The saga surrounding Andrew Mitchell continues to rumble on in the Westminster Village as Labour continues to apply pressure to the new Chief Whip, and the coalition continues to stand shoulder to shoulder with a man who has not only shown himself to be bad tempered but also conforming to the public’s image of a Tory party that is arrogant and disconnected. This view of the Tories risks the success of the Cameroon project of moving the Conservatives away from their “nasty party” image to a party that could govern for all classes.
On his way out of Downing Street, Mr Mitchell was asked by the police who guard his own, along with the Prime Minister and other government members’ lives, to dismount his bicycle and leave Downing Street by the pedestrian, rather than the main, gate. Mr Mitchell is then said to have taken offence at the request, calling the officers “plebs” and swearing profusely. Whilst Mr Mitchell denied his use of the word “plebs”, along with other language that was claimed to have been used in The Sun newspaper, the country, twice as likely to believe a police officer as a politician, simply did not believe him. Mr Mitchell did however apologise, presumably in the hope that the event would slip into the past and be forgotten, but evidence since his apology has reinforced his wrongdoing, and Labour should continue to push the case for Mr Mitchell to lose his job.
Particularly offended by Mitchell’s comments were the police force themselves. Following the murders of two female police officers by just a few days, Mitchell’s comments were particularly harrowing and distasteful. Indeed, some police officers not only rejected Mitchell’s apology, and called for his resignation, but also claimed that David Cameron’s public apology to the police force was disingenuous. The truth is that the public feel that Mitchell was not only wrong on the day, but exposes the real heart of the Tory party, a bunch of ex-public schoolboys who feel that they’re born to rule and who have little or no understanding of the heartfelt positivity that the public feels towards their police force.
Whether in a bad mood or not, Mitchell’s outburst seems to show a similar Tory feeling to that shown by David Cameron in the Commons and the smarmy George Osborne the Chancellor. The public feel that the Tory party is out of touch with normal people. Not only is the cabinet packed with multi-millionaires, not only have they been shown to be in connivance with illegally operated corporations such as the Murdoch empire, not only have they cut taxes for the few whilst retracting the vital services that serve the many, now they attack one of the bastions of the United Kingdom in the form of the police force. Time and time again, the Tory party has proved its personal critic, Nadine Dorries, right. The party is led by arrogant posh boys and everything they do exposes the falsity of their words. Cameron’s apology, Mitchell’s apology, Osborne using non-existent deficit-reduction policies to cover up a mass privatisation and break down of the state, all smack of nasty party Toryism. The problem for Cameron is that this image, if it becomes the prevailing image of his party, will undo the work of the Cameroon project.
Cameron’s biggest mistake was immediately backing Mitchell, his second was not sacking him when the police logbook evidence was leaked to The Sun, his third will be not sacking him at all. Mitchell must go. He has abused the police force of this country, a well-respected institution and shown himself to be arrogant and detached from society. If Cameron fails to sack Mitchell, he will be, and should be, tarred with the same brush. Ed Miliband and the Labour Party will rightly continue to press this point harming the Tory party. Perhaps even more worrying is Boris Johnson’s less than warm reaction, in which he has backed the police over Mr Mitchell. If this was to become a turning-point in Cameron’s premiership, and the Cameroon project, this would only be in Johnson’s interests in any future leadership contest. Mr Mitchell has exposed the decrepit face behind the Cameroon mask of the Tory Party, and if the prime minister wants the mask to be replaced, he must remove Mr Mitchell first.