Andy McSmith's Diary: In office but not in power: curious case of Andrew Mitchell


Alistair Carmichael, the Scottish Secretary, regaled journalists at a press gallery lunch with amusing tales from his days as Lib Dem chief whip. When Andrew Mitchell replaced Patrick McLoughlin as Tory chief whip, he apparently announced: “This place is like a sergeants’ mess. It should be more like an officers’ mess.” Carmichael noted in passing that the Lib Dem whips’ office was always just a plain mess.

Later, when Mitchell hit the headlines after his exchange with a Downing Street copper, Carmichael, as chief whip, sent out a text to Lib Dem MPs telling them to say nothing while the pro- and anti-Mitchell factions in the Tory party fought it out. Moments later, he turned on the television and who should he see holding forth on the Mitchell saga but the party’s president, Tim Farron.

Incidentally, behind the Speaker’s Chair there is a suite of offices reserved for the Prime Minister and senior ministers. Mitchell still has his Commons office there, although he has been out of government for 17 months. It is as if he was always marked for a comeback.

Crow’s pay rise

Congratulations to the Daily Mail for managing a final gratuitous swipe at Bob Crow just hours before his death. “My £145k pay? I’m worth it, insists Crow”, ran today’s headline, inviting the reader to believe that the RMT general secretary was on a £145,000 salary. He was paid well, but not that well: the figure is the total cost of his employment, including national insurance and contributions to the pension he did not live long enough to receive. His salary was around £96,000.

Meanwhile, it was gracious of Boris Johnson to pay tribute to Mr Crow, although a word missing from the original version of his Tweet altered its intended meaning. It said that Bob Crow was “a man of character who fought tirelessly his members”.

For disservices to PR

Lord Laird, the Ulster Unionist peer suspended from the House of Lords after being secretly filmed by Panorama discussing a retainer for asking parliamentary questions, has suffered a second humiliation: he has been expelled from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. Quite a come down for the founder of John Laird Public Relations, Northern Ireland’s oldest PR company.

P as in Pompeii

The Northern Echo, in Darlington, reports receiving a charming press notice about an upcoming talk arranged by the Yorkshire Dales National Park at which Dr Barry Hoson will give a talk on The Toilets of Pompeii. The notice includes a number to ring “if you want to go”.

Home and away

A week ago, Stephen Williams, a junior local government minister, was lauding the success of the Government’s house- building programme, talking about the number of affordable homes and the speed at which they are being built.

In the Yorkshire Post I read that over the weekend an off-duty local government minister named Stephen Williams told delegates to the Liberal Democrat spring conference that he was “not a fan” of the Government’s New Homes Bonus. “I don’t think it’s an incentive, necessarily, for local authorities to give planning permission. I don’t think  it’s actually driving decision-making on the ground,” he said.

There is only one Stephen Williams.

The diaspora in action

Frank Cottrell Boyce, the screenwriter behind the triumphant London Olympics opening ceremony, was addressing a conference with the title Dissonant Voices: Faith and the Irish Diaspora at the Camden Irish Centre in north London at the weekend when he was interrupted by the unscripted appearance of five protesters in full red cabin crew attire, wheeling travel bags and ringing a bell. Some thought it was part of the show, but actually they were Irish pro-choice activists. No, the Queen did not parachute in to sort them out.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)