The first Prime Minister’s Questions after the conference season is more important than most: the House and the press gallery are looking to see who has come back with a spring in their step. But today’s session has an added element to it: the Andrew Mitchell factor.
Labour attempted to have a go at the chief whip at Home Office questions on Monday. But with the Chamber only half full, it fell a bit flat. Today, though, the House will be packed and Ed Miliband’s party will be out for blood.
I expect Mitchell himself will deal with it quite resolutely. Friends say that the iron has entered his soul and that he’s convinced he’s the victim of a media witch hunt based on an inaccurate police version of events which is now being exploited by the Police Federation for political ends.
Over the next few weeks, I expect that Miliband will try to use Mitchell as the Prime Minister used David Miliband in the months after the Labour leadership election. Every time Cameron appears to be getting the better of things, Miliband will try to hit back with a reference to ‘gate-gate’.
One thing Cameron must avoid is any reference to Labour ‘preaching one nation but practising class war’. That would make things far too easy for Miliband.