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Rights and Wrongs of Andrew Mitchell and Gategate

John Rentoul

Mitchell 300x168 Rights and Wrongs of Andrew Mitchell and GategateI wrote a comment at Independent Voices on Wednesday about Andrew Mitchell and Gategate which produced a delayed reaction from John McTernan, Tony Blair’s former political secretary, on Twitter on Friday. McTernan took an extreme version of position no 2 in my three-stage inconsistency, namely that Mitchell had only himself to blame.

Then Danny Finkelstein, the Times columnist, joined in. Followed by Jacqui Smith, Labour former Home Secretary, David Aaronovitch of The Times, Louise Mensch, Conservative former MP, Tim Luckhurst, Professor of Journalism, Robert Shrimsley of the Financial Times, and anyone else who happened to be passing.

It went on for a while. I reproduce the Twitter stream here.

(On the question of whether Mitchell swore “at” a police officer, I did particularly like Colin Forster’s quotation of Homer Simpson, to Lisa: “They’re not laughing at you; they’re laughing towards you.”)

@JohnRentoul Read yr piece. ‘Pleb’ a diversion. Cannot, honestly, see any circumstances where you would say ‘fucking’ at Downing Street cops

9:23 PM – 18 Oct 13
  1. @johnmcternan Agree, although “pleb” definitely makes it worse. But the apparent stitch-up is far more shocking.

  2. @JohnRentoul @johnmcternan The stitch-up is unforgivable. In the circumstances, swearing is entirely reasonable.

  3. @JohnRentoul No-one ever swears at No 10 cops. Mitchell admits he did. What stitch-up?

  4. .@TCHL @JohnRentoul Honestly? He swore when the gates weren’t opened? No stitch-up there.

  5. @johnmcternan @JohnRentoul There are three points 1. The swearing issue is monumentally irrelevant in the light of what we learned.

  6. @johnmcternan @JohnRentoul 2. Swearing in the presence of (not “at”) police is an apology issue not a resigning one and 3. Given the way…

  7. @johnmcternan @JohnRentoul things have turned out how do you know how provoking and unreasonable they were?

  8. @johnmcternan @JohnRentoul And also don’t be ridiculous re stitch up. You know full well that the pleb bit was the incendiary element not…

  9. @Dannythefink @johnmcternan @JohnRentoul There’s a difference between swearing at, and swearing in front of.

  10. @meratron @johnmcternan @JohnRentoul They didn’t charge him and their evidence wouldn’t stand up in court. This stuff about “oh, but he…

  11. @meratron @johnmcternan @JohnRentoul swore” is pathetic, desperate partisan nonsense which wildly misses the point, pretty much on purpose.

  12. / @Astroreaper @Dannythefink @johnmcternan And a third option, which I think is right, “swearing to”. Sentence addressed to “you”.

  13. @meratron @johnmcternan @JohnRentoul what is. The swearing, do me a favour. The notes and the CCTV not fitting, very troubling indeed.

  14. @JohnRentoul @Astroreaper @johnmcternan Whichever. This is a proper very concerning scandal and the swearing is irrelevant even if wrong.

  15. .@johnmcternan How can cops falsifyng records be a diversion? how do i decide if Mark Duggan had a gun when shot if cops fake evidence

  16. .@Dannythefink @JohnRentoul 1. A Cabinet Minister swearing at No 10 staff is not irrelevant. When has that happened before?

  17. .@Dannythefink @JohnRentoul 2. No. A Cabinet Minister swearing in this way at staff is a resigning offence.

  18. .@Dannythefink @JohnRentoul 3. Worked there for 3 years. Never any ‘provoking/unreasonable’ behaviour. You seriously arguing provocation?

  19. @johnmcternan I don’t believe you actually believe what you’re saying. It’s so ridiculous, I can only conclude you want attention

  20. .@Dannythefink @JohnRentoul ‘Pleb’ is the weakest point in the conspiracy theory. Why would cops think that wd be worse than swearing?

