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Old Joe’s Almanac: Andrew Mitchell and Liam Byrne

Old Joe’s Almanac: Andrew Mitchell and Liam Byrne

🕔31.Dec 2013

A double header to end the year on. This time we focus on the future of two fallen stars, and their dogged persistence to fight back.

Since that fateful day in September 2012, Andrew Mitchell’s life has been dominated by a short exchange with police officers at the gates of Downing Street. In short – Plebgate. Arguably, no other story over the last year has persistently dogged Mitchell, and the Coalition Government, as much as the controversy over that short Latin word.

With lawsuits abounding – Mitchell is suing The Sun for libel, the police-officer involved is also counter-suing Mitchell over the allegation that he deliberately falsified evidence, while separately the investigation into the incident is ongoing – that short word will continue to cast a shadow over the former chief whip into the 2014.

It seems like a hard road ahead for Mitchell. That said, he has always maintained he never uttered the toxic pejorative, and his persistence to prove his innocence on that matter may payoff eventually as he still has allies in Government.

Meanwhile, Liam Byrne is seemingly determined to remain a player despite a bitter demotion. Sacked as Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, he agreed to take on the more junior role as Shadow Universities Minister.

Seen as part of a ‘Blairite cull’ of the front benches by Ed Miliband, Byrne nevertheless chose to remain a part of Miliband’s team rather than return to the backbenches. Some may describe this as a cynical move – the ambitious Byrne is simply aware that Miliband is secure in his position at the head of the Labour Party and is likely to walk into Downing Street in 2015 and therefore Byrne’s only root to promotion.

But Byrne has proven to be an influential figure in the Labour centre-ground, and the Universities portfolio may offer fertile ground for the thinking man to carve a comeback in the Labour Party against unpopular Coalition policies in Higher Education.

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About Author

Benjamin Mulvihill

Benjamin Mulvihill

Research Assistant at @rjfpa and blogger for @ChamberlainFile.

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