‘Plebgate’ MP Andrew Mitchell slates David Cameron and the Oxford Union in front of Cantabs
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former Foreign Secretary, joined in too – and the Oxford Union hasn’t even bothered trying to deny it
The Tab has waited a whole week for the Oxford Union to respond. They still haven’t. Read into that what you will.
Last week’s debate at the Cambridge Union was less about “This House Welcomes China as a Global Superpower” and more about slagging off The Other Place and its infamous alumni.
Leading the charge was Andrew Mitchell, the former international development secretary and Conservative chief whip best-known for allegedly calling a police officer a “pleb” in September 2012 and then unsuccessfully suing The Sun.
He began his speech by brushing the recent resignations aside and instead emphasised the Cambridge Union’s “wonderful reputation”.
This, he declared, “contrasts so greatly with the depraved nature of that other Union in another place.”
The Tab has attempted to contact the Oxford Union seven times since the debate, but has received no written response. It is only natural to assume that they find the allegations impossible to deny.
Given what Mr Mitchell said about David Cameron, that might be a mistake: the Oxford Union, Mitchell loudly proclaimed, is sited “adjacent to the Latin Quarter of Cowley, where men are men and pigs are nervous.”
With a clear dig at Dave, he added: “Where students behave badly in that respect, and even students who are not reading animal husbandry.”
“When I was here, Mr President, the height of our desires was a cup of hot chocolate at bedtime and a digestive biscuit.”
Moreover, the debauchery of the Oxford Union not only involves pigs, but also drugs. A former President of the Oxford Union had recently confided in Mitchell about his drug habits – “he had been ‘taking Viagra but by mistake had swallowed a whole tube of tip-ex and woken up in the morning with the most enormous correction.”
Sir Malcolm Rifkind joined in too: “I had a very difficult choice to make this evening. I was also invited to speak at the Oxford Union this very evening. I thought it was a very difficult choice until I heard from my colleague how dangerous a place Oxford would have been.”
Mr Mitchell had begun his speech by praising the Union’s decision to invite Julian Assange, simply one of many “extremely unpleasant people to speak at these dispatch boxes”. According to Mitchell, “the importance of free speech is absolute and I think you were right to invite him.”
On the actual debate motion – “This house welcomes China as a global superpower” – he offered a series of scathing remarks about the government and the country as whole.
“When I worked in government as a cabinet minister, I personally found the Chinese much easier to deal with than the Americans and I also found they were increasingly taking their role on the world stage seriously.”
In fact, he turned our common complaints about China on their head, declaring “China never sought to take back Hong Kong, as we might have done the Isle of Wight. They could have done it at any time by just turning off the water and as a result of that Britain would have had to hand back Hong Kong to the Chinese. But they didn’t do that, they stuck by the treaties, unequal as they felt that they were.
“So when it comes to human rights, we must acknowledge their progress. But also, Mr President, let us show a bit of humility because I wonder how a Chinese politician, always very polite in their conversations with us, but shedding that politeness, what they would say to a British politician if they were confronted with an attack on human rights.”
“We are a country where 75 per cent of our judges move from the cloisters of public school to the cloisters of Oxbridge to the cloisters of the inns of court without ever coming into contact with real life, upon which they then pass judgement; where only 15 per cent of judges in this country are women; where police allow a distinguished public servant to die not knowing, or his family either, that vile and odious allegations of sex crimes are a myth because the police don’t want to look as if they have screwed up.
“A country which is seriously today contemplating withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights, which we set up after the Second World War. A country which this weekend will finally recover one of its citizens locked up for thirteen years without even being charged for any crime or offence from Guantanamo. A country which has forgotten that human rights are for everyone, not just for nice, middle-class people from the royal town of Sutton Colefield and members of the Cambridge Union.”
We look forward to receiving comment from HM Government, China and the Oxford Union.