Andrew Mitchell’s real crime was to express explicitly what is normally only said in code in political circles

In the media, which is currently experiencing paroxysms of fury over Mitchell’s use of the p-word, the lower orders are of course never referred to as plebs. No, they are called “obese”, “extremists”, “racist”, “tabloid readers”, “couch potatoes”; they are described as “paranoid, suspicious, mistrustful, misogynist”, as “silently and violently rejecting anyone who is different or who expresses a different opinion to that of the crowd”.

Why all the fuss over Andrew Mitchell’s alleged use of the p-word? If he did say it, then he only said explicitly what is in the hearts and minds of so much of today’s political and media elite – namely that the world is divided neatly between decent people (Us) and plebs (Them).

Mitchell’s alleged crime is really a linguistic one rather than a moral one. There isn’t a single member of the current Cabinet that doesn’t likewise look upon ordinary people as inferior. It’s just that, versed in political correctness and skilled at dolling up their snobbery as “concern”, they studiously avoid using old-fashioned words like pleb.

David Cameron prefers to refer to vast swathes of poor Britain as a “blight”, as “chaotic”, and to families who do things differently to the Cameron family as “troubled”. Nick Clegg likes to bandy about the term “bigots” to describe those who do not share his worldview, particularly on the issue of gay marriage. Like Gordon Brown, who branded a 65-year-old woman who asked him awkward questions about immigration a bigot, Clegg has learnt that the best way to express your profound sense of superiority over the masses is to make them look like the prejudiced ones. If you label them bigots rather than plebs, then you get to slag off the hordes while simultaneously appearing enlightened rather than snobbish. Winner!


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