“If you get 100 points for shooting one policewoman and 200 points for shooting two policewomen, how many do you get for shooting a lawyer?”
With these words, Derbyshire Conservative councillor David Stephenson signed his political career’s death warrant.
It was clear that he was referring to the deaths of PCs Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone in Tameside, and for Stephenson it was a sick joke too far.
But he would have got away with it if it had not been heard by the wife of serving police sergeant Jason Farrar, who telephoned the councillor to complain and was told to “go away, you silly man”.
In response, the officer contacted Derbyshire police federation, MP Jessica Lee and Erewash Borough Council leader Chris Corbett, who immediately removed Stephenson from the council executive and from the list of approved Conservative candidates, so he will not be allowed to stand for re-election as a Conservative.
That’s a bit different from what happened with Andrew Mitchell, isn’t it?
But just take a look at the Conservative Party’s record, and you’ll see that Stephenson is the exception that proves the rule.
We all know about Mitchell’s comments now – in fact, thanks to some of our renowned national newspapers, we can all read the police officer’s report. I don’t think there’s any doubt that he told the constable to “learn your place” and called him a “pleb”.
But he was only continuing a tradition of insulting the common citizenry of this nation that has been alive and well throughout this Parliament.
Only last month we heard about the new book Britannia Unchained, by right-wingers Priti Patel, Elizabeth Truss, Dominic Raab, Chris Skidmore, and Kwasi Kwarteng, all members of the Free Enterprise Group of Tory MPs. In it, they argue that British workers are “among the worst idlers in the world”, that the UK “rewards laziness” and “too many people in Britain prefer a lie-in to hard work”. Britannia Unchained? It seems more likely that they want to chain us to our work-stations!
And what about Philip Davies, the Tory MP who said the disabled should be “allowed” to work for half the minimum wage?
Too many voters were misled by that lie in the run-up to the 2010 election, but then, it’s easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled (according to Mark Twain). It’s time for us all to admit that there’s no such thing as compassionate Conservatism.
We all need to accept that Mr Mitchell’s remarks to the Downing Street policeman are representative of the way the majority of Conservatives see the British population.
David Cameron cannot sack Andrew Mitchell because, if he does, he’ll have to sack half his party membership.