‘Pleb’ is not a word a police officer would come up with as a plant

Today saw the reinvigoration of the row over whether or not the former Government Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell MP, did or did not call the two police officers who asked him to take his bicycle through the pedestrian gate from Downing Street rather than have the main gates opened to stage his exit more impressively ‘f***ing plebs’.

A third officer who had apparently offered a witness statement to support the allegations of this use of language made by the duty officers on the evening in question.

That officer is said now neither to have been on duty nor even in Downing Street at the time.

Mitchell is demanding a full enquiry and warming to the ‘I wus stitched up, guv’ routine.

If the arrested officer did indeed concoct his evidence, he has been worse than foolish.

He has added to the public impression – fuelled by the recent revelations about the conduct of the police over the enquiry into the Hillsborough football tragedy – that the police force itself does not walk a straight line.

But that does not mean that the two duty officers are wrong or false in claiming that  ‘f***ing plebs’ is what Mr Mitchell said to them when he lost his temper.

The key thing is that word ‘pleb’ – not just because it is politically destructive for a Conservative MP to use it against police officers; but because it is not a word remotely in common usage today, therefore two police officers would be unlikely to invent its use.

Moreover, some who know MR Mitchell have, earlier in this schemozzle, told the press that ‘pleb’ is a dismissive word he is known to use. It is part of his familiar vocabulary.

In the heat of the uproar and before his forced resignation, it was notable that Mr Mitchell’s way of denying what he had said was the rather distanced: ‘I did not say the words attributed to me’.

This has a shed load of wriggle room.

Michell did not claim: ‘I did not say any of the words attributed to me’. Which leaves open questions as to which specific words attributed to him he did not say? Neat.

There is an unpleasant vindictiveness by the state in what is now going on; and there is a nasty opportunism in Mitchell’s immediate turn to aggression.

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24 Responses to ‘Pleb’ is not a word a police officer would come up with as a plant

  1. “because it is not a word remotely in common usage today”
    Hmmm… I wasn’t there. I don’t know the truth in this storm. But where’s your evidence that the word ‘pleb’ is not in common use? That’s not my experience.

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    • This a term long favoured amongst public school boys and amongst those who would ape them.
      This milieu is slow to change and ‘pleb’ is likely still to be in current use in such circles.
      These are unlikely, as a general rule, to include coppers. ‘Pleb’ is certainly not a term in common usage.

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      • In fairness Newsroom, the word pleb could be thought by the accusing police officer to be the perfect word, a word ‘favoured amongst public school boys’, therefore, a believeable word to use in his accusation.
        It gives me no satisfaction defending Mitchell, however, this is a very difficult one to pass judgement on given an expectation that if Mitchell is guilty of what he is accused, he, like most who have something to lose will try and save their skin regardless. At the same time, as you quite rightly point out citing Hillsborough, police officers like anyone else are well capable of being economical with the honesty.

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        • You have to know a word to use it in this way and while what you suggest is not impossible, it is not plausible.
          It looks as if the third officer – who was not actually there – pretended he was to back up the two who were and is repeatong what they have always said was said to them.
          Their testimony is not being disputed – except in less than specific terms by Mr Mitchell – who is actually known by his friends to use the word as a part of his everyday vpcabulary.
          A police officer is the last who should fabricate evidence and that is never acceptable.
          But this wrong action cannot in logic be read as invalidating the testimony of the two oificers who were there.
          The only way to test this would be to put Mitchell on oath, in public, on television, with the two officers in the front row in his eyeline – and ask him the direct question – ‘Did you use the word ‘pleb’ in front of these officers on that evening?’
          The trouble is that we still judge too often on the basis of rank, which has nothing to do with the fount of truth. We are unwilling to accept that lowly police officers may be telling the truth where a Minister may be avoiding telling the truth.

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  2. If I remember rightly that at the time ,the spokesman for the polis union down there took the chance of the headline to rant on at great length about every grievance they had with the Government – being able to get at a Tory Minister opened up the ideal opportunity. Your timing by the way is perhaps not perfect – another national headline this morning is ” Action to combat police corruption urged ”
    A much more balanced article is in the Telegraph this morning – apparently CCTV – although with no sound – ” showed he did not have time for a furious row with the police officers after being told to dismount from his bicycle”

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    • What we have said implies no blanket support for the police – whose conduct in recent years – decades – has much to answer for.
      The Hillsborough conclusions, delivered today, testify to this.

