Forgive Andrew Mitchell for Christmas

Although Guru takes an instant dislike to anybody who’s not embarrassed to identify themselves as a Tory, he was amazed to read this morning that a YouGov poll found that 49% of people think Andrew Mitchell would have been right to resign on the basis of having said “I thought you lot were supposed to f**king help us”.

What world are these people living in?! Firstly, as it seems to be commonly trotted out to support this view, this is not swearing “at” somebody. Swearing at somebody is calling them a swear word or using a swear word to emphasise the negative word you are directing at them. Guru has been on the wrong end of a “you’re swearing at me sir” from a train service revenue protection officer, and can attest that this disingenuous phrase is already well-worn by authority. People use swear words all the time – the fact that public officials are prone to come over all “you’re swearing at me” when somebody swears benignly and is otherwise acting entirely without aggression, is something that should be bemoaned by the public, not used to support calls for somebody to resign.

But, more simply, what Andrew Mitchell said is not approaching a sackable offence or even a disciplinary offence! It’s somebody getting a bit annoyed about being inconvenienced at the end of a long day. We’re all allowed to get a bit annoyed at other people if we express it in a (just about) harmless way – in fact, it’s not even a matter of being allowed, it’s just inevitable and all we can do is apologise and try to restrict such outbursts. Clearly, in this case, although it wasn’t the nicest thing he could have said, it was unlikely to cause great offence.

So, Guru’s Christmas message is that we should all forgive Andrew Mitchell for his minor outburst or commit ourselves to lives of suppressed inner rage. And if in the course of your work somebody swears while talking to you and it offends you, bloody well grow up. People swear all the time and you probably do too.