Lord Norman Tebbit Attacks Tories Over Andrew Mitchell Affair

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David Cameron faced some heavyweight criticism from Conservative grandee Lord Tebbit on Saturday night in the aftermath of Andrew Mitchell's resignation as chief whip.

After the blow of finally losing Mitchell having previously backed him to stay, the Prime Minister was said to have allowed "this dog of a coalition Government" to look incompetent.

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Is Tebbit barking up the wrong tree?

Lord Tebbit's criticism came amid reports that Mitchell decided to quit after younger Tory MPs from the 2010 intake made clear their hostility when parliament returned this week.

Writing in The Observer, Lord Tebbit - a Cabinet minister in Margaret Thatcher's government - said: "This dog of a coalition government has let itself be given a bad name and now anybody can beat it.

"It has let itself be called a government of unfeeling toffs. Past governments have had far more real Tory toffs: prime ministers Alec Douglas-Home and Harold Macmillan, or even in Thatcher's day, Whitelaw, Soames, Hailsham, Carrington, Gowrie, Joseph, Avon, Trenchard and plenty more, without incurring similar abuse."

He added: "The abiding sin of the government is not that some ministers are rich, but that it seems unable to manage its affairs competently."

Mitchell finally fell on his sword on Friday night after admitting that the row over his confrontation with Downing Street police made his position untenable.

After weeks of criticism and speculation over his future, Mitchell said it was not fair to put his colleagues and family through such "damaging" stories any longer.

He insisted in a letter to the Prime Minister that he had not referred to an officer on the gate in Downing Street as either a "pleb" or a "moron" but acknowledged delivering, after being told he could not ride his bike through the main gates, the parting line: "I thought you guys were supposed to f****** help us."

He was swiftly replaced as chief whip by Sir George Young on Friday night.

At a union rally in Hyde Park on Saturday, Labour leader Ed Miliband said the Government remained on the wrong path despite Mitchell's resignation.

"Andrew Mitchell may finally have resigned, but the culture of two nations runs right across this government.

"They cut taxes for millionaires, and raise taxes for ordinary families. They leave young people out of work while the bonuses at the banks carry on.

"They even have a Chancellor of the Exchequer who tries to travel first class on a standard class ticket.

"It's one rule for those at the top and another rule for everybody else: everybody like you who plays their part and does the right thing."

In his resignation letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Mitchell said: "I have made clear to you - and I give you my categorical assurance again - that I did not, never have, and never would call a police officer a 'pleb' or a 'moron' or used any of the other pejorative descriptions attributed to me.

"The offending comment and the reason for my apology to the police was my parting remark 'I thought you guys were supposed to f****** help us'. It was obviously wrong of me to use such bad language and I am very sorry about it and grateful to the police officer for accepting my apology."

Accepting his resignation, Cameron said he was "sorry" to receive Mitchell's letter but added: "I understand why you have reached the conclusion that you have, and why you have decided to resign from the Government.

"I regret that this has become necessary, and am very grateful for all you have done, both in Government and in Opposition - as well as for the kind words in your letter."