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    • Balanced? the Telegraph? Have’nt seen or heard what this paper have to say on this particular matter recently but would they by any chance be siding with the Tory’s side of events?

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  3. You certainly don’t hesitiate to rush to judgement Newsie.

    No need for Newsie to check evidence or examine statements or even check to see if one of the witnesses was actually there.

    Oh no!

    Not need for that troublesome research for Newsie: a whole article based on your spurious specualtion that “the key thing is that word ‘pleb’…because it is not a word remotely in common usage today, therefore two police officers would be unlikely to invent its use”.

    QED according to Newsie – ‘Mitchell’s guilty off with his head’.

    Well my reaction to this utter nonsense is one word (you’ll be glad to hear that this word IS in common usage and springs to mind instanly when anyone with half a brain reads trash like this: bollocks.

    Have a nice day :)

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  4. actually I’m not commenting on this–I’d like to talk with someone about the adverts that keep popping up in the middle of the articles–can’t see a contact detail

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  5. But a Labour Party spin doctor might come up with the words and story along with the trade union who have been at war with the government. Even a Labour MP was just expressing concern about the union.

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  6. Newsie, “we still judge too often on the basis of rank, which has nothing to do with the fount of truth” this has nothing to do with rank.

    But it doe shave to do with honesty. If it now looks like the 3rd policeman lied – then so have 1&2. Because they knew he wasn’t there but they apparently colluded and never spoke up.

    The other thing it has to do with is you; you and your dogmatic ‘I am right’ attitude. You based a whole article on your spurious speculation and even when one of the witnesses at least is now considered a liar you still persist.

    Your moralising “rank….has nothing to do with the fount of truth.” reeks of self-importance and deluded self-belief.

    I don’t know what exactly happened and I’m certainly not defending Andrew Mitchell Tory MP. But you know what? Even Tory MPs have rights and now that we hear that at least one police officer has lied it does at least cast doubts over the story the others are telling. That should be enough for even you to stop digging.

    Rushing to judgement is never a good idea for anybody.

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    • Of course they would – but the only way that word, ‘pleb’, would spring to mind was if it was in regular usage by those the elite squad guard. This would speak for itself and is indeed the circumstantial evidence that makes it hard to dismiss the duty officers’ claims of what Mitchell said to them – since he is known to use the word.

      Interestingly, the journalists on the late night news review on Sky last night pointed out that swearing at a police office – which Mitchell has admitted – is a legal offence, where the use of the word ‘pleb’ is only a social one.

      So this government is happy to set the law aside but is much more concerned about the political impact of what Mitchell did or did not say – as most of the rest of probably are as well.

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      • just a thought, Mitchell was ex army, army sland for the police = PLOD, very close to the mark, could almost imagine him saying f***ing plod without too much difficulty

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  7. The guy committed an offence by swearing at two police officers. They have both made statements to that effect so what any third or fourth person said is of no consequence. They could have been added to the mix to cause confusion.

    Using the CCTV footage as evidence is just a desperate ploy to swing public opinion. Film and video evidence has been doctored since JFK and probably before that.

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  8. Media full today of stories:-
    A ‘stitch-up’ by the cops (shome mishtake shurely?? – not the British bobby fitting someone up??)
    The MET Commissioner comes back early from holiday to ‘look after the welfare of his officers’,
    The second man arrested over the affair is apparently related to the policeman who falsely claimed to be a member of the public who witnessed the row while passing Downing Street with his nephew,
    All ‘an attempt to Toxify the Tories’ claims Mitchell.

    Still sticking to your guns Newsie?? Still maintaining that the cops are innocent and that Mitchell is guity? Any other than your ‘circumstantial*’ evidence at all to support this? (*ie your fatuous claim that Mitchell “is known to use the word pleb” therefore he must guilty)

    Not good at admitting you might be wrong (again) are you Newsie?

    have a nice day :)

    ps Not sure that having someone cite the JFK conspiracy theorey to support your stance really counts as evidence in the eyes of any fair-mided individual….

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  9. Mitchell resignation was to take the bad publicity away from the government. His (admitted) offence was minor and not subject of any charges. He has suffered disproportionately surely. However he should have known better.
    Now if anyone (police officer or not) has attempted any malicious misrepresentations they should similarly face the music. Two wrongs dont make a right but on this occasion it would be the fairest outcome.
    All patries could then enjoy their Christmas and move on into 2013 a bit wiser.

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