The Slog’s political pantomime of the year award goes to Plebgate
In yesterday’s piece about Plebgate, I opined that a battle for what’s left of the Tory Party’s soul was going on. Support arrived for this idea this morning as The Times suddenly brought David Davis onstage…..to add yet further complication to an already impenetrable scandal.
As if we all knew about this anyway – and sounding more than a little pay-attention-at-the-back-there – Murdoch’s Chimes depicted Davis as ‘Captain of Team Mitchell’, and the man who had encouraged the former Chief Whip to ‘clear his name’ after he (Davis) had minutely dissected the CCTV footage at Downing Street’s gate. The effect of this move by the Times (which, as a Murdoch title, probably knows exactly what all this bollocks is about) is thus to suggest that the anti-Cameron Davis and Mitchell represent pre-Thatcher One Nation Conservatism, whereas Cameron and Deputy Chief Whip John Randall represent The Nasty Party.
But this too does not stand up. Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson represent as close as you can get to the pulsating cold heart of the Nasty Party. As a bloke from a very poor background with a single mother, David Davis is the very antithesis of what they’re about: yet Bojo and Shunt piled in on Mitchell’s side. (Just so I don’t knowingly mislead anyone here by the way, The Slog is – as far as I can discern – the only voice anywhere ready to point out the damning connection between Randall’s ‘either Mitchell goes or I do’ quote of two months ago, and the fact Bad Fibber Plod rang him immediately after telling a pack of lies to The Sun….which is also a Murdoch title.
So just to sum up, we have the internecine Party rivalry angle, the cops hate the Tories for starving them of funds angle, and the Murdoch is still out to get his revenge on Cameron angle. (And of course it could be that, purely on the My Enemy’s Enemy angle, Hunt and Johnson saw Cameron’s legs stretching between two diverging cliffs and decided to make his life more difficult for the hell of it. That’s not as bonkers as it sounds).
But hold hard conspiracy theorists, because Oliver Wright and Paul Peachey at The Independent bring further evidence to the table. This morning they wrote that ‘David Cameron has known for almost three months that at least one member of his own élite protection unit may have fabricated parts of the Downing Street police log about the confrontation with Andrew Mitchell’. The difference between this piece and the one in the Times is that here we have two investigative reporters trying to get at the truth, while over in Wapping we have legions of Newscorpers trying to keep the entire embarrassing mess on the boil. Do read the Indie piece: it tends on the whole to put this affair slap-bang back into the internecine warfare space.
Ever since his renaissance, Andrew Mitchell has been kissing policewomen, which must at least make a change from babies. But what we are seeing here is not a governmental altercation: rather, it is symptomatic of a political divide that is three dimensional. I posted about this situation some months ago, and you can catch up with it at that link.
Meanwhile (as it’s Christmas) I quite like the idea of this entertainment as a sort of cross between Punch & Judy and Panto: something that will become, over the years, a Yuletide standard. I can already hear Mr Plod screeching “That’s the way ter dooit!” as he bashes Mitchell over the head with his truncheon. Equally, I can see Hunt, Johnson and Randall as the Ugly Sisters – and David Cameron as a tailor-made Cinderella who isn’t going to any kind of ball. David Davis may yet turn out to be Dick Whittington; but as for Andrew Mitchell himself, is he a hero or a villain? Cue Rupert Murdoch going “Oh yes he is!” as the audience goes “Oh no he isn’t!”
Doubtless, as a counterpoint, no doubt Labour would like to put on some kind of dull Midwinter Solstice Festivale de Rire, which – like most Socialist humour – might well consist of club-footed references to Puss in NHS Boots and Ed Miliballadin. I can’t help thinking, however, that the live-as-we-watch-it-unfold media version is always going to be more engaging.
With The Big Day approaching rapidly, I have less and less time to post. You can read some of the more amusing reasons why this is later in At the End of the Day.