No – not this Mitchell. Andrew Mitchell, cycling and cursing Chief Whip has resigned his position after some pretty strong messages from his party colleagues.
I said he had to go in my 21 September Blog and it has taken quite a time for him to come to the same conclusion. Although we were both contestants in the Witney selection process which DC won, I don’t think I have ever met Andrew Mitchell. However, he seems to have a reputation among Conservative colleagues that has made him few friends and it is his own Party that has finally brought him down.
He went to Rugby and Jesus College, Cambridge, reading history and served as the President of the Cambridge Union. In between school, where he apparently gained the nick name of “thrasher” and university, he served in the Royal Tank Regiment.
He had a spell working in the real world – if Lazard investment bank can be classified as the real world!
I have made my position quite clear and I stand by it. His behaviour to people employed to protect him was inexcusable. He wanted the police to open those huge gates at the entrance to Downing Street and, presumably, to lower the rising barrier to enable him to ride his bicycle through. The alternative was to dismount and to wheel his bicycle through the smaller pedestrian gate. I wonder if his real problem was having to queue with members of the public wishing to use the same gate? I suspect this may have been his motivation.
I can’t defend Andrew Mitchell’s conduct but I can worry about a growing culture that denigrates an individual for having a public school education or coming from a wealthy background or speaking with a “posh” accent or dozens of other middle class attributes. In the US, a citizen who sees someone driving an expensive car will think “I might aspire to one of those one day if I work hard and am lucky”. In the UK, we seem to be submitting increasingly to class warfare where it is a sin to be wealthy; it is a sin to minimise your tax liability by legal means; it is a sin to aspire to improve one’s lot. However, there seems to be one exception to this envious streak. If you are a footballer or pop star, there is nothing wrong with earning huge sums but the rules are different for business people, bankers and politicians. I think we have lost our way a bit.