Andrew Mitchell MP

11 Jun 2013 06:34:54

The Mitchell investigation has involved 30 police officers, cost almost £150,000, taken eight months...and got nowhere

By Paul Goodman
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Screen shot 2013-06-10 at 23.29.23Andrew Mitchell's campaign for restoration to the Cabinet went up a gear yesterday afternoon as senior Conservative and Labour MPs piled into the Met Commissioner:

Richard Ottoway (Croydon South): "We have a situation where police from the Met appear to have fabricated evidence against a Cabinet Minister; the Met Commissioner is put in charge of the investigation and admits to discussing the case with journalists; in breach of his own rules, he fails to keep a note of the discussion; and, six months later, we do not even have a report. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Commissioner has a lot of questions to answer?"

Tom Watson (West Bromwich East):  "After a terribly bruising encounter at the hands of the media, the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr  Mitchell) attempted to clear his name in the press. It now seems apparent that he was the victim of media spin at the highest level of the Metropolitan police. Does the Minister understand that this case is particularly important not because the wronged party was a Member of Parliament but because it could happen to any one of our constituents who do not have the vehicle to put things right?"

Continue reading "The Mitchell investigation has involved 30 police officers, cost almost £150,000, taken eight months...and got nowhere" »

24 Mar 2013 09:00:11

The Sunday Times reports that "AT LEAST" ten police officers conspired to falsely discredit Andrew Mitchell

By Tim Montgomerie
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Sti013gn24-1-329x437The Sunday Times (£) leads this morning with news that "AT LEAST" ten police officers were involved in a conspiracy to smear Andrew Mitchell.

The newspaper reports that the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is now extending its inquiry to uncover the full extent of that conspiracy:

"The 10 officers allegedly involved are from four police forces. Several are accused of fabricating allegations about what Mitchell said during the incident or making false statements to the media afterwards. Others are accused of leaking details of the case to the media."

If The Sunday Times' report is correct, The Sun, in particular, will have some apologising to do. Mr Mitchell is also likely to return to the frontbench but, I'm told, not the frontline. Something like a powerful Cabinet Office job is more likely.

Jon Gaunt, the man reported to be part of the Police Federation's campaign against Andrew Mitchell, announced yesterday that he was joining UKIP.

20 Feb 2013 11:01:32

Andrew Mitchell pops up in the F.T. But he should really be popping up in Cabinet

By Paul Goodman
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Screen shot 2013-02-20 at 10.49.50Andrew Mitchell's piece in today's Financial Times about Britain and the Europe will do nothing to quell rumours that David Cameron will appoint him as an EU Commissioner: I suspect that the former International Development Secretary wrote it with a twinkle in his eye.  But either way, the article is a reminder that Mitchell is very much around and about, and it raises - as it was surely meant to - memories of his past.  That's to say, of "PlebGate" (or, as I will always think of it, "PoliceGate"), and questions about his future.

It is almost four months to the day since Mitchell's resignation.  Since then, four people have been arrested about the claims which forced it - including three police officers.  There is a misconduct investigation into four other officers, three of whom have been placed on restricted duties.  An account of the original incident sent in an e-mail which eventually reached Downing Street turned out to be untrue.  All in all, there is every reason to believe that Mitchell was unjustly removed from the Cabinet.

Since this is so, it follows that he should be returned to it - as I wrote immediately after the first Dispatches programme into his case.  The restoration of Mitchell will admittedly create a headache for David Cameron.  He carried out a medium-scale Cabinet reshuffle last summer, and it isn't obvious who might be asked to leave this year.  The one member who is very likely to go - Sir George Young - will leave a vacancy that Mitchell shouldn't fill.  I was never a fan of the plan to make my old Select Committee colleague Chief Whip.

Since he is an intelligent and purposeful politician (as well as being more sensitive than he likes to let on), what Mitchell would do best is run a Department again.  His experience in government points him towards the international development/foreign affairs/defence/Northern Ireland nexus, but the details are less important than the principle.  Which is that Cameron should confirm that Mitchell will indeed be recalled to Cabinet at the next reshuffle.  This doesn't necessarily require a Prime Ministerial announcement; a briefing from Downing Street would be enough.

When should this happen?  Mitchell's supporters will argue that it should have taken place already.  Others might point to the conclusion of any trial.  (It is claimed that charges are imminent.)  That in turn raises timing problems about whether a trial would take place before or after this year's reshuffle: one will surely take place, even if it is fairly small-scale.  My view is if charges are brought Number 10 could reasonably brief that Mitchell would be returned to Cabinet: after all, it's evident that he has been the victim of an injustice.