  21. .@smithjj62 @Dannythefink @JohnRentoul All staff. Absolute abuse of position. Bullying.

  22. @johnmcternan @Dannythefink @JohnRentoul I don’t disagree although that’s a lot of Cabinet Ministers resigning.

  23. @johnmcternan agnostic on the conspiracy theory – but pleb *did* turn out worse than swearing, in framing terms @Dannythefink @JohnRentoul

  24. @robertshrimsley Whether he said pleb or not, he swore at No 10 cops. Unacceptable for a Cabinet Minister. Beginning and end of.

  25. @jdav101 It’s really OK for a Cabinet Minister to bully and abuse No 10 staff? Really?

  26. @johnmcternan I doubt the cops would have reported it if Mitchell hadn’t told them “you haven’t heard the last of this”. He was an arse.

  27. @johnmcternan @JohnRentoul He did not swear at the Police he said an expletive in their company. You sir are just a Labour attack dog twit

  28. @johnmcternan @robertshrimsley The word ‘pleb’ was in the original leak (hence plebgate) and without it the toxic class element was missing.

  29. @smithjj62 @Dannythefink @JohnRentoul Context is all. This is straightforward abuse of position.

  30. @johnmcternan @alanmills405 @Dannythefink @JohnRentoul Because they hear swearing everyday. Pleb is undeniably derogatory in context.

  31. @DAaronovitch @robertshrimsley I do think the toxic class element is in the conceded comment too. Tone is all.

  32. @johnmcternan so any use of the word ‘fucking’ amounts to bullying? Do you live up to these high standards? Did Alistair Campbell?

  33. @johnmcternan @robertshrimsley Absurd thing is surely that the police didn’t need to stitch him up & yet still did.

  34. .@purpleline @JohnRentoul If I say ‘you’ and ‘fucking’ in the same sentence I am actually talking to you.

  35. @johnmcternan @robertshrimsley Matter of judgement, of course. But if the word ‘pleb’ WAS invented then the inventor shares mine not yours.

  36. .@jdav101 The whole exchange is toxic.

  37. .@DAaronovitch @robertshrimsley Occam’s Razor. The exchange as conceded is toxic. De haut en bas. We shall see about pleb.

  38. @johnmcternan Quite. Losing temper one thing. Pulling rank and threatening staff utterly revolting.

  39. @johnmcternan @alanmills405 @Dannythefink @JohnRentoul CPS used to say “no” S5 Pub Ord if swearing at police, as officers shld be used to it

  40. @johnmcternan @robertshrimsley Not sure it’s oikery as opposed to bad temper. But in any case even u-class twits deserve proper treatment.

  41. @Dannythefink @FriseSally @JohnRentoul @Astroreaper @johnmcternan what’s particularly worrying is that all the police officers involved, (1)

  42. @Dannythefink @FriseSally @JohnRentoul @Astroreaper @johnmcternan both in the original incident + the internal police review procedure, (2)

  43. @Dannythefink @FriseSally @JohnRentoul @Astroreaper @johnmcternan are still able to give evidence under oath in court as police officers (3)

  44. .@johnmcternan @smithjj62 @dannythefink @johnrentoul don’t recall you calling on Gordon Brown to resign…

  45. .@OldRolyBirkinQC @alanmills405 @Dannythefink @JohnRentoul This isn’t about Public Order it’s about appropriate behaviour.

  46. @johnmcternan @JohnRentoul He didn’t say it ‘at’ but in front of, and conspiring to fit up a minister is not a diversion, it’s a crime

  47. @johnmcternan @Dannythefink @JohnRentoul He did not swear at them, and you are libeling him by saying he did. He swore in front of them.

  48. @DAaronovitch @robertshrimsley Sure. But intrigued that Mitchell-ards are content that what has been admitted is acceptable.

