Belfast Telegraph

Aside from politics, isn't Plebgate really rather funny?

By Grace Dent

As a pleb, I'm dismayed not to have experienced the full umbrage owed to me during Andrew Mitchell's 'Plebgate'. Perhaps it's down to my poor education, or the fact that I subsisted for most of the 1980s on complex carbs fried in Stork SB, that my outrage glands aren't functioning.

I cared slightly, for three minutes, then I deeply didn't care. I care more now about the risible faux-drama based on political gain.

"But do you not realise the importance," friends have said, pulling themselves up to full-scale harrumph, "of a public servant using class-based derogatory slang against the police force?"

I must have been napping during the big chattering classes "We hate the police; they're corrupt thugs/We love the police; they are sacred cows who must never have their feelings hurt" changeover some time last week. I missed this memo.

I know I've watched enough Sky TV Police Camera Action to know that, in the real world, the police seem to carry some spitting, swearing, kebab-chucking, head-butting loon into a van, only for Michael Burke to wearily explain in voiceover that "the man was later released without charge" about every 20 minutes. So to suddenly hear that shouting "pleb" requires a week-long inquiry has been fascinating.

However you feel about the police, Mitchell puffing and panting towards them on his Raleigh Chopper with a raffia shopping basket - I like to believe this is what he rides - having his routine marred, then getting his knickers in a twist and being all boggle-eyed eyed, is slightly funny.

Blimey. Who knew Whips were angry curmudgeons who like their own way? (Answer: anyone who knows anything about Westminster, giving birth to the character Malcolm Tucker, one of the 21st-century's best-loved dramatic anti-heroes.)

Whips - and this isn't officially on the job-spec - are idiots. Their job is being obstreperous, barely-concealed tyrants.

It's the only reason anything gets done and parliament isn't just an abandoned chamber with three newby try-hards in suits doing all the voting while 300 MPs on sicknotes paddle and eat choc-ices on their yachts.

I'd be unshocked if the word pleb were in Mitchell's artillery during a minor meltdown. Neither would he be shocked to hear the words "You posh idiot" or "You little Fauntleroy" drip from my lips if he tackled me on a bad day.

Class slander is everywhere. When David Cameron announced he was joining Twitter this week, I thought, Prepare, my ruddy-cheeked amigo, to be, as they say, pwned. The class hatred you'll be treated to will be so bile-fuelled that you'll feel like popping down to the Downing Street gates and asking the police to slam you on the head just for a treat.

With regards to name-calling, the one thing I've learned as a columnist and internet addict is that, when no one has political gain to make from it, nobody actually gives a damn.

The advice to someone with a social network account being called a pleb would be to grow a thicker skin, ignore it, not put yourself in a position where people infuriate you.

It's an odd state of affairs when things seem more sensible on the internet.


From Belfast Telegraph