andrew mitchell

David Cameron: Schoolboy Prime Minister

One of the criticisms most frequently levelled at David Cameron and the little cabal of ministers he surrounds himself with is that the overwhelming majority are from wealthy, public school backgrounds. I’m not sure that this is a real issue with the Conservative frontbench — though the decisions that they have made in office, favouring people of their own circumstances far above the vulnerable and needy definitely are.

But as the ideological wheels have been falling off the Cameroon bandwagon on a seemingly daily basis, what strikes me as most alarming is that the politicians running Britain seem to act like they are still a gang of over-privileged schoolboys.

It’s been something I’ve thought for a long time. The crowded House of Commons at Prime Minister’s Questions on a Wednesday afternoon has something of an air of a rowdy classroom, and the braying MPs certainly don’t help the overall image.

But looking at the actions of government ministers, and it seems that in their own heads they’ve never actually left school. Andrew Mitchell, swearing like a yob at the police. George Osborne, sitting in first class without a ticket and thinking he should get away with it because he’s head boy.

And then, a couple of weeks ago, when Chris Bryant asked about texts and emails David Cameron had refused to release to the Leveson Inquiry, we were treated to this bizarre display:

Which basically amounts to David Cameron saying:

I’m not answering his question because he’s mean to me!

Mental. Leaving aside that Bryant had apologised to the House, and what Cameron was looking for was some extra grovelling  to him personally, there’s something very distasteful about someone holding high public office flat-out refusing to answer a question from an elected representative simply because he doesn’t like him.

And not only that, but yesterday I saw this story on BBC News:

A man who shouted ‘no public sector cuts’ at David Cameron during a speech in Glasgow has been ordered to carry out 100 hours of community service.

He shouted at the Prime Minister. He shouted at him, and he got 100 hours of community service. I expect there are a lot of MPs feeling very worried at the moment, in case David Cameron should run to teacher with the refrain “He shouted at me!” and point at them.

Honestly, this is absurd. Our government is made up of schoolboys. And not the competent, high-achieving “gifted and talented” students. No, this lot have already proved themselves incompetent.

I’m afraid, people of Britain, we’re being governed by the Inbetweeners.

What they don’t tell you about political blogging

Now this is the story all about how my day got flipped, turned upside down. And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you how I ended zipping across north London in a cab with the left-wing political blogosphere’s finest.

As a bit of background, the Chancellor of the Exchequer — George Osborne — was on a train from Wilmslow to London Euston. And he had a bit of an adventure, did our Gideon. I’ll let the original tweets from ITV journalist Rachel Townsend, who was on the same train, tell the story:

Oh dear! Osborne doesn’t want to have to sit with the plebs!

We did hear reports after that that Osborne’s aid was checking to see if they could get off before London, but sadly…

So the Chancellor had been caught out trying to blag a free upgrade to first class, and was on a non-stop train into Euston station in north London. North London, where the majority of major left-wing blogs in the country are based. North London where I was, working out of Political Scrapbook‘s offices.


So that is how I ended up in a taxi along with Scrapbook editor Laurence Durnan, newest recruit Dulcie Lee, and LabourList supremo Mark Ferguson. And the rest of the political press was also heading towards Euston.

We got there to find Harry Cole (of Guido Fawkes fame) toting a video camera, and had a bit of a stand off with both the station PR and the police about whether we were going to be able to film or photograph the disembarking minister. Sadly, when the train arrived the police closed off the gates to the platform, and smuggled him out the side.

We didn’t get a picture or video of Osborne. The one from the top of this post comes courtesy of ITV. What we did do is race across north London at a blinding pace, run all around Euston station, and get to see a very much The Thick of It story from the other side. No one ever told me political blogging involved so much running!

And then, of course, I got home to find that the Chief Whip, Andrew “f**king plebs” Mitchell, had resigned — which cements this as “the day all the news happened“.

UPDATE: It seems Osborne has form for this sort of thing:

82% of Telegraph readers think Andrew Mitchell should go

In an online poll, more than 82% of Telegraph readers think that Andrew Mitchell should be sacked from his government job. And really who can disagree, after what he said to policemen doing their jobs, now allowing him take his bicycle through a Downing Street gate:

Open these gates, I’m telling you – I’m telling you, I’m the chief whip and I’m coming through these gates. Best you learn your f***ing place. You don’t run this f***ing government. You’re f***ing plebs.

If that doesn’t sound like an arrogant, over-privileged posh boy throwing a tantrum, I’m not sure what is. The police are neither above criticism nor without flaws, but in a week that two police officers were killed in the course of their duty, such an attitude from a member of Her Majesty’s Government is disgusting.

Conservative leading light Boris Johnson and David Davis have previously said that people swearing at police should face arrest. Anyone who didn’t carry a red briefcase almost certainly would have done. And what was David Cameron’s response:

What Andrew Mitchell said and what he did was not appropriate, it was wrong and it’s right he’s apologised. He’s apologised to me and but much more importantly, he’s apologised thoroughly to the police.

Which, to me, sounds like barely so much as a slap on the wrist. No arrest, no sanctions and no sacking. A simple apology, and everything is just rosy again.

One rule for everyone else, another for Andrew Mitchell and co. If anything, this sounds like David Cameron is telling the British public to  “learn your f***ing place, you f***ing plebs!