Coffee House

The 1922 swings behind its chief whip

17 October 2012

In normal circumstances, five Tory MPs questioning the chief whip’s position at the 1922 Committee would send Tory high command into a panic. But tonight there is relief that only five MPs spoke out against Andrew Mitchell and that more than a dozen spoke in his support. I understand that Bernard Jenkin’s intervention was particularly effective, persuading at least one MP not to speak against Mitchell.

Those present say that the mood of the room was largely in favour of the chief whip remaining in post. There’s a sense that while what he did was foolish, the issue has now been hijacked by the Police Federation and the media. Some who initially thought that he should quit now believe there’s simply no good outcome. Cutting him loose would simply embolden the government’s opponents, handing them a propaganda coup.

Mitchell’s job now is to restore relations with his colleagues. I suspect that Mitchell, who is a far subtler political operator than he’s generally given credit for, will manage to do that.

More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us now.

  • Arthur Greenwood

    Why not adopt the Harry Hill protocol and “Fight!” I don’t Mitchell v Miliband (with May v Cooper on the underbill) would go many rounds.

  • @PhilKean1

    ” Hijacked by the Police and the media ”

    THE POLICE? – I said right from the start of this scandal that, if I had been the policeman concerned, and if – as was alleged – I had been given a warning which suggested that my job may be at risk, I, too, would have felt compelled to go on the offensive in order to defend my position.
    The officer concerned has had his account of the situation disputed. Therefore, it is right that the Police should be pressing this matter.

    THE MEDIA? – This is a public interest story. And like ALL public interest stories, the media will latch on for as long as it retains public interest.

    • RatherAnnoyedPleb

      I’m a policeman, and a Conservative voter. Well, I *was* Some of the comments on the Speccie just confirm what I’d often suspected – that the upper-middle class, Jag-and-golfclub set *do* view us as just plebs. I believe the cops at Downing Street not because I am one, but because Mitchell refuses to give a cogent account of what he said.

      So well done, Dave. You stole my pension. You could have taken us with you and made the Job less onerous, but it is more target-obsessed and PC than ever, run by bureaucrats. I’d have taken the financial hit with grace if that changed, but it didn’t and watching Teresa May on TV every night sticking her fingers in her ears and saying na-na-na when challenged makes me even less likely to vote Tory.

      So good luck with your PCCs (think I’m voting Tory on that?) and your officer class (looking forward to seeing Rupert running a murder investigation).

      At least Thatcher got it.

      • ButcombeMan

        I do not completely believe the cops at the gate. (I have met a lot of dishonest cops-especially in MetPol). They or one of them, did a jobsworth effort on Mitchell who had been in and out regularly on his cycle-for weeks-without dismounting or problems. They messed up. They failed to recognise him (not that this should have made a difference)

        I see the most likely scenario like this:
        Mitchell was understandably irritated, he said “I thought you were suppossed to F..g help us” (Which is true). His outburst was not especailly directed at the two Officers it was just a justifiable outpouring of anger at the total pettiness of what the Police had done.

        The plods, realising they may have overstepped the mark and fearful of a complaint, colluded over their pocket books and the log. The notes made were as robust as they could be, to protect themselves in case Mitchell complained officially.

        That is when it all went wrong.

        Criminal activity in MetPol or Federation or both, then leaked the notes/log to at least two newspapers. The media took up the hunt, particularly the Beeb. The whole affair got out of hand.

        The Officers concerned accepted the apology from Mitchell basically because they had to, (especially if-as is highly likely- they had embroidered his outburst).

        The corruption involved in the leaking has seemingly not been properly investigated, no one has been charged, the Commissioner has seemingly been sitting on his hands. So post Levinson and Elvedon, nothing in the Police Service has changed.

        MetPol, the best Police Force money can buy.

        I am not incidentally defending Mitchell, I still think him a prat.

        • RatherAnnoyedPleb

          Listen, apart from lazily slandering the Met, if what you suggest has legs *let’s investigate it* because if the cops of the gate (which should only be opened for vehicles, not a self-entitled knob-on-a-bike) are lying then they need to be called on it.

      • Mirtha Tidville

        Well said…….The Tories could always rely, like the Armed Forces, on the Police family vote in the past. Dave has managed to destroy that almost single handed..and some of you lot still think the Tories are worth a vote??

  • Chris Rose

    My concern here is the Police Federation. It seems to think it has the power remove ministers it does not like; it should think again. (I know Mitchell is not strictly a minister.)

    The police should have handled this indiscretion completely differently and should not have been engaging in a public argument for their own political ends. I think their behaviour has been deplorable.

