Hardly a surprise to find out that this man is a ‘nasty’ piece of work as a career choice. No wonder he was chosen to be the chief whip. I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t get rewarded by Cameron, rather than being punished, as a way of sending a message to the Party’s rebellious back benchers.
From today’s Daily Telegraph – POLITICS
How I felt the full force of chief whip’s rage, by volunteer, 21
By Steven Swinford
THE Conservative Chief Whip accused of insulting a Downing Street police officer flew into a rage with a young party volunteer who was critical of an aid trip to Africa, it was claimed last night.
Lucy Kinder said she received an angry telephone call from Andrew Mitchell when, as a 21 year-old, she drafted a newspaper article about a Conservative Party trip to teach English to Rwandan teachers in August 2009.
She claimed that Mr Mitchell accused her of betraying his trust before contacting her father and saying that he “did not blame” party members for threatening his daughter with violence.
Miss Kinder, now a trainee journalist with The Telegraph, was invited on Project Umubano after doing work experience in Mr Mitchell’s private office. She was one of 100 volunteers who paid up to £2,000 each to go on the trip, led by a delegation of senior Tory MPs including Mr Mitchell, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown and Nick Hurd. While not a Conservative Party member herself, she wanted to improve the lives of Rwandans and told organisers that she planned to write an article about her experience.
On arrival, Miss Kinder said the group faced an uphill struggle. She claimed that they were given just one day’s training and the Rwandan teachers did not receive an allowance from the country’s education ministry as promised to cover their food and travel. This meant that they had to walk up to 10 miles each morning to attend class. The ministry eventually gave them a lump sum, but only after the course had ended, she said. In an article submitted to The Independent newspaper, Miss Kinder wrote: “I found myself in a class of 45 who could barely speak a word of English. Progress was frustrating and the ministry of education did little to make this easier. It made a mockery of our fortnight. We have been instructing teachers who were hungry, tired and disillusioned.”
She praised the volunteers’ enthusiasm and the Conservative Party for the “impressive feat” of attracting so many to Rwanda. Mr Mitchell, however, was unimpressed. After learning of the draft article, he telephoned Miss Kinder at around midnight when she was on a coach journey to Zanzibar.
“He was furious,” she said. “He accused me of going behind his back and betraying the Conservative Party. He told me he couldn’t believe I had written such a damaging article and that he would make sure it wouldn’t be published. I tried to tell him it was a first draft and could be changed, but he wouldn’t listen.”
Mr Mitchell then allegedly called Miss Kinder’s father, with whom he had studied at Cambridge. “He said, ‘You know your daughter is writing this story? I can’t believe you would let her do that,’ said Miss Kinder. “He was really, really angry. He then sent him a text which said, ‘They are threatening her with physical violence and I can’t say I blame them.’”
Miss Kinder, now 25, said she felt intimidated and was forced to leave the group on her own when they arrived in Zanzibar for a week’s break.
A friend of Mr Mitchell said: “The volunteer was the daughter of one of his oldest friends. Yes, Andrew was angry but what he said was quite obviously figurative and he does not believe it could have been taken in any other way.”
A Conservative Party official said: “Hundreds of MPs and activists have worked on Project Umubano under Andrew Mitchell and this is the only time anyone has ever complained. There are two sides to every story, suffice to say that a lot of people felt very let down by this volunteer’s behaviour.”
Mitchell might be nasty but he fits the Tory mould – I can’t think of anyone in the Cabinet that I would invite to a dinner party.
Interesting views from Gary Taylor in Spalding Guardian – doubt they will come to anything though – too easy to cut staff & services before councillors!
It’s actually down to the boundary commission to determine the size of wards, based on the number of electors to be represented, so whatever elected members say, it’s buearacracy that determines the outcome. I’m not clear why this issue has come to the fore again, but is also in line with the leader’s thinking.
My personal view is somewhat different, but only based on the practicality of trying to compare a county council division to a district council ward. Yes, county councillors do indeed represent two wards, covered by four district councillors, single-handed. However, county councillors don’t deal,with the same nitty gritty issues district councillors do. When’s the last time a county councillor spent time and energy dealing with a planning issue about the extension the next door neighbour wants? In fact, when’s the last time a district councillor dealt with any form of neighbour dispute?
Then there’s the issue of campaigning, not just at election time, but also when there is a local issue that might need a public meeting to be organising. Covering a two member ward to deliver newsletters or leaflets is hard work. I can’t even begin to think how you cover an area twice the size, single-handed. During an election campaign one would need to do that delivery route at least four or five times and maybe even more times if there’s a real fight for the job.
I agree that there are too many passengers when it comes to elected members and that there may well be scope to reduce their numbers down to those willing to make the effort required to make a difference. however, simply culling numbers is likely to have the wrong result, unless a number of other measures are put in place to improve the quality of those left representing the public.