Coffee House

Appointment of new chief whip Andrew Mitchell sends clear signal to Tory rebels

3 September 2012

3 September 2012

Andrew Mitchell’s appointment as chief whip sends out several messages to Conservative MPs. First, the decision to move a high-performing secretary of state to the whips office and the news that several of the best and the brightest of the new intake will be joining him there is meant to show MPs that Cameron is showing the whips office, the conduit for their concerns, respect.

But with this comes a toughening up of discipline. The Prime Minister is bringing in a former army officer and veteran of the Maastricht whips office. One imagines that Conservative MPs will be rather more nervous about an interview without coffee with the chief whip now that Mitchell is in post. As Mitchell once said about being a whip, ‘if you’re job is to secure the passage of the slaughter of the first born bill your job is to think up good reasons why there are too many first born.’

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But Cameron is also saying to Tory MPs that he’s moving their way. The previous chief Patrick McLoughlin was from the left of the party — he used to call the Thatcherite ‘no turning back group’ the ‘don’t turn your back group’ — Mitchell is from the right. It’s expected that Mitchell will be a more vigorous advocate of the right’s concerns in Number 10.

One irony of this appointment is that Cameron beat Mitchell in a selection battle in Witney ahead of the 2001 election. One of the crucial things that swung it Cameron’s way: a vigorous campaign by Tory Eurosceptics highlighting Mitchell’s role as a Maastricht whip.


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  • Peter Onslow

    Foreign Aid mad Andrew Mitchel wants to try finding a bed in
    a UK hospice for a terminally ill relative before buzzing off to Rwanda to see
    if they need even more Foreign Aid!

  • DGStuart

    Mitchell is from the ‘Right’ of the Tory party is he? I’d hate to see what sort of pansy arsed EU loving, taxpayer’s money to foreign kleptocrats wanker is ‘Left wing’ then.

    • ArchiePonsonby

      Not a fan, then, DGS?

      • DGStuart

        Not really. I rank him up there

        • ArchiePonsonby

          Apologies. That was my feeble attempt at satire!

  • ArchiePonsonby

    Mitchell is the prize knob of the DfID who was best pleased to chuck our hard-borrowed dosh at the Third World and gloated over the fact in the media. Well, I for one hope that the Tory backbenchers give him the same treatment that was meted out to his fat bastard of a predecessor!

  • Bruce, UK

    “a high-performing secretary of state”

    Ah yes, what passes for achievement in the Bubble; the incredibly difficult task of spending someone else’s money without let or hindrance. The onerous task of being a WAG is the only “career” that can compare. Unless, of course, it is the high-performing regurgitation of the Cameron Line that is becoming the hallmark of the Coffee House.

  • Alan Eastwood

    Well singing The Vicar of Bray certainly had an effect on this political butterfly. David Davies’s right hand man in his leadership bid but quickly dropped him to follow Cameron into government throwing tax payers money around India, China,Pakistan and other African countries.
    But he has a nasty side and that is why he has been appointed Chief Whip. It will fail of course because the ‘rebels’ have the upper hand. And following todays changes there will be more rebels, of that you can be certain.

  • Radford_NG

    4 Sept. c.7.15am……The Spec. & it’s Life/style supplement has been claiming the new entry of Con. M.P.s are young & independent-minded and not to be bullied by the Whips,whose power is lessened by coalition ,which leaves less government positions to buy members off.

  • Daniel Maris

    So – this is it then…the Government has just about declared itself bankrupt. No ideas.
    An exercise in three years of futility, which may or may not be extended for a further two years.

    Great, thanks guys.

  • Daniel Maris

    The Chief Whip? Oh well this is the era of Fifty Shades of Grey I suppose. He’s grey enough.

  • Archimedes

    ‘if you’re job is to secure the passage of the slaughter of the first born bill your job is to think up good reasons

    Naturally, what Mr. Mitchell meant to say was “your job”: “you’re job” being more appropriate if you were, perhaps, speaking to the co-founder of Apple, which is, admittedly, quite unlikely at this point.

