Police and Thieves

p-and-t_crop You recognise the image, no doubt. And before I go any further I should say that both the image and the title are unfair. But they came irresistibly to my mind anyway.

The context is a link and comment I recently posted to facebook, viz:

Andrew Mitchell: the ‘toxic’ smears aimed at destroying my party and me [Torygraph]

Having the police federation forcing the Tory whip to resign was appalling (I don’t much like our politicians, but I’m absolutely opposed to the police getting to choose those they like). But at least there is starting to be some comeback http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9763005/Andrew-Mitchell-the-toxic-smears-aimed-at-destroying-my-party-and-me.html (I’d rather have quoted the Beeb but their website is still pussy-footing around on this).

That post wasn’t… ermm… universally popular, though several people agreed with me, one from the police. I think some people are so blinded by their dislike-verging-on-hatred of the Tory party that they can’t see the problem in the police conduct, or in the police federation’s campaign against Andrew Mitchell. Of course, he’s a (Tory) chief whip so he can’t complain about a bit of political rough and tumble. And indeed, thinking and looking back on this, I can see far more blame attaches to Cameron that I’d previously thought: in that Cameron’s clear duty was to stand up against the PF’s campaign, and he funked it (I see the Graun is pushing this line. They are anti-Cameron of course, but that doesn’t make the line wrong). But the principal blame, of course, attaches to the PF.

One good result of all this is a healthy rift between the Tories and the police, who have been too close for too long.


  1. #1 guthrie

    Don’t worry, the politically aware police realised the Tories were bad last year. What with the Sheehy mark 2, the cuts in pay and conditions and a lack of disregard of the tories for the police, people realised they were no longer interested in them as anything other than something to be privatised.

    Andrew Mitchell is merely the figurehead – it seems an unfortunate thing, but the politicians and media encourage things to be taken personally, focusing upon specific individuals, rather than the (junk) policy itself.

  2. #2 Hengist McStone
    Denham just inside the M25

    Why hasn’t Scotland Yard raided the Police Federation yet?

  3. #3 Alf

    A mess of conflicting claims and counter-claims, as yet unresolved. Mitchell hasn’t helped himself by changing his story with the weather.

    [No, he hasn’t [later clarification: he hasn’t changed his story, I mean] -W]

    Honesty is the key issue, and it certainly hasn’t been firmly established who has been telling porkies, although both sides seem to be at odds with the CCTV evidence.

    [AFAIK it conflicts only with the police version. You’re very vague though – what do you see that conflicts with Mitchell’s? -W]

    Were the PF out of line? Difficult to say as they are a kind of trade union amongst other things. It is their job to speak up for their members and I don’t know of any reason why they cannot express an opinion about Mitchell’s suitability for office. Nobody is obliged to listen to them.

    [Don’t give me that junk. They ran a deliberate campaign to hound a chief whip out of office. That isn’t “express[ing] an opinion” -W]

    Mitchell himself is an enigma. An abrasive character with a sharp tongue on the one hand, yet apparently very effective in office. His work in Rwanda appears to have been quite impressive, not at all what you’d expect from a cardboard cut-out Tory.

    This business should be nothing more than a workplace spat, but unfortunately the press is involved and the PF have reason to take shots at the government.

    Cameron has done what he had to and will probably have Mitchell back when the heat is off. Hopefully Mitchell has learned to restrain his mouth.

  4. #4 J Bowers

    There’s nothing for Mitchell to be happy about. It was readily accepted by most that he did say “pleb”. Legally, he still got away with verbal abuse which would have put most plebs in the clink for the night or even longer.

    [Are you sure? I’m reasonably sure that you can’t be done for abusing the police, at least mildly -W]

    But all that said,… How the Plebgate footage doesn’t show what Mitchell & C4 claim

  5. #5 J Bowers

    Causing harassment, alarm or distress, Section 5 Public Order Act 1986. People get arrested for it when they use offensive language (like the F word) when being questioned by a police officer, even when not specifically aimed at them, but the CPS has to prove in court that the officers were actually offended for an actual conviction to happen. The Telegraph ran a headline saying it’s not illegal to swear at a police officer, but they’re wrong. It’s illegal to do it at anyone. Passersby in Whitehall could have made a complaint.

    [I thought that might be what you meant, but I think you’re wrong. Recent case law: because the police can be expected to be inured, swearing at them cannot be expected to cause alarm or distress, or harassment -W]

  6. #6 J Bowers

    If we’re thinking of the same case (stop and search) the judge didn’t rule out police being able to make a complaint if they’re offended. That was what the Telegraph missed out. The CPS can still make a case if an officer says they were caused harassment, alarm or distress. The judge just clarified the law a bit more.

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