The news this evening from the High Court libel action involving Andrew Mitchell is that today his barrister, James Price QC argued that Mr Mitchell’s consistency about what happened on that day was “powerful evidence” in his favour, backed by many unchallenged statements that he was not a “superior snob”. The suggestion is that he couldn’t have patronised and looked down on the Police Officers at the gates of Downing Street as alleged, because he is a man who has made substantial attempts to meet the needs of people in poverty. This is pure nonsense. This argument comes hot on the heels of one of Mr Mitchells friends speaking up on his behalf. ‘St Bob’ undoubtedly captured and inspired a generation of people to engage with poverty reduction when he launched Band Aid in 1984. However attempting to revive his prophetic message 30 years later, almost word for word has sadly shown how acutely the patronising elements of the original ‘Do They Know’ have moved from the background to the foreground and taken up centre stage. If Geldof had shown some humility when African critics spoke with so much clarity over BA30, one could more easily have understood and empathised with his desire to bring a sharp focus onto Ebola and the failure of our nation to respond to a problem that is as old as Band Aid itself. However his patronisingly repetitive Bollocks tirade on TV sadly showed that like his chum Mitchell, he can patronise people he doesn’t understand on the same scale as Live Aid celebrated music of the mid 1980’s.
All of us can make a difference with our time and money in campaigns to reduce poverty, and the wealthy and powerful can individually achieve far more than those of us who do not have their deep pockets or powerful contacts. However it is perfectly possible to do enormous acts of goodness and yet despise people and their opinions or actions just as strongly. That is exactly what Geldof appears to have exhibited only too clearly in the last few days. Like most people in the UK I have no idea what Andrew Mitchell said or why he spoke as he did. However if his Counsel believe that introducing some of his good works as an argument to proves he could not have patronised individuals who got in his way shows that like their client they live in a different universe to the rest of us.