22 Dec 2012 11:12:39

Conservatives dominate the top 20 most mentioned politicians of 2012

By Matthew Barrett
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The annual newspaper index report by Hanover Communications into media coverage of MPs shows that 12 of the top 20 most-mentioned politicians are Conservatives. The index, which measures newspaper coverage over the last year, shows few Labour frontbenchers have media profiles, with only Ed Balls and Ed Miliband featuring in the list.

I list below the top twenty politicians and the number of mentions they received:

  • David Cameron - 18384
  • George Osborne - 9531
  • Ed Miliband - 6211
  • Nick Clegg - 6155
  • Boris Johnson - 3320
  • Michael Gove - 2844
  • Tony Blair - 2694
  • Gordon Brown - 2387
  • Ed Balls - 2201
  • Vincent Cable - 2061
  • Theresa May - 1743
  • Andrew Lansley - 1621
  • William Hague - 1580
  • Jeremy Hunt - 1525
  • John Major - 960
  • Ken Livingstone - 861
  • Andrew Mitchell - 858
  • Nadine Dorries - 857
  • Iain Duncan Smith - 857
  • Ed Davey - 823

Continue reading "Conservatives dominate the top 20 most mentioned politicians of 2012" »

5 Dec 2012 11:09:15

70 Tory MPs vote to repeal the Human Rights Act

By Matthew Barrett
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BACON RICHARDYesterday in Parliament, Richard Bacon, a Conservative backbencher, tried to introduce a Bill which would repeal the Human Rights Act 1998. One of Mr Bacon's lines of argument was that the legal requirement for Ministers to amend legislation - without a vote in Parliament - in order to comply with European human rights legislation - is "fundamentally undemocratic":

"Under section 10, a Minister of the Crown may make such amendments to primary legislation as are considered necessary to enable the incompatibility to be removed by the simple expedient of making an order. In effect, because the accepted practice is that the United Kingdom observes its international obligations, a supranational court can impose its will against ours. In my view this is fundamentally undemocratic."

Mr Bacon also compellingly argued that the controversial social issues that judges often like to get involved in should be decided by "elected representatives and not by unelected judges":

"[T]here is no point in belonging to a club if one is not prepared to obey its rules. The solution is therefore not to defy judgments of the Court, but rather to remove the power of the Court over us. ... Judges do not have access to a tablet of stone not available to the rest of us which enables them to discern what our people need better than we can possibly do as their elected, fallible, corrigible representatives. There is no set of values that are so universally agreed that we can appeal to them as a useful final arbiter. In the end they will always be shown up as either uselessly vague or controversially specific. Questions of major social policy, whether on abortion, capital punishment, the right to bear firearms or workers rights, should ultimately be decided by elected representatives and not by unelected judges."

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17 Oct 2012 20:28:21

Mitchell: This evening's '22 meeting "was divided 50/50"

By Paul Goodman
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Michael Crick tweeted earlier this evening: "Four MPs at 1922 Committee critical of Andrew Mitchell - Andrew Percy, James Duddridge, Ann Main, Sarah Wollaston. 12-15 backed him."

I am told that the difference of view was more 50-50 than three or four to one. (Memories don't always tally, as I pointed out earlier this week in the context of the row itself.)

Robert Buckland, Bernard Jenkin, Edward Leigh, Penny Mordaunt, and Nicholas Soames were apparently supportive of Mr Mitchell (and Philip Davies rather critical).

I'm also informed that there is no mood in the '22 Executive for the Chief Whip to go now, though some of its members think that he should have departed after the original incident.

My guess earlier this week was that Mr Mitchell would attend the '22, and that any criticism of him would be muted.

For better or worse, he wasn't there - I presume it was decided that MPs present should be able to speak freely - and it can't fairly be claimed that they were constrained in what they said.

So we have the worst outcome for Cameron and the best outcome for Miliband: a wounded Conservative Chief Whip.  I don't think Mr Mitchell should go, but he is in a bad way.

21.45pm Update A very senior source insists that the Crick tally was correct. I am recording his view to reinforce the point that, as I note above, "memories don't always tally".


15 Oct 2012 15:14:45

Will there be a "showdown" between Andrew Mitchell and the '22 this week?