  • Frank P

    Mitchell has just spent the last two years dispensing largesse, with our children’s and grand-children’s taxes, on third world shit-holes. He can now whip, by means of a Derek Nimmo impersonation, what’s left of the Tory Party into defeat at the next election. Poetic justice in a way. And to think I voted for the fuckers.

  • Jules

    Mitchell is from the right? Huh? My God, even the French socialists are to the right of Mitchell, even they don’t advocate increasing International Aid by 30% in the longest recession and biggest debt crisis Europe has ever experienced.

    It doesn’t matter who the whip is, it could be Jesus Christ himself, the only thing that keeps MP’s in line is fear. Cameron did not win an election in 2010 and he won’t win in 2015. Therefore his MP’s don’t respect him and will think nothing of rebelling. So James quit with the Cameroon propaganda please!

  • Heartless etc.,

    It’s over. One-Term ‘Dave’, the H2B, becomes a reality.

    So many hopes. So little achieved.

  • anyfool

    Mitchell makes Mother Teresa look like a snarling rottweiler.

  • anyfool

    Mitchell makes Mother Teresa look like a snarling rottweiler.

  • chudsmania

    I also think the author should substitute ‘Tory rebels’ for ‘The conservative wing of the conservative party’

  • Douglas Carter

    Chief Whip?
    You mean ‘the man more important than the entire electorate’ (according to the Prime Minister)
    You know what? I bet he discovers that the entire electorate are more important.
    But it will be too late for him by then.

  • David Lindsay

    A whip during Maastricht? A fat lot of good he was, then.

  • Paul

    Well, when a new Tory rebellion ensues, probably over yet another capitulation to Cleggy and LibDimmery, those called in can say to Mitchell: “it is right” – the somewhat lazy and complacent response he made on Question Time when tackled about not cutting Foreign Aid.

  • Voice from the South West

    James what on earth are you talking about. Mitchell is NOT
    from the right! Do your research – he is a wet and describes himself as a
    ‘classic one nation Tory’. Worse, he has a condescending bed side manner which
    will alienate MPs and only serve to fuel the rebelliousness of Tory MPs. McLoughlin
    is far more right wing than Mitchell – and although he may have been a bit of a
    bruiser he was also a far more emollient character than Mitchell. Cameron will
    regret this appointment.

  • Voice from the South West

    James what on earth are you talking about. Mitchell is NOT
    from the right! Do your research – he is a wet and describes himself as a
    ‘classic one nation Tory’. Worse, he has a condescending bed side manner which
    will alienate MPs and only serve to fuel the rebelliousness of Tory MPs. McLoughlin
    is far more right wing than Mitchell – and although he may have been a bit of a
    bruiser he was also a far more emollient character than Mitchell. Cameron will
    regret this appointment.

    • Douglas Carter

      Irrelevant, wet and left wing?
      The perfect Cameron ally, surely?

    • ScaryBiscuits

      James hasn’t got a clue. He just regurgitates what the spin doctors tell him – in this case the No10 spin that this is about placating the right – fearing that if he doesn’t they’ll stop feeding him. He isn’t a journalist, just a cut-n-paste monkey, although sometimes – when there isn’t time for an email from the government – he does take dictation.

      • Daniel Maris

        Well, not nice, but really we’ve had enough nonsense, it’s time the Spectator began doing some serious reporting on the nation, not making itself a sort of political Tatler.

        • ArchiePonsonby

          Or as my other half has it; “Tatler makes Hello! magazine seem like The Economist!”

    • Daniel Maris

      And the Great British Public will immediately suss him out as a “complete plonker”, not to put too fine a point on it.

      It’s terrible really – the more the Spectator promotes these froth and nonsense stories, the more one is convinced that huge, seismic events are taking place which the Spectator along with the rest of the media are more or less ignoring.

      It’s really of no consequence who the Chief Whip is if you are bringing in 500,000 people year from abroad, if your population is due to increase a fifth in a few short years, if no houses are being built for the people, if our schools are becoming crowded slums, if our health service is under extreme pressure, if our economy is in reverse…

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