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Steve Dyson: Message to The Sun over Andrew Mitchell: ‘On yer bike’

Steve Dyson: Message to The Sun over Andrew Mitchell: ‘On yer bike’

🕔26.Sep 2012
English: Andrew Mitchell, British politician a...

Don’t you just hate it when The Sun becomes obsessed with a particular incident or individual?

The headlines barely differ: SACK HIM; THE SUN DEMANDS HE MUST GO; SUN POLL SAYS ‘GO’…

What are they talking about now? The England football manager again? Nick Clegg? Jeremy Hunt?

Ah, no, this time it’s Sutton Coldfield MP and government Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell.

Why, what’s he done? Slept with his secretary? Fiddled his expenses? Kicked a begging tramp into the gutter?

Er, no. He’s lost his rag when what he felt was a jobsworth copper refused to let him ride his bicycle through the main gates to Downing Street.

What… The Sun is demanding he’s sacked for that?

Yep… oh, and the additional sin of using the F-word and, allegedly, the new P-word, ‘pleb’.

Now look, Mitchell messed up badly with his attitude with the police constable last week. There’s little excuse for swearing at a bobby, even if they sometimes can be a bit officious. And there’s no excuse for calling them ‘plebs’, which infers that you think they are of a less-deserving class.

Whatever Mitchell says about using the ‘pleb’ word, (he seems to deny it), there is little doubt that he said something similar or that essentially meant the same (“don’t you know who I am, you worthless little PC” kind of style).

For this he needs to be contrite; more contrite than he has been. An appearance on TV in the next day or so to say something like this wouldn’t go amiss:

“I want to say what a twit I’ve been. Not only did I treat the police with less respect than they deserve, I was also perceived to be snooty with them. And while I do not agree with the exact phrases attributed to me, I do admit I was too terse, too superior and, to be honest, dismissive of their role. I’m sorry for that. I didn’t mean it, I just lost my rag. I will learn from this.”

But that aside, can we then move on and tell the lynch mob led by the knee-jerk Sun and Torygraph where to get off?

Yes, Mitchell messed up badly and must learn some humility. But his record as a hard-working MP and as a government minister willing to take on unpopular roles is impressive, and he certainly doesn’t deserve the sack.

You only have to look at the Sutton Coldfield Observer any week and you’ll see a minimum of three pictures of Mitchell doing his job on his local patch as MP: school assemblies, opening charity events, visiting new businesses.

And have we forgotten his determined role as International Development Secretary? Holding sick babies in Africa, increasing Britain’s foreign aid for schools, farms and businesses in flood-hit Pakistan and flying to places like Afghanistan and Libya when they were at their most dangerous to help poor people, doesn’t strike me as the activity of someone who is not socially aware.

Finally, above all other reasons, I’m uncomfortable with The Sun and co because I see their obsessive ‘Mitchell must go’ drive as a shamed national media desperate to reassert themselves as a power over government in the wake of Leveson.

And, as an old colleague of mine mentioned today on Facebook, it wasn’t a bad way for The Sun to get Hillsborough off the front pages as well, was it?

Time to move on. Time to say ‘On yer bike’ to The Sun.


Steve Dyson is a media pundit who used to edit the Birmingham Mail. He also lives in Sutton Coldfield, but is not a Tory voter.




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