  49. @johnmcternan @JohnRentoul well I can’t recall if you were there or in Australia but he absolutely wouldn’t have had to go without pleb.

  50. @wallaceme @johnmcternan @smithjj62 @Dannythefink @JohnRentoul of all the stuff MPs get up to and youre most concerned about a naughty word?

  51. @johnmcternan @OldRolyBirkinQC @Dannythefink @JohnRentoul He swore in front of police and not at them. Stop saying he swore at them.

  52. @johnmcternan @alanmills405 @Dannythefink @JohnRentoul …exactly! That’s why word “Pleb” is treated differently by Police.

  53. @johnmcternan @Dannythefink @JohnRentoul are you seriously not, given what happened with the Police Federation’s lies caught on tape?

  54. @LouiseMensch @JohnRentoul An ‘altercation’ is with someone, not in their presence.

  55. @Dannythefink @johnmcternan @JohnRentoul if you were a nurse and swore at a police officer you would be sacked !!! FACT and before NMC

  56. @johnmcternan @Dannythefink @JohnRentoul do you deny, McTernan, that Gordon Brown ever swore at or in front of staff? (either one will do)

  57. @johnmcternan @JohnRentoul Not if you use ‘You are meant to be F***ing working for us’ It was a set -up no reason not to open gate. And 1/2

  58. @johnmcternan @JohnRentoul you lot are supposed to fucking help is not the same as you fucking lot are supposed to help

  59. .@Dannythefink @JohnRentoul Don’t understand why general behaviour wasn’t bad enough. Nor why No 10 cops would know to ‘create’ worse frame

  60. @AdrianAtterby @johnmcternan @dannythefink @johnrentoul asking for consistency. As @smithjj62 says most politicians have sworn at staff

  61. @johnmcternan @JohnRentoul Miliband acted like a student activist he needs to apologise otherwise he will be condemned as #OwenJonesWannabe

  62. @johnmcternan @JohnRentoul If the police thought the swearing was as serious as you do then the CCTV and notes would match, because…

  63. @johnmcternan @Dannythefink @JohnRentoul bloody hell John, have you followed any of what’s happened? the evidence is there

  64. @wallaceme @johnmcternan @Dannythefink @JohnRentoul @smithjj62 that was kind of my point? Resigning issue? Not a cat in hells chance.

  65. @LouiseMensch @Dannythefink @JohnRentoul Long bow. The Fed in West Mids were conspiring with the No 10 gate cops? Seriously?

  66. @DavidCWild @smithjj62 @Dannythefink @JohnRentoul True. Followed by ‘you haven’t heard the last of this’ it probably is.

  67. @dlknowles @johnmcternan @robertshrimsley “Man loses his temper at jobsworths” is hardly a career-ending news story.

  68. @johnmcternan @JohnRentoul no. It was not addressed to police therefore it was not at police

  69. @londonstatto @johnmcternan @robertshrimsley Cabinet minister loses temper & swears at police is pretty bad. Maybe not career ending.

  70. @johnmcternan @adrianatterby @dannythefink @johnrentoul @smithjj62 I don’t think it’s acceptable. You said swearing at any staff = resigning

  71. @johnmcternan @adrianatterby @dannythefink @johnrentoul @smithjj62 are you denying Gordon Brown ever swore at Downing Street staff?

  72. @dlknowles @johnmcternan @robertshrimsley Did he actually swear *at* the jobsworths or just in their earshot?

  73. @johnmcternan @JohnRentoul I am not down with the kids so you will have to explain ‘Random’ to me.

  74. @LouiseMensch @johnmcternan Louise, it was, “I thought you were supposing to effing help us.” To whom is that addressed?

