't some ideological issue where Labour tax at 83% and the Tories tax at 33%. It's a cut from the temporary Labour created rate of 50% to 45%.


Not ideological? Its a cut by a Conservative chancellor who is preaching that we are all in it together while taking from the poorest and giving to the wealthiest.

it's not really putting huge amounts of money into the pockets of the wealthy.

Then why do it? If its not for the money and - you say - not for the ideology, why do it?

Increased VAT from 17.5% to 20%
Unlike the previous administration who increased it from 15% to 17.5% To your mind - what's the correct level of VAT?


That was Lamont in 1994, despite a 1992 Tory manifesto commitment not to mess with VAT. Darling dropped it temporarily back to 15% as an economic stimulus in 2009 but it was made clear on its introduction that this was only temporary.

The Flat Screen curtain closed scroungers

You know that all the TVs on sale are flat screen now?

it strikes me that when the Left always start with the crudeness of "Same old Tories", that conversation can never be had.

I explained where this comes from above, their economic policies rooted in taking away from the poorer members to give to the rich, they are behaving just as they have in previous administrations and their policies will cause more suffering than can be assuaged by the bandage of a narrowly expanded right to gay marriage.

My desire for an alternative is for one that is not rooted in hate or fear (which rules out your alternatives) but which represents and protects the less well off, does not see massive corporate subisidies via a lax tax and legal system, free forced employment, etc, and where our public services are run for profit rather than to deliver good quality services as regards health, transport and utilities. I do not think that this is particularly far from the mainstream to be honest but that much of the debate in the UK, as globally, is dominated by the idea that the free market is always the best tool rather than simply the best tool in some markets and not so useful where metrics other than least cost need to be more important.
posted by biffa at 12:38 PM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


their economic policies rooted in taking away from the poorer members to give to the rich

But they aren't. This isn't some scheme where poor people are giving money to the rich. In the middle of next year - I'm going to be giving some £7,000 pounds to the tax man. That's on a good (not a great) wage. If I magically earn around the £50,000 mark - I'll be "investing" nearly 11 Grand in the country. At £150,000, I'll be paying out nearly £60,000 punds in tax.

Pretty much all of that'll go on social services, pensions & housing benefit.

I'd like to know at which point this is going to change and I end up being paid by the poor.
posted by zoo at 12:58 PM on December 19, 2012


Also there was an move from 17.5% to 15% to 17.5% in around 2008/2009. I'm personally not that bothered about VAT - I'm of the opinion that it's not as regressive (and may actually be progressive) as people make it out to be.
posted by zoo at 1:03 PM on December 19, 2012


My desire for an alternative is for one that is not rooted in hate or fear
Apart from class hatred I suppose.
posted by zoo at 1:05 PM on December 19, 2012


zoo, your argument that the Tories aren't evil and Machiavellian seems to be largely comprised of saying that Labour are evil and Machiavellian too. Which is true, but doesn't support the first clause at all.

Real-terms cut to unemployment benefits at a time when unemployment is at a high? Yeah, that's sensible. After all, those people could just get on a bus and get some jobs somewhere, right?

This isn't some scheme where poor people are giving money to the rich. In the middle of next year - I'm going to be giving some £7,000 pounds to the tax man. That's on a good (not a great) wage. If I magically earn around the £50,000 mark - I'll be "investing" nearly 11 Grand in the country. At £150,000, I'll be paying out nearly £60,000 punds in tax.

Pretty much all of that'll go on social services, pensions & housing benefit.


Pretty much all of that? Try about a third...
posted by Dysk at 1:08 PM on December 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also there was an move from 17.5% to 15% to 17.5% in around 2008/2009. I'm personally not that bothered about VAT - I'm of the opinion that it's not as regressive (and may actually be progressive) as people make it out to be.

As noted in my comment above.

Apart from class hatred I suppose.

Its funny how this only ever seems to cut one way. Screw the poor and they deserve it, criticise the rich and its class war. If anyone is running a class war in this country at the moment they are probably Eton graduates.
posted by biffa at 1:08 PM on December 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


And for the record, the Bullingdon Club isn't somewhere members go to smash things, its a club of people who go out and smash other people's things.
posted by biffa at 1:10 PM on December 19, 2012


Dysk: Yeah - Got my figures muddled. It's actually about 50% . Social Welfare costs about 220bn, and UK taxes raise about 480bn.

Not as high as I thought it was, but still the most expensive part of our budget.

And biffa - I kinda agree with you.
posted by zoo at 1:28 PM on December 19, 2012


The greatest share of "social protection" is pensions, which I'm sure you know anyway. I could swear that it is something like ten times the cost of unemployment benefits.
posted by Jehan at 1:47 PM on December 19, 2012


How are you getting 50% £220bn is roughly a third of the UK's ~£680bn spend. You can't arbitrarily decide that it's the social welfare budget that's being paid for by taxes, and say education and defence that aren't.

(And yes, pensions alone is more than all other welfare combined.)
posted by Dysk at 1:50 PM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Just less than £9bn on unemployment benefits for 2012 is about what's projected.)
posted by Dysk at 1:52 PM on December 19, 2012


Well, this is the first time I have been proved wrong by thinking the worst of a tory politician. Perhaps it proves the rule, eh?
posted by bystander at 3:08 AM on December 20, 2012


What is nice is seeing that the cosy relationship between the Tories and the Police is effectively over. Inspector Gadget's most recent blog entry (probably the best gauge of UK Police thinking imo, particularly the comments from other service offers) clearly shows that the party is over.

What is particularly heartening to me is that just before the ConDem govenment took power the comments from serving officers was resoundingly anti-Labour for various reasons. It's taken the threat of pension reform, reduced pay, privatisation and threats of severance should the Police Fed vote for Industrial Rights to basically sever the last strings between bobbies and the Conservative party and it's both amusing and depressing to see their way of thinking come around once the poop lands at their feet.

It has, unfortunately, resulted in an upsurge of UKIP support amongst the police which is depressing as hell since UKIP appears to be not a lot more than the BNP with a couple of A-Levels.
posted by longbaugh at 3:52 AM on December 20, 2012


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