Andrew Mitchell, the government’s chief whip, has resigned this evening following a tiresome four weeks after a Downing Street skirmish during which he allegedly called two police officers ‘f***ing plebs’.
Despite his admittance of an out-of-character bout of swearing in an apology towards the officers involved, the plebgate saga just refused to fizzle out and resulted in Mitchell resigning from his post after growing pressure from within the Tory ranks and, of course, the class warriors in Opposition.
In his resignation letter Mitchell said: ‘It is with enormous regret – not least because of the tremendous support and loyalty you have shown me during recent weeks – that I am writing to resign as your chief whip.’
Mitchell then continued to deny the allegations in his letter to David Cameron: ‘I have made clear to you – and I give you my categorical assurance again – that I did not, never have and never would call a police officer a “pleb” or a “moron” or used any of the other pejorative descriptions attributed to me. The offending comment and the reason for my apology to the police was my parting remark “I thought you guys were supposed to f***ing help us”. It was obviously wrong of me to use such bad language and I am very sorry about it and grateful to the police officer for accepting my apology.’
Mitchell’s resignation arrives on the same day that Chancellor George Osborne was involved in another gaffe in which he allegedly travelled in a first-class carriage despite holding a standard rail ticket.
The key theme in regards to Mitchell’s resignation is the notion of victory that will sound from both sides of the political spectrum.
The Left, as always, will claim a moral victory in forcing out a snarling, elitist Tory toff from government and those on the Right, those with a modicum sense at least, will also be rubbing their hands in jubilation. A silly, brash loss of normally tepid demeanour should never have got so out-of-hand yet it resulted in the tarnishing of an otherwise faultless political career. For it to grind on for over four weeks did supporters of the Coalition no favours.
Mitchell’s resignation was always going to happen; the class-ridden basis of his alleged insult agitated the embers of a media keen to fill copy space and therefore was never going to go away. Couple this with the insistence of the Muesli Mafia and the Guardianistas to use any trick available to paint this incident as an indication of the Tory party’s inner psyche and we have a man with a position that is simply untenable.
We on the centre-right of politics should also be happy; not in that a man’s life’s work has been frittered away but because the Mitchell saga was bad for our image. Although the incident should have blown over in lieu of something of actual newsworthiness, it was sharpened into a point and thrusted into our credibility of being a government of the many and not the few. Mitchell had to go.
Another key point to make is that I’m now wondering what Labour are going to do next. If you happened to catch PMQs this week you’d have noticed that the Opposition’s sole attack on an improving Coalition was the plebgate saga. With positive employment figures this week and an economy returning to growth this Monday the Left will have little to whine about. That can only be a good thing.
With this annoyance out of the way we can finally concentrate on the issues that matter. The economy is expected to return to growth in the figures next week, those fantastic job figures have also, no doubt, buoyed the idea that Britain is on the right track and this long-winded saga has finally met its end.
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