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Why I think that Andrew Mitchell might, just might, become a Tory leadership contender when a vacancy occurs

December 23rd, 2012

The narrative is running strongly in his favour

Yesterday afternoon and evening I reinvested some of the money I’d made on two Andrew Mitchell bets from the autumn on him becoming the next Tory leader. I got prices up to 70/1 on Betfair.

I’d already made a bit on him in the cabinet exit betting when he was switched in the September re-shuffle to Chief Whip – a post that is not formally a member of the cabinet. Then my 9/4 wager on him standing aside from that new position in the wake of the Plebgate affair came good.

The thinking behind the party leadership bets is based simply on the narrative that is now emerging. Just read what his close friend and former hot favourite for the Tory leadership in 2005, David Davis, says about Mitchell in today’s Sunday Telegraph.

“Andrew showed some real ‘four in the morning’ courage when he decided to fight to clear his name. After having his reputation shredded, his career destroyed and his every word disbelieved, most people would have succumbed to despair.

It’s hard to think of a tougher test of a man’s mettle than this”.

That presents a picture of a man who might just be what the party wants when Dave steps aside.

Interestingly the language coming out of the Davis-Mitchell camp is deliberately not anti-police – rather this is all about the Police Federation. It is not hard to envisage, as events unfold, the ex-chief whip being portrayed in an even more positive light.

Mitchell’s close links with David Davis, the man defeated for the leadership by David Cameron in December 2005, won’t do him any harm at all especially as the Plebgate affair is raising questions about the PM. Mitchell ran the Davis campaign seven years ago. Maybe Davis could return the favour?

When I floated the “Mitchell for leader” notion on Twitter yesterday one of the responses was that he is a man who is very much disliked within parts of the party.

That may be the case but will being ready to “be disliked” be a disqualification in the post-Cameron party? It could be a major thing in his favour.

Mike Smithson

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