I’ve avoided commenting on Andrew Mitchell’s problems with police officers and gates because, damn it, the whole affair has been saturated in so much stupidity that it scarcely seemed to warrant further examination. But James Kirkup has pushed me over the edge. He asks if David Cameron “trusts the word of the police who guard his house”. Break. Give. Me. A.
Never fear, however, because the indomitable lobby is on the scent and determined to pursue the Prime Minister on this, even to the ends of the earth itself:
Sadly, I can’t tell you the answer, because the PM’s not saying; ministers are also being told by No 10 not to answer questions on all this. You can be assured that I and other journalists travelling with Mr Cameron this week will be using all our winsome charms to get him to open up on the issue.
Watch this space.
I hold no brief for Andrew Mitchell. If he ain’t a Class-A Shit he gives a fine impression of being one. Nevertheless, though he is not flattered by this pico-scandal nor is anyone else. Not the press – in high dudgeon and therefore looking ridiculous – nor the police either who, laughably, appear to consider this, like, the worst thing evah.
Mr Mitchell should not have said what he is alleged to have said (assuming he did in fact say what he has denied saying). He seems a boor and a twit. But if that disqualifies him from office then, blimey, the government benches are going to be pretty empty. Nor does Mr Mitchell’s behaviour tell us anything about the character of this government.
As for the police, well the sensible response would have been to ask Mr Mitchell to reflect – in silence – upon his words for a moment and consider whether he wished to withdraw them. Then he could get back on his bike and no more need be said on the matter. Do you really wish to proceed in this fashion, sir? should have sufficed.
When the police complain – often reasonably – of the amount of paperwork they file they might also pause to wonder how much of it is really necessary and how much of it is produced by a time-sapping lack of common-sense that could easily be avoided by a less literal-minded, bureaucratic approach to policing.
People lose their temper and act in foolish ways. Even cabinet ministers. Big deal. Move on.
And, anyway, the best thing that could – but won’t – come of this nonsense would be the removal of the Downing Street gates. Tear down these gates, Mr Cameron.