Profile: Andrew 'Thrasher' Mitchell the ruthless disciplinarian

 

In the end Andrew Mitchell simply had too many enemies and too few friends to survive.

Ever since his outburst against a Downing Street policeman a month ago Tory MPs have been regaling each other with their own "Thrasher" Mitchell stories.

Tales such as the occasion he demanded a better table in a Westminster restaurant at the expense of another MP who had reserved the spot. Or the time when, as campaign manager for David Davis's failed Tory leadership bid, he tried to browbeat rather than persuade MPs to vote for his man.

Mr Mitchell was educated at Rugby school, where he is said to have earned the nickname "thrasher" because of his "stern disciplinarian" tendencies. It was a reputation he relished.

He studied at Cambridge, before joining the Army and serving briefly as a UN peacekeeper in the 1970s. He then forged a lucrative career in banking before becoming MP for Gedling, Nottinghamshire, in 1987. He became vice-chairman of the Tory Party under John Major, and was a government whip during the notorious rebellion over the Maastricht Treaty.

He was promoted to social security minister, but lost his seat in the Labour landslide of 1997. Within four years he had made it back to Westminster, representing Sutton Coldfield.

Appointed International Development Secretary after the election in 2010 he was committed to enshrining in law an obligation on the UK to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on overseas aid, a move that did not endear him to some Tory backbenchers.

Nor was he always popular with the officials he worked with. On his arrival in the department he is said to have told his Permanent Secretary that he expected male officials to wear jackets and ties at all times and to address him as "Secretary of State".

When told that, owing to the nature of the department's work, formal clothes were not always practical, he insisted that at the very least ties should be worn at meetings. Despite his diktats, Mr Mitchell himself was said to sometimes hold meetings in his office without any shoes and still wearing his bicycle clips.

Mr Mitchell's problems were compounded by the nature of the job he was promoted to in the reshuffle. As Chief Whip he was responsible for party discipline and many in his party resented being disciplined by him.

When the former whip Michael Fabricant caused mischief this week by questioning whether Mr Mitchell should survive, one wag was prompted to say: "Surely the Chief Whip should be disciplining him."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence