First it was Nick Clegg, and now it is Andrew Mitchell.
In the space of a month, the leader of the Liberal Democrats and the Chief Whip of the Conservatives have hit the headlines for derogatory or offensive remarks made – or in Clegg’s case, that he prepared to make.
Clegg managed to escape without too much fuss after a speech he had prepared for Parliament referred to opponents of gay marriage as ‘bigots’. The leaked speech generated negative press coverage and was amended before being delivered.
Andrew Mitchell, meanwhile, was caught up in a row with police who he is claimed to have referred to as ‘plebs’ and ‘morons’ according to the officers’ reports,
The comments came after a long and frustrating day, Mitchell said yesterday. And without condoning the behaviour of the man who is responsible for party discipline, no one’s immune to losing their cool once in a while – even politicians.
But it’s the reaction from the two men that is the real issue in both of these cases.
Following criticism in the media over the wording of the speech that Nick Clegg was to deliver, he removed the word ‘bigot’ and went on to claim that he actually has plenty of respect for the views of others who are against gay marriage. Indeed, he wrote to the churches to insist that he would never describe such people as being bigoted.
The response of Andrew Mitchell was to deny using the words attributed to him, though as a storm erupted over what was – or wasn’t – said, he hasn’t managed to enlighten anyone yet as to what specifically his comments were.
The reason Mitchell might be expected to offer a bit more of an explanation is because he has strenuously denied using words which the police officers involved have reported – and that puts the integrity of either him or the police into question.
Being able to trust those in government should be taken for granted, even if we don’t all agree with the respective policies of each party.
Unfortunately, many people around the country simply don’t trust the politicians in charge. Incidents such as those which have involved senior MPs this month will do little to change that perception.