Public opinion still says; ‘Mitchell for the high jump!’
Most voters still believe Andrew Mitchell called police officers “plebs” and think it was right for him to resign from the Government, a new poll has found.
The YouGov poll suggests that recent revelations about the events surrounding Mr Mitchell’s resignation as Chief Whip have not yet turned public opinion in his favour.
Mr Mitchell quit in October over an incident in which he swore at two police officers guarding Downing Street. They claim he called them “plebs”, an account he denies.
He has now launched a political campaign to clear his name, after the arrest of a third officer who provided a contested account of the swearing incident to an MP.
His allies also say that CCTV footage of the incident discredits the official record made by the first two officers.
The YouGov poll was conducted on 20-21 Dec, after the arrest and the CCTV were made public.
It shows that 43 per cent of people still believe that Mr Mitchell probably did call the officers plebs. Thirty-four per cent said he did not.
A total of 49 per cent of people said they still think Mr Mitchell was right to resign, while 26 per cent said he was wrong.
Some of Mr Mitchell’s allies say he should now be returned to ministerial office. The poll showed that 29 per cent of voters agree, while 40 per cent say he should not be offered a new post.
Mr Mitchell said today that he had been the victim of a politically-motivated “stitch-up” by police officers trying to discredit him and harm the Conservative Party.
The poll showed that 26 per cent of voters said they believed Mr Mitchell has been the victim of deliberate smear campaign by the police.
By contrast, 39 per cent said he “probably did” use the language reported by the police.
However, the poll suggests that many voters are now uncertain about the incident: 31 per cent say they believe Mr Mitchell, while 28 per cent believe the police. But 41 per cent said they do not know who to believe.
Mr Mitchell has admitted telling the officers “I thought you lot were supposed to f—— help us” but says did not use the word pleb or other insulting terms.
If his account is shown to be the truth, 44 per cent of voters say it would have been wrong for Mr Mitchell to quit.
However, 38 per cent still believe that swearing in that matter would still have been enough to cost him his job.
Some Conservatives have suggested that the Mitchell incident casts doubt on the reliability of the police in general.
Nick Herbert, a former police minister, today suggested that “middle England” is losing confidence in the police and said that police leaders should address “serious” problems around public trust in their forces.
According to YouGov, a total of 22 per cent of people said the Mitchell incident has made them trust the police less, while 61 per cent said he had made “no difference” to their view of the police.
Andrew Mitchell: voters still think he was right to quit, poll shows
Also: Met chief vows to uncover truth about ‘plebgate’ row