Andrew Mitchell, le parlementaire chargé de la discipline du parti conservateur (le chief whip), a été contraint de démissionner de son poste suite à des propos injurieux envers des représentants des forces de l’ordre. Ce fait plutôt bénin en apparence dégrade encore plus l’image du gouvernement conservateur, malmené par la crise économique.
On September 25th, Andrew Mitchell, the chief whip of the Conservative Party, insulted policemen because they refused to let him cycle trough the main gates of Downing Street. He is said to have uttered “fucking plebs” to the policemen. The media immediately made it an affair of state and the public opinion wanted him to resign. He was backed by David Cameron but was finally forced to give up his functions on Friday October 19th. The case isn’t without consequences for the Tories’ reputation in Great Britain.
Indeed, for many decades now, the Tories have tried to get rid of the image of a party that is out of touch by using a more neutral rhetoric. This incident has come at the wrong time since the government’s popularity is sinking in the polls. To make things worse for Prime Minister David Cameron, London mayor Boris Johnson declared he was “very glad” of the outcome of the incident. Johnson may have tried to soften the relationship between the police and the government to appear closer to the electors. Indeed, the Tories are said to be to posh to be close to average Britons. Thatcher’s rhetoric didn’t help.
David Cameron seems to be a clear heir to Thatcher but he also tries to differ from her by saying “I want to spread privilege” during the party conference in Birmingham. On some social issues, Cameron appears more liberal, for example on the subject of same-sex marriage.
In fact, what is at stake in the next general elections in 2015 is the permanence of the Tories in power. This affair of state highlights that the coalition is jeopardized. For instance, there are numerous disagreements: on tax issues and the European Union. Cameron has adopted a Eurosceptic position but it’s clearly meant to garner more political support. In a nutshell, the rise of Johnson as a future Tory leader shows that the party could swing to a more conservative stance. But in three years, things can still change.
Maud CARRIERE & Camille GRAVET