Sketch: We were all rooting for him: go on, Andrew, blow your top

This parliamentary committee angered Andrew Mitchell - but he kept a lid on it

Share
Related Topics

Andrew Mitchell was back. In his first Commons speaking role since his short-lived appointment to the job of Chief Whip – a period when quite a lot happened to him, like briefly becoming the most notorious cyclist in the Western world after Lance Armstrong – he was finally up before the beaks.

Well not exactly. He had been invited by the International Development committee to talk about the decision, on his last day as Secretary of State, to grant Rwanda's government £16m in budget support despite complaints that it was backing a murderous group of rebels in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This promised a rare, real-time glimpse of Mitchell dealing with the authorities, if that's not too fanciful a description of yesterday's exercise in parliamentary accountability. And which of us there can say we did not secretly fantasise that Mitchell would suddenly lose it and at least blurt out to the committee, in recognition of its support for Britain's aid programme but in vexation at its persistent questioning, what he has admitted he told the police that evening: “I thought you guys were supposed to f***ing help us”?

In that respect he disappointed. He had the highest respect for the committee, he assured it. But beneath his polite exterior he was clearly cross about suggestions that he had rushed through a decision to sock Rwanda half the cash due to it while two apparently more fastidious donor countries, Germany and the Netherlands, had refused to do so. It had been a “profoundly consultative” decision, he said, with the Foreign Office and No 10 fully “in the loop”. And so far from being “out on a limb”, Britain was actually in the “middle of the pack” by granting the first tranche of cash, since the US and the EU had continued to disburse aid.

But there was a wrinkle that the session failed to iron out, despite strenuous efforts by Labour's Richard Burden to do so. A 31 August letter that Mitchell sent to David Cameron said: “Reporting shows that practical support for the [DRC rebel group] M23 has now ended.” Yet Mitchell seemed far from sure – despite repeated UN and NGO claims to the contrary – that there had been any such support.

This was somehow reminiscent of the old mid- 20th century argument between those eminent philosophers Bertrand Russell and Peter Strawson about the statement “The King of France is bald”. If there is no King of France, Russell said, then the proposition is untrue. No, Strawson said, it isn't untrue – just meaningless.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month  

General Election 2015: Politics is the messy art of compromise, unpopular as it may be

David Blunkett
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012  

Vote Tory and you’re voting for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer

Mark Steel
General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'