  75. @wallaceme @johnmcternan @Dannythefink @JohnRentoul @smithjj62 please debate something important, whether or not someone swore isn’t

  76. @AdrianAtterby @johnmcternan @dannythefink @johnrentoul @smithjj62 it’s important that John has one standard for Tories + another for Brown

  77. @LouiseMensch @johnmcternan @OldRolyBirkinQC @Dannythefink @JohnRentoul Imp distinction. Not clear its fully made out here. Was about them.

  78. @johnmcternan So when you worked in Downing Street, if anyone ever lost their temper and swore, did you demand their resignation?

  79. @Dannythefink 35% cases referred to NMC are about nurses “Character” even when not legal “right sort of person”

  80. @JohnRentoul @johnmcternan John would a nurses face disciplinary and referred to NMC for swearing at a police officer – I think so

  81. .@LouiseMensch @JohnRentoul So why call it an altercation? you cannot have an altercation on your own.

  82. .@londonstatto @dlknowles @robertshrimsley He called it an ‘altercation’ – it takes two to altercate.

  83. .@purpleline @JohnRentoul Your reference to Mr Miliband was rather random.

  84. @johnmcternan @JohnRentoul With respect, I have to disagree with you, I watched his performance in the chamber attacking Mitchell.

  85. @johnmcternan @JohnRentoul but you can have an altercation without swearing at someone, and he did.

  86. @LouiseMensch @JohnRentoul Ah, I see. Had an altercation with the cops. But only swore near them. Doesn’t really hang together.

  87. @johnmcternan @JohnRentoul Wouldn’t you? A busy minister in a hurry is obstructed for no good reason? I might swear.

  88. .@TCHL @JohnRentoul Judging by the agreed exchanges a blustering, up himself minister.

  89. @johnmcternan @DavidCWild @smithjj62 @JohnRentoul How can you seriously quote from the police account as if it happened like that?

  90. @LondonNurse2013 Have you got one – one – example of a nurse dismissed for swearing once at a police officer?

  91. @johnmcternan well perhaps “end-of” but public can make a a judgement on that. to me bigger issue is integrity and honesty of police

  92. @johnmcternan frankly i’m far more concerned with whether I can trust police than whether Mitchell said fuck.amazed you see no difference

  93. @robertshrimsley Like @johnrentoul I do find the Met’s lack of haste in this case utterly inexplicable. High stakes involved.

  94. @Dannythefink They might marry them but not swear at them, but if you did you would be reported to the NMC

  95. @Dannythefink but find me a nurse who has ever done o it – it would be outrageous

  96. @Dannythefink Danny simply ask any health worker you know or NHS manager – they will tell you – straight to NMC

  97. @JohnRentoul @Astroreaper @Dannythefink @johnmcternan cf Homer to Lisa:they’re not laughing *at* you; they’re laughing *towards* you.

  98. @LondonNurse2013 you ask one, and provide with one single, solid example of a nurse who lost their job for swearing at a policeman

  99. @LondonNurse2013 Also it is completely and totally ludicrous to suggest that a nurse has never sworn at a policeman. Absurd!

  100. @Dannythefink @meratron @johnmcternan @JohnRentoul If he really said the 442 word log in front of passersby the cops would have arrested him

  101. @Dannythefink @johnmcternan @JohnRentoul Both wrong? Is there an explanation that doesn’t require me to think something very unlikely?

  • chrishaines47

    You are a useful idiot Mr Rentoul. Until today all I saw was a cheap shot at Tony Bliar. Now you are an apologist for murderers. “Pleb” is not how Tories speak – it is how plod THINK that they speak. I saw the same on the transcripts of Smiley Cultures inquest.

  • JohnJustice

    If this is how our leading political pundits twitter between themselves give me the comments of us lesser mortals at sites such as this any time ( Blair haters and conpiracy theorists excepted of course).

  • Kippers

    But doesn’t this story have many of the elements of a conspiracy?

  • porkfright

    Yes, I guess the comments of those of us who actually possess the ability to reply to idiocy will be unwelcome to some who regard their own views to be no less than gospel truth.


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