    We don’t like our politicians to behave as Mitchell did, and a lot of people don’t like toffs, but that doesn’t mean the Police Federation can throw its weight around like the old TGWU.

    • Widmerpool

      Very well said!
      Mitchell has found an unlikely supporter in Chris Mullin who probably knows better than most some of the short comings of the Police.
      What Mullin says is worth a read its on the Telegraph website

      • Sweetpea

        Exactly! The police need to “know their place”. Thank goodess we have Ministers willing to remind them of that duty.

    • Mirtha Tidville

      What rubbish…what some of you Toryites cant stand, deep down, is ordinary people challenging those in power. The Police Federation did just that in the course of standing up for their member. As for comments such as `know their place`, even in jest just proves what I have said

    • George_Arseborne

      The point is Mitchell is a liar. If he was truthful to himself and the general public , this would have been done and dusted. he muttered again that he did not swear to the police officer during PMQ yesterday. Then why is he apologising for and why is the Muppet Prime Minister making utterances that he has apologised?

      People are not that stupid. Politicians suppose to be role model.I am afraid some are just rubbish. This again shows the poor judgement of this Prime Minister.

      Dodgy Cameron should also place his email exchange with Rebecca Brooks and Andy Coulson in the public domain as requested by Chris Bryant.

      Shambolic Government

  • Deepsnoozer

    Dumb & Dumber

  • Thomas Paine

    What a shower of muppets. Open goal for Labour till he finally goes then.

    Whatever happened to the famous Tory instinct for self-preservation?

  • Daniel Maris

    We’re right behind you Andrew! (with our rifles at eye level, trained on the back of your head).

  • alfsboy

    We are into dinner party politics where a drunken suggestion by a chum becomes party policy and a spiffing good idea.Mitchell has lied ,but at dinner partys all over Clarksonshire he will be seen as standing up against the plebs who try to steal all their riches .Well done Ed .You have kept the idiot in his position to remind us all what prats they all are.

  • James102

    As if this was not a confirmation that our political class live in an alternative universe ,where behaviour most people view as unacceptable for those holding senior office differs from our political class, Bercow decides MPs renting each other properties ,so to get around expense definitions ,can’t be revealed for “security” reasons!!

  • Daniel Maris

    Just confirming yet again how out of touch the Tories have become – or perhaps always were.

    They are saying they are happy to have someone in charge of them who can’t control their temper and ends up swearing at the Police, belittling their role in protecting the Prime Minister’s residence from terrorist attack…and possibly lying about what happened.

    Normal people find his behaviour deeply reprehensible and an extremely poor example to the public. Will the Police ever be able to prosecute anyone for swearing at them now? I sincerely doubt it, which just undermines our civil society.

    • James102

      Exactly, why can’t Cameron see this?

    • DavidDP

      Normal people know the difference between a resigning offence and something for which one only has to apologise, such as losing one’s temper.

      • TomTom

        Really ? Voters simply think they are ruled by a bunch of Spivs and Expense Fiddlers so are not surprised by anything. The System itself is corrupt and unrepresentative, simply there to serve the interests of Banks and Big Business Lobbyists. Noone expects anything but self-serving venality and complete disdain for the paying public

      • Daniel Maris

        If he had simply lost his temper that would be a matter for apology.

  • MarilynDHunter

    He remains a hollow man because he cannot recall what he thinks he might have said, and therefore there is no substance to his posturing.

    • James102

      Mitchell is not important in this exercise; it is Cameron’s judgement that is the problem.
      Mitchell will be gone in a month, if not sooner, as his lack of credibility makes him a laughingstock as Chief whip. Cameron will still be PM.

  • Austin Barry

    The Tory Party doesn’t seem to grasp that Mitchell is a toxic signifier of everything that people suspect about it: elitist, patronising, incestuous, sneering and full of its divine right to rule the squalid masses of non-public-school worker ants.

    The best thing that the Tories can do is to fire Mitchell immediately.

    • James102

      Guido is reporting that the Deputy Chief Whip John Randall has been persuaded not to resign over this issue.
      The whole debacle just shows how out of their depth the Conservative leadership is. Basically they are aged student activists with no senior experience outside politics. Rich middle aged kids playing at being politicians. Pass the spiffs and the Columbian marching powder, another decision needs to be made—not very important: just the British economy.

      • telemachus

        Contrast this with the PMQ visual impression yesterday of the sincere trio of Balls Miliband and Harman
        Miliband was wrong it is Cameron not Mitchell that is toast

        • johnfaganwilliams

          Beyond satire!

Can't find your Web ID? Click here