I thought the Andrew Mitchell affair was a storm in a teacup, and was thoroughly irritated that it has been the lead item on the news for the last few weeks, displaced only by Jimmy Savile. Chris Mullin’s take on it is that the real story is of the Police Federation showing their muscle.
Accusing those stoking the row of making a “mountain out of a molehill,” Mr Mullin described the Police Federation, which has repeatedly called for Mr Mitchell to be sacked, as a “bunch of head-bangers”.
Describing his own run-in with the Federation, which, he said, had sought to have him removed as chairman of the Commons’ Home Affairs Select Committee when he raised questions about the probity of the police disciplinary system, he said: “The Federation is a bully.
“It has a long track record of intimidating ministers, journalists and anyone else who gets in its way. It also has a track record of defending the indefensible.”
‘. . .
“The Police Federation is a mighty vested interest that has seen off just about all attempts to reform the least reformed part of the public service. They need to be taken on, not appeased.”
The former minister’s intervention follows claims from three Cabinet colleagues of Mr Mitchell that the Police Federation are seeking to exploit the row for political reasons, and in particular grievances about changes to officers’ pay and conditions.