By Paul Goodman
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Screen shot 2012-10-15 at 15.06.19Ring, ring.  Ring, ring.  It's a senior source from the 1922 Committee's Executive on the phone, denouncing the Telegraph's story about a "showdown" between the '22 and Andrew Mitchell.  The paper reports that the '22 "will meet to discuss any concerns they have over Mr Mitchell, and other issues, on Wednesday. One senior MP said that a delegation from the committee would then meet with Mr Mitchell to relay details from the meeting".

My source points out that there is a meeting of the '22 - in other words, of all Tory backbenchers - every Wednesday when the Commons is sitting, and that it is is followed by a further meeting of the '22's officers and the Chief Whip.  In other words, my source argues, there will be no special meeting of the '22 to discuss Mr Mitchell's plight: indeed, it may not be discussed at all.  So there may be a showdown, and there may not be a showdown.

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21 Sep 2012 10:10:47

Andrew Mitchell apologises for his altercation with a Downing St police officer

By Peter Hoskin
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Sun-front-orig-1-329x437Just what had gotten into Andrew Mitchell? Even if the details of this morning's Sun story aren't fully accurate, it still sounds as though he was very rude to a police officer — which is bad enough. But to be so on Downing St, within potential earshot of members of the public, adds another level of folly to his misdemeanour. "Best you learn your f***ing place. You don’t run this f***ing government," the report has him saying to an officer who wouldn't open the gates, “You’re f***ing plebs.”

Mitchell has sinced released a statement, which both apologises for what went on and denies the Sun's account of it:

"On Wednesday night I attempted to leave Downing Street via the main gate, something I have been allowed to do many times before.

I was told that I was not allowed to leave that way.

While I do not accept that I used any of the words that have been reported, I accept I did not treat the police with the respect they deserve.

I have seen the supervising Sergeant and apologised, and will also apologise to the police officer involved."

For its part, No.10 has said that David Cameron is "glad that Andrew Mitchell has apologised" — and is probably keener to regard this is a one-off, an unthinking and rash outburst, rather than taking it any further. But they'll still be smarting at the story, not least because it comes at a time of police cuts and police disgruntlement. And as for the Chief Whip, perhaps it's a good time to remind him of Paul's recent advice: "Andrew Mitchell must deploy his charm, not wield the cane".

5 Sep 2012 20:21:19

Full post-reshuffle list of Ministers

By Matthew Barrett
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Following on from the last few days' rolling blogs, I have below a final list of the MPs (and Baroness Warsi) appointed as Ministers for each department. I have put new appointments in bold.

Cabinet Office

  • Minister for the Cabinet Office, Paymaster General – Rt Hon Francis Maude MP
  • Minister for Government Policy – Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP
  • Minister of State – Rt Hon David Laws MP (jointly with the Department for Education)
  • Parliamentary Secretary – Nick Hurd MP
  • Parliamentary Secretary – Chloe Smith MP

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

  • Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills; and President of the Board of Trade – Rt Hon Dr Vincent Cable MP
  • Minister of State (Universities and Science) – Rt Hon David Willetts MP
  • Minister of State – Michael Fallon MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Jo Swinson MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Matthew Hancock MP (jointly
  • with the Department for Education)

Department for Communities and Local Government

  • Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government – Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP
  • Senior Minister of State (Faith and Communities) – Rt Hon Baroness Warsi (jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
  • Minister of State (Housing) – Mark Prisk MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Planning) - Nicholas Boles MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Rt Hon Don Foster MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Brandon Lewis MP

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3 Apr 2012 08:02:14

What is the 2020 group? Matthew Barrett profiles the Tory MPs trying to renew the Cameron project

By Matthew Barrett
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Of the Parliamentary groupings founded by MPs after the 2010 general election, the 2020 group is perhaps the least understood. Channel 4's Michael Crick and the FT (£) covered its launch during conference last year. Those two reports implied the 2020 group was a centre-left grouping pre-occupied with "countering the rise of the right". The 2020 is not about bashing the right. It's about upholding the ideas and optimism of the Cameron leadership era, and ensuring they can help inspire a majority Conservative government. In this profile, I will take a closer look at the 2020, its aims, role, and plans for the future.

Origins of the Group:


The 2020 was founded in Autumn 2011 by Greg Barker, the Minister of State for Climate Change, Nadhim Zahawi (Stratford-upon-Avon), and George Freeman (Mid Norfolk), with Claire Perry (Devizes) joining soon after. It was launched at conference last year.

