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Oct 20 2012

Cabinet members and plebs

[UPDATE: It looks like George Osborna has a habit of sitting in first class while paying only for standard class.]

Over in the UK, the conservative government has been pushing ‘austerity measures’, by which it means of course not austerity for their oligarchs but for ordinary people. The contempt that the global ruling classes feel for the public is usually discreetly hidden but, just as in the US, on occasion the mask drops, revealing the real face.

Take for example, the recent case in which Andrew Mitchell, a cabinet minister, when told by a policeman that he could not use a particular gate to exit and had to use another one, lambasted them and called them ‘plebs’, reminiscent of of George Orwell’s ‘proles’ in 1984. According to the police log of the incident,

A colleague of the female officer who wrote the incident report continues: “After several refusals Mr Mitchell got off his bike and walked to the pedestrian gate with me after I again offered to open that for him.

“There were several members of public present as is the norm opposite the pedestrian gate and as we neared it, Mr Mitchell said: ‘Best you learn your f—— place . . . you don’t run this f—— government . . . you’re f—— plebs.’ ”

The officer noted that members of the public looked “visibly shocked” by Mr Mitchell’s language and the Chief Whip was warned that he if he continued to swear he would be arrested under the Public Order Act.

The police record notes: “Mr Mitchell was then silent and left saying ‘you haven’t heard the last of this’ as he cycled off.”

First off, I have to congratulate the police officer for threatening to arrest a cabinet minister. We need more like her. After first denying the accusations and using the word ‘plebs’, Mitchell then admitted them and has just resigned.

Then in another bizarre incident, the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, the equivalent of the US Treasury Secretary and the architect of the austerity measures, was observed to be sitting in the First Class compartment of a train although he had paid just the standard fare, and telling the ticket collector that he ‘could not possibly sit in the standard class’. The ticket collector, to his credit and like the police officer, refused to bend the rules for the big shot.

Of course one can sympathize with Osborne’s plight. Imagine the horror if one of his friends from his exclusive clubs observed him sitting with the plebs. How could he possibly explain away the ignominy? Unfortunately for him, however, a reporter observed the event and sent out a steady stream to Tweets in real time as it developed so that the minister was met with a barrage of reporters when he exited the train. He refused to comment and the incident is now being referred to as ‘The Great Train Snobbery”.

As one other passenger who observed the incident said, “It’s one rule for them and one rule for us.”

That’s about right. Get with the program, you plebs, and stop whining about your betters.

18 comments

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  1. 1
    Marcus Ranum

    Mr Mitchell was then silent and left saying ‘you haven’t heard the last of this’ as he cycled off.

    Indeed.

    That’s what Hitchens used to refer to as a “tumbril remark.”

  2. 2
    Marcus Ranum

    PS – Mr Mitchell would probably not have slung that slur at Marcus Licinius Crassus, who was a plebian, and who would have squashed him like a bug sooner than notice him.

  3. 3
    ashleybell

    “Mr Mitchell was then silent and left saying ‘you haven’t heard the last of this’ as he cycled off.”

    translation: ” I’ll get you AND your little dog too…

    “After first denying the accusations and using the word ‘plebs’, Mitchell then admitted them and has just resigned.”

    translation: Mommy, I think I AM too tired to stay up and watch Wizard of Oz… Can you, ‘sniff sniff’ put me to bed?

    Next week on a very special episode of “Oops Your Oligarchy is Showing…..

  4. 4
    Chiroptera

    …The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne…was observed to be sitting in the First Class compartment of a train although he had paid just the standard fare, and telling the ticket collector that he ‘could not possibly sit in the standard class’.

    Holy f***!

    He also couldn’t possible have paid for a First Class ticket?

    That’s the 1% for you. Not only do they think they have special privileges, but the expect the other 99% to subsidize those privileges.

  5. 5
    Uncle Glenny

    Unfortunately, “You people” doesn’t work well with the grammatical constructs of his choice.

  6. 6
    Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

    Osborne will probably put that ticket on expenses that we (tax payers) will have to pay anyway. Bugger should have sat back in standard class…

  7. 7
    Pierce R. Butler

    Hairy Chris &c @ # 6: Bugger should have sat back in standard class…

    No. In a crate. On the roof.

  8. 8
    Corvus illustris

    Just out of idle curiosity: aren’t MPs privileged (in the archaic sense) against arrest? or was Mitchell a non-MP minister if that’s possible? Close readers of the US constitution know that congresspeople are thus privileged except in cases of treason, felony or breach of the peace. (This privilege has been invoked fairly recently.)

  9. 9
    AsqJames

    MPs (and Members of the House of Lords) do indeed enjoy “Parliamentary Privilege”, but it is somewhat limited. There is no blanket exception to ordinary laws.

    Mitchell is an MP, but you do not need to be on to be a minister, even one of cabinet rank. Members of the Lords can also be ministers, and since the PM alone appoints ministers and also has the power to ennoble anyone he fancies…

  10. 10
    Nathaniel Frein

    Hehehehe…

    “The Great Train Snobbery”

    Made my day.

  11. 11
    AsqJames

    Sorry, meant the word limited above to be a link to wikipedia and forgot to add it.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parliamentary_privilege

  12. 12
    sumdum

    I do hope he was told that according to his train ticket he could not possibly sit in first class.

  13. 13
    sunny

    “It’s one rule for them and one rule for us.”

    -

    Not only that: we should also consider ourselves blessed to be ruled by them.

    These are the kind of situations where I am happy that there is social media such as Twitter.

  14. 14
    Tim

    Wow. A UK politician calls someone a name and resigns because of that? Politicians in the US do far, far worse and refuse to resign.

    Guess they have better manners in the UK.

    One of the most ironic sentences I’ve read all day:

    “Cameron, educated at the elite Eton private school, has struggled to shake off the impression that he and other senior members of his party come from a rich, privileged background far removed from the electorate …”

    Ummm, yeah. He was educated at Eton. Makes him pretty privileged.

  15. 15
    Corvus illustris

    Thanks. Non-MP ministers of the past came to mind but I thought that things might have changed.

  16. 16
    Corvus illustris

    What surprises provincials like me is that so much is made of Cameron’s preparation at Eton as opposed to his B.A. (Oxon.) with first class hono(u)rs. It’s as if much were made of Romney’s career at Cranbrook (as anything other than a common bully*) but his Harvard period went unmentioned.

    *see Mitchell, Andrew.

  17. 17
    Kobal

    This Mitchell kerfuffle (archaic word, but fun to say!) has been simmering away just behind the headlines on this side of the pond for a few weeks, but for some reason it’s the phrase ‘plebs’ that people spot I find “know your f_____g place” to be the more damning remark by far. Shows rather clearly how this man and his cronies think.

    Hehe, “the great train snobbery”. I hadn’t heard that!

  18. 18
    Mano Singham

    It does not surprise me. I think that attending an exclusive private boarding school is a more telling sign of parental wealth and ambition than getting into an elite university.

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