Never mind the Chief Whip's insults, what about the basket?

Andrew Mitchell is the only the latest Tory to give cyclists a bad name

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The Independent Online

The new series of The Thick Of It has so far failed to come up with anything as hilarious as Pastygate, and the real-life Coalition comedy continued this week, its latest episode featuring guest star Andrew Mitchell, the Chief Whip. Mitchell allegedly called a policeman at Downing Street a "pleb" and told him he'd "best learn [his] f***ing place", after the officer failed to open the large gate at the end of the street for Mitchell and his bicycle, forcing him to exit through the public side-gate instead.

Mitchell was later made to call the insulted copper, Hugh Abbott-like, to apologise. The job of Chief Whip must involve so much yelling at Tory MPs that he can no longer suppress the urge in public.

Jobsworth bobbies, like traffic wardens, frequently raise the hackles of ordinary folk. But Mitchell isn't ordinary folk; he's the Chief Whip – perhaps the only reason he wasn't arrested.

The capital's two-wheeled commuters are already unfairly thought of as inconsiderate, despite having to navigate white vans and Addison Lee cabs on a daily basis. For one of the country's most senior cyclists to start shouting abuse at uniformed police will only make things worse.

It's like when Boris was caught running a red light, or when Dave turned out to have a car following him with a spare pair of shoes. The Conservatives are remarkably adept at giving cyclists a bad name.

As if his behaviour wasn't unfortunate enough, Mitchell's bike is also fitted with a somewhat girly wicker basket, apt to send Government papers swirling down Whitehall should a gust of wind get up. Panniers, Mr Mitchell; get yourself some panniers.