Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Thrasher's Outburst Is Just Another Nail in the Coffin of Public Respect for MPs; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Thrasher's Outburst Is Just Another Nail in the Coffin of Public Respect for MPs; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: Bernard Trafford

E all have bad days.

When I've had one, I'm less than charming company at home. I'm not proud of my grumpier or more miserable episodes.

But I don't (I think) take it out on people who work with me, nor on people I encounter on the way home - such as public servants just doing their jobs.

But then I'm not an MP, nor a party Chief Whip to boot.

I'm talking about the guy they nickname "Thrasher", presumably because he's a whip. Party whips are rarely marked for their understated charm or quiet courtesy: they're the bruisers used by party leaders to keep MPs in line. And we know that process can be pretty brutal.

Andrew Mitchell is reported to have sworn at a police officer who directed him away from the main Downing Street gates, insisting he used a smaller pedestrian exit. Friends and supporters immediately lined up to say what a good chap Thrasher is. They used adjectives like "robust", admiring him for the direct way he gets the job done. Robust? Direct? Mussolini got the Italian trains to run on time, but his particular style of "robustness" didn't render fascist dictatorship acceptable.

Mr Mitchell's outburst came after a "long and extremely frustrating day". But however tough his day had been, no matter how it helps the PM to have a bully-boy as Commons enforcer, his behaviour was inexcusable.

Is it worse that he abused a police officer? I'm not sure. It's ironic, however, that his victim was someone charged with guaranteeing his safety and that of all the government housed in Downing Street: the ingratitude alone is churlish.

Whatever was said at the Downing Street gate, the manner in which it was said is enough to damn Mr Mitchell. His apology was diminished by his attempt at mitigation: "I didn't use the words attributed to me".

Sadly it's only another nail in the coffin of public respect for MPs. Mitchell's sheer disdain of those further down the ladder led him to behave like that: the excuse of a bad day or a loss of temper is no excuse at all. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.