Plebgate, Rennard and real power

February 6, 2014 10:43 am

We learn today that the chief of the Met Police has met with Andrew Mitchell to deliver a grovelling apology for the conduct of one of the “Plebgate” officers. Now we know the truth about the whole affair, it’s cringe-worthy to imagine what the meeting between Cameron and Mitchell must have been like which led to the former Secretary of State for International Development’s “resignation”. Poor Andrew must have been absolutely indignant and presumably utterly crestfallen when Cameron resolutely told him that it would be best for the Party if he resigned regardless of whether or not the allegations were true. Mitchell obliged. Contrast this with Clegg’s management of Rennard. Under similar pressure from the press the Lib-Dem leader ordered Rennard to apologise where an apology would have been tantamount to admitting criminal conduct which the Peer still denies, despite a growing body of anecdotal evidence. Lord Rennard refused, and Clegg ended up kicking him out of the Party.

Aside from the clear variation in aptitude for crisis management between the Prime and Deputy Prime-Ministers, both stories reiterate two important political maxims: first, that politicians can and will be sacrificed at the altar of party reputation regardless of guilt, and, second, that the scalp-driven, bloodthirsty nature of modern journalism renders truth a secondary concern when accusations are made against public representatives.

Luke de Pulford

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