ANDREW MITCHELL HAS HIS WORK CUT-OUT IF HE IS TO CONVINCE PARTY AND PEOPLE
The Prime Minister vociferously supported Andrew Mitchell at PMQs yesterday, as the Tory Chief-Whip faced another scathing examination from Labour MPs. The ferocity of the attack played into Mitchell’s hands; as it compelled Tory MPs who had hitherto been ambivalent towards his salvation, to rally together in rousing support of the Sutton-Coldfield MP (despite the 1922 Committee later providing a far more negative assessment of his actions in private). However, no matter how vocal the support he receives from his party in the main chamber - which claims he wasn’t behaving in an elitist and pompous manner in the much famed ‘Plebgate’ incident – his voting record does little to dispel the notion that Mitchell is an antiquated brand of Tory – the type that is more than capable of the odd alarmingly-flippant indiscretion, such as referring to serving Police-Officers as ‘plebs’.
Since 2001, Mitchell has only ever voted very-strongly on issues that represent the uber-traditional Tory agenda. Despite voting across a myriad of topics, it is no surprise that the Rubgy-educated former Royal Tank Regiment Officer, has only ever voted very-strongly on concerns of the strictly upper-class, such as: voting very strongly against the ban on fox hunting, against a more proportional voting system for MPs and against removing hereditary-peers for the House of Lords. If Mitchell claims not to be elitist, his voting record suggests otherwise, with his propensity to voice his intentions - very-strongly - manifesting itself only on expressly class-based subjects. On each of the three instances mentioned above, the principal motivation for voting has been the preservation of entitlement for the traditional land-owning classes. This is not to say that he hasn’t voted on other issues – some of which will support a liberal agenda – but never as strongly as he does on matters pertaining to the maintenance of the traditional class-system.
To his credit, Mitchell has worked extensively with youths in his constituency of Sutton Coldfield, and has a wealth of experience working in developing countries. Mitchell has worked in Africa for a number of years, beginning with his work at investment bank Lazard. His experiences in the continent lead him to become Minister for International Development, first in the shadow cabinet and subsequently in the Coalition government.
However, there is no doubt some speculation on whether Mitchell’s work in Africa is honourably intentioned – like much of the work that British companies do there – or if it is more akin to wanton post-colonial plundering, the like of which Mark Thatcher can claim to be a veteran. Rather worryingly, he has been a strong supporter of the CDC (formerly the Commonwealth Development Cooperation), who attracted widespread criticism following Private Eye’s disinterment of their shady dealings back in 2010. Mitchell has advocated widening CDC’s role, encouraging it to engage in higher-risk investments, even though accusations of CDC investing in over-valued companies in Nigeria are yet to be sufficiently explained away. However, aside from his treatment of CDC, it can be said that he has been a sensible (though not progressive) Minister for International Development; supporting the rights of oppressed people in Burma and taking a cautious yet pragmatic approach to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
But to critics on the Labour benches and on the Coalition benches alike, the real Andrew Mitchell is the man who said the words contained in the Police report published by the Daily Telegraph. Large parts of his voting record add fuel to this fire, as does his inability to bring to punish the widely discredited actions of the gloriously-imperialist CDC, in his role as Minister for International Development. His work is cut-out if he is convince the rest of the government and the country as to his egalitarian credentials, and following a sombre condemnation by members of the Tory 1922 Committee last night, it is unlikely that the ‘Plebgate’ affair will conveniently disappear. The fire that Andrew Mitchell saw his PM firmly douse at PMQs yesterday - could just as easily re-ignite in an instant.