Members of the group (see below) are drawn from across the ideological spectrum (one member told me the 2020 tries to "reject the stale orthodoxies and dogmas of the old left versus right split in the Tory Party"), but members are united in wanting to develop conservatism and what the Party might look like in 2020. Founder George Freeman said: "The 2020 was set up as a forum to help the new Conservative generation define a modern progressive Conservatism for our times. What is the DNA that unites this diverse new generation? What are the long term social, economic, and technological changes that will shape our world? By tackling these and related questions we hope to help Conservatives define and dominate the radical centre ground of British politics."

Fellow founder Greg Barker explained another aspect of 2020's mission: "There's a strong strain of optimism that ran through the early Cameron message, and that message of change, hope and optimism, sometimes because of austerity, gets overshadowed, and we see ourselves as the guardians of that message".

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9 Dec 2011 06:34:36

Andrew Mitchell, Damian Green and Graham Brady join the Feltham and Heston by-election campaign

By Matthew Barrett
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IMG_9169As the Feltham and Heston by-election reaches its later stages - it is set to take place next Thursday - senior Conservative MPs have been paying visits to the constituency. In the last few days, the Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, the Minister of State for Immigration, Damian Green, the Chairman of the 1922 Committee, Graham Brady, and the Prime Minister, have all been campaigning in the seat, to try and help Cllr Mark Bowen

IMG_9181At present, the Labour majority stands at 4,658, a majority that Mark Bowen, who was the candidate in 2005 and 2010, has managed to reduce by almost two-thirds, down from 12,657 in 2001. 

I-images_adp_PM_DHL-1161We have some pictures (see right, click to expand), and Bob Blackman MP has another frontline report: 

"One week out from polling day in Feltham and Heston the campaign is shifting up a gear. We have run a strong campaign from the off and with the Prime Minister, the International Development Secretary and the Immigration Minister in the constituency today, as well as dozens of MPs, councillors and activists, today has been a high visibility day. The PM got a great reception at a Cameron Direct at the local DHL depot. It’s clear from feedback on the ground that our local candidate is well respected as a hard-working councillor. We are listening to local people’s concerns. Our key messages of controlling immigration, taking the necessary action to reduce the deficit and reforming welfare to end Labour’s something for nothing culture are really resonating with people on the doorstep. As we enter the final week we will be fighting hard for every vote."

Update 2.15pm: Dr Andrew Murrison MP has sent us this account of his experience campaigning in the seat:

"I’ve just been canvassing in Feltham and Heston with the candidate Cllr Mark Bowen and was there all day last Thursday. I have rarely met a candidate who is so well plugged in to the local community. In such a complex and diverse seat, being comprehensively tuned in is a challenge and one that the other candidates do not appear to have mastered. Being able to get by in a number of languages relevant to the area is a distinct advantage and a real plus on the doorstep. Mark definitely deserves to win."


3 Nov 2011 08:18:23

Bill Gates addresses 1922 Committee and Conservative Friends of International Development

By Tim Montgomerie
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A large number of Conservative MPs attended a meeting of Conservative Friends of International Development last night. This new group has a Facebook page and aims to build support for the work that Andrew Mitchell is doing at the Department for International Development. The core membership of the group has been provided by the many Tory members who have volunteered for Project Umubano over the years.


Baroness (Anne) Jenkin, Bill Gates and Andrew Mitchell at yesterday evening's Conservative Friends of International Development meeting. Photo kindly supplied by Andrew Parsons.

Last night's event was addressed by Bill Gates. At the meeting the Microsoft founder, who has now become one of the world's leading philanthropists and also addressed the 1922 Committee, praised David Cameron and Mr Mitchell as "world leaders" in fighting global poverty. Only last week, in Australia, the Prime Minister reaffirmed his commitment to the issue by vowing to eradicate polio "once and for all":

"Britain is also the first ever G20 country to set out a clear plan to hit the UN 0.7 per cent aid target from 2013. I know in the long term we have to help countries not just by giving them money; no country has ever pulled itself out of poverty through aid alone. But few ideas are more powerful than the eradication of human disease. Just as people now live free from the fear of smallpox, so a polio-free world is within our grasp. What is missing is the political will to see it through. So in this week that marked World Polio Day, let us resolve to finish the job and let us eradicate polio once and for all.”

