The latest twist in the Andrew Mitchell story is particularly intriguing. The Guardian is reporting that news of the confrontation between the police and the chief whip was passed onto Downing Street by the deputy chief whip John Randall.
Now, Randall and Mitchell were known not to get on and Randall played a key part in forcing Mitchell out by indicating that he was not comfortable working under him. This latest news threatens to inject yet more poison into the Tory bloodstream. If brother whips can treat each other like this, what hope party discipline?
But one longstanding Conservative MP made the case to me just now that Randall’s behaviour is not as odd as it might seem. The MP stressed to me that, by convention, the deputy Chief Whip is actually responsible for relaying concerns about the behaviour of the chief whip to Number 10. So, by this logic, Randall would not have been doing his job if he had not passed on the information. I’m doubtful, though, this argument will persuade Mitchell’s friends who believe that their man has been very poorly treated.
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