Plebgate: Mitchell looks doomed as Telegraph calls for his head
'The walking, talking embodiment of everything with which Cameron least wants his party associated'
THE Daily Telegraph has taken the highly unusual step this morning of calling on Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell to quit the government over 'plebgate'.
Mitchell is due to meet the police to sound them out on his outburst against police officers for refusing to open the main gates to Downing Street for his bike. It was supposed to be a "clear the air" meeting but it is turning into a "clear your desk" appointment.
The Mole reported earlier this week that some were out to give Mitchell the push. As the noticeboard for the Tory Party, the Telegraph rarely makes such a move without having the support of at least some senior figures in the Conservative hierarchy.
The paper clearly believes it needs to force Cameron's hand with a thundering denouncement in today's editorial: "The problem is not simply that the Chief Whip is now a laughing stock, the inevitable subject of mockery at Prime Minister's Questions. It is that he is a walking, talking embodiment of everything with which David Cameron would least like his party to be associated...
"If he stays, Mr Mitchell can do little good, and much damage. For the sake of his party, he should do the decent thing and stand down."
The only problem is that the name emerging as a possible replacement is Francis 'Jerry Can' Maude, the Cabinet office minister who was ridiculed in the self-inflicted petrol shortage panic by suggesting motorists should fill up their jerry cans. It sounded like Bertie Wooster giving advice to Jeeves.
Replacing one out-of-touch Tory with another might just convince the public that whatever Cameron said in his conference speech on Wednesday, the Tories are the part of Lord Snooty and his pals.
At the risk of ruining their careers, the Mole suggests Cameron should opt for a decent backbencher such as Richard Ottaway, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, or Northern Ireland minister Mike Penning, the former fireman wheeled out to correct Maude's jerry can gaffe. Both men quietly command respect on the backbenches rather than fear or - worse - utter contempt.