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7 Sep 2010 17:34:25

Andrew Mitchell praises British people for £47m of donations to Pakistan Floods Appeal

Mr Mitchell, the Secretary of State for International Development, made a statement to the Commons earlier that included these words:

“The floods in Pakistan are extraordinary; and demand an extraordinary response. I am proud that the UK has been at the forefront of the international community’s response to the disaster and was the first major country to come to Pakistan’s support in significant scale in its hour of need. In addition to the UK taxpayer’s contribution, the British people have once again demonstrated their compassion and generosity.

I am sure the House will wish to join me in commending the magnificent response from the British public who have committed more than £47 million to the Disaster Emergency Committee Appeal. We continue to urge people to give, and to give generously, to that appeal.

The UK and Pakistan are bound together by bonds of history and family which underline our support for Pakistan in good times and bad. This bond will remain strong over the coming months and years, as we work together to help Pakistan recover from this unprecedented catastrophe.”

26 Mar 2009 10:42:11

What is the best way to tackle AIDS in Africa?

Nigel Evans MP It was International Development questions yesterday.

Former Shadow Cabinet member Nigel Evans (right) posed a question on AIDS in Africa. This issue has been given prominence recently following the Pope's assertion that condoms could make the AIDS crisis worse.

Mr Evans asked:

"Antiretroviral drugs are rightly being made more affordable and generally more available, thanks to the support of the United Kingdom, the United States of America and organisations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Education is vital important, and we should be focusing some of our attention on prevention. What discussions has the Minister held with his opposite numbers about ensuring that education is made available so that the message about how people can avoid getting HIV in the first place can be communicated, and particularly about trucking routes in some countries, such as India, and in Africa?

Mr. Lewis: The hon. Gentleman makes a very important point. The new American Administration’s recent announcement about removing some of the ideological and philosophical barriers that prevented us from engaging internationally on prevention and education presents an opportunity for the world community to come together and make a greater impact. We have announced an unprecedented commitment of £1 billion for the global fund and £6 billion to strengthen health systems, but the hon. Gentleman is right to say that we must look innovatively and imaginatively—perhaps through community leaders, faith group networks, informal networks and peer influence—at educating populations in every country. We have to use all the tools at our disposal to ensure that we get across the strongest conceivable message about HIV/AIDS. I also believe that the South Africans’ change in policy will significantly help us in Africa."

Gary Streeter has held the International Development brief in the past. He asked a bold question on the same subject:

"The Minister, to his credit, is known for his outspokenness. Will he make sure that his international counterparts recognise that confronting the dreadful disease that is HIV/AIDS is not just about access to drugs and condoms, important though those things are? If we are to tackle this disease, we must confront, head-on, the true cause: men behaving in a sexually promiscuous manner in too many countries throughout Africa and elsewhere. Will he impress upon his counterparts the fact that issues of public awareness and education are vital if we are to get under the skin of this disease?

Mr. Lewis: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said that I was not outspoken any longer—I rarely disagree with him, and I am not going to start now.

The hon. Gentleman rightly raises the important issue of the role of women in society, and highlights the fact that the way in which men in many developing countries see relationships is a major part of the problem. In that sense, we need strong political leadership to make clear the appropriate role of women in society and to empower women in local communities. We must make it clear that we give them the opportunity to fight for their rights. We also need a very clear zero-tolerance approach to violence against women to be enshrined in developing countries’ legislation."

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19 Jan 2009 10:51:36

Written answers round-up

There are a number of intriguing written answers in the latest edition of Hansard.

Shoreham & East Worthing MP (and Shadow Minister for Children) Tim Loughton uncovered some diplomatic buckpassing by the Government, through a question to the Olympics Minister:

"To ask the Minister for the Olympics if she will invite the Dalai Lama to attend the London 2012 Olympics. [245235]

Tessa Jowell: Guests and dignitaries are invited to attend the Olympic Games by the International Olympic Committee and participating National Olympic Committees, and the Paralympic Games by the International Paralympic Committee and participating National Paralympic Committees."

Mid-Bedfordshire MP Nadine Dorries asked about fishing quotas:

"To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proposals he has to make changes to the fishing quota system; and if he will make a statement. [247636]

Huw Irranca-Davies: At present, I have no proposals to change the current quota management system.

The UK is actively engaged with the European Commission's current activities to reform the Common Fisheries Policy, which will include consideration of the quota and fisheries access management systems. I have publicly signalled my intention that the UK should play a leading role in shaping this reform and the future of the CFP."

Entering a negotiation with no ideas whatsoever is a novel tactic.

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