Andrew Mitchell, an MP who has paid a heavy price for his bad temper, indiscipline and bad judgement!
The focus solely on what Andrew Mitchell MP did or did not say in the so-called Plebgate affair ignores a far more important aspect [consequence?] of his conduct: the effect of that type of conduct on security.
Custodians of entrance to and exit from ‘sensitive’ buildings (amongst which 10 Downing Street is now firmly established as being one such no less than any Ministry of Defence building) are charged with controlling not only who enters and leaves the premises, but how they do so. It is not for any individual, however highly placed, to seek to interfere with that function merely for their own personal convenience.
Such events carry the propensity to impair this element of security and, not solely the security of the individual challenging the operation of this function, but also the security of its custodians plus, most importantly, the security of all others present in the building. Where there is any authority, albeit indirect authority, arbitrarily interfering in this security function, there is no natural limit and consequently an ambiguity, an unnecessary doubt is created about its control. Doubt or confusion about the operation of security inevitably diminishes it, and does so quite unnecessarily.
Imagine a crisis emerging in which the entrance to No 10 came suddenly to be threatened by a group of armed insurgents against a history in which Mitchell’s demands and those of other government ministers had often been conceded by the police guards. Say Mitchell himself at was present that moment and about to depart, is it not likely that the police in reacting to the danger would hesitate, even momentarily, in taking action to secure his and their personal safety and that of the premises? How unfortunate if such hesitation had serious consequences; all the more unfortunate if they were unnecessary and caused by the situation created by Mitchell’s abuse of his position! Perhaps this is regarded as fanciful but, in truth, it is a logical result of such high-handed conduct!
The writer recalls having been told many decades ago by a security guard on one of the entrances to the Admiralty (which name itself indicates how long ago) that everyone was required to show his pass, even the First Sea Lord, then Lord Louis Mountbatten, who always did so without demurring . . . but then, he had been involved in actual combat and knew the need for discipline in such matters.
The bottom line is that Andrew Mitchell by his conduct has demonstrated how unfit he is to hold high office. If the public service in England still has any real value, Mr Mitchell’s career in our politics will be nearing its end. Shame on Andrew Mitchell for his failure to recognise the impact of his intemperate behaviour on security, and shame on the British news media for failing to comprehend this and to report it! English citizens deserve better!