First, it was mega-rich Gina Rinehart quoted as describing her fellow Australians as a bunch of lazy, drunk, envious whingers.
Then American right-wing presidential hopeful Mitt Romney with his 47% remark: "My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
More recently it was British former banker and conservative MP and Government Whip Andrew Mitchell's turn. According to the official logs of police officers in Downing Street, after asking Mitchell to dismount his bike and use the pedestrian gate, instead of the vehicles-only one, this is what happened:
"There were several members of public present as is the norm opposite the pedestrian gate and as we neared it, Mr Mitchell said: 'Best you learn your fucking place ... you don't run this fucking government ... You're fucking plebs.'Unfortunately for PM David Cameron, who is trying to improve the Tories' chronically bad image, the incident received wide publicity: "After a dressing-down from Mr Cameron, Mr Mitchell apologised."
"The members of public looked visibly shocked and I was somewhat taken aback by the language used and the view expressed by a senior government official. I cannot say if this statement was aimed at me individually, or the officers present or the police service as a whole.
"I warned Mr Mitchell that he should not swear, and if he continued to do so I would have no option but to arrest him under the Public Order Act, saying 'Please don't swear at me Sir. If you continue to I will have no option but to arrest you under the public order act'.
"Mr Mitchell was then silent and left saying 'you haven't heard the last of this' as he cycled off."
A few years ago, all of this would have been pretty much unthinkable. Nowadays, it's becoming commonplace.
Commenting on the Mitchell affair, The Daily Telegraph (UK) columnist Janet Daley (who "moved to Britain (and to the Right) in 1965 where she spent nearly twenty years in academic life before becoming a political commentator") says:
"Time to tell the truth about the 'nasty' party: as someone who has defended the Conservatives (or at least defended their arguments) for so many years, it is time to come clean. (...) The Andrew Mitchell Debacle is not an uncharacteristic, deranged and inexplicable lapse. It is just an extreme example of the kind of attitude with which many people who circulate in this world are familiar".Apparently, Daley thinks Tories should try changing their ways.
Australian arch-conservative columnist Gerard Henderson, at the other hand, argues that incidents like these are being deliberately magnified by the sinister and manipulative "left-liberal" contemporary Western media, suggesting that a more ideologically adequate media would treat things in a more favourable way.
And referring specifically to Romney's remark, Henderson says:
"Sure, Romney's message was expressed in a clumsy manner. Moreover, he forgot the modern rule of politics that no event can ever be regarded as truly confidential. Yet Romney's essential problem is that he said what should not be said. According to, that is, the left-liberal consensus that prevails in much of the contemporary Western media".I can't speak for the Western media, of course, but I for one thank Rinehart, Romney and Mitchell for expressing their true views with honesty.
No need to apologize (as Mitchell was forced to do), to act nice (as Daley seems to ask), or to mince words and be discreet (as Henderson apparently recommends). Speak your "inconvenient truths" freely.