I got through four Opposition Leaders in my time as Leader of Haringey Council. One subsequently stood unsuccessfully for the London Assembly, another became an Alderman of the City of London Corporation, and the third lapsed into obscurity as a junior LibDem minister in the Coalition government.
The fourth was Andrew Mitchell.After he stood down from Haringey Council, he went on to have a glittering career as a barrister, becoming a QC and head of his own Chambers. I understand he is now the leading legal expert on asset confiscation and forfeiture. He was an effective and challenging (from my point of view) Leader of the Opposition and could usually be relied on to highlight substantive policy issues and (painfully) any – and it did happen sometimes – weaknesses there might be in the argument I was putting forward.
He was also unfailingly courteous and polite.
From which you will gather he is not the same Andrew Mitchell as the new Government Chief Whip and star of PlebGate
However, it might have been easy to get confused.
And so – a little bird tells me – twenty years ago, Andrew “Pleb” Mitchell summoned Andrew “Haringey” Mitchell to see him in the House of Commons to tell him that the Conservative Party was too small for there to be two Andrew Mitchell’s in it.
The solution was straightforward said Andrew “Pleb” Mitchell, you (ie Andrew “Haringey” Mitchell) must change your name to avoid this confusion.
So Pleb’s arrogance was there even then. It is not something he has acquired with high office – he was always like that.