Lone Figure among a Sea of Red; Taking over from Sir Norman Fowler Is No Mean Feat. Mel Hunter Meets His Successor Andrew Mitchell

The Birmingham Post (England), June 11, 2001 | Go to article overview

Lone Figure among a Sea of Red; Taking over from Sir Norman Fowler Is No Mean Feat. Mel Hunter Meets His Successor Andrew Mitchell


Byline: Mel Hunter

After the political massacre of election night Andrew Mitchell must surely have woken up with a confused head.

Like some kind of torture ritual, he was forced to watch as one by one, count by count, his colleagues fell by the wayside and and his party's ambitions were reduced to a pile of dust.

But then like the lone soldier who stands bemused after a bloody battle, Mr Mitchell was returned to the safe Conservative seat of Sutton Coldfield.

Although for his party there was carnage all around, his was a personal victory which, for the Conservatives, still deserved to be recognised.

So how does Rugby School educated Mr Mitchell feel about being the lone Tory voice amid the sea of red which once again has deluged Birmingham?

'Although it technically comes under Birmingham, we regard Sutton as slightly different,' he says, 'As I look out of my window now at the leafy bowling green I am very aware that Sutton is very separate from Birmingham. There is a different atmosphere.'

And as for the paucity of Conservative MPs in the Midlands?

'We are now working to ensure there are an awful lot more after the next election.'

Although his own success has kept Mr Mitchell above despondency, he is clearly disappointed by his party's fortunes.

'Obviously there were friends of mine who were standing and were very good candidates who didn't get through. I was extremely saddened that that was the case.'

However, he believes that it was always going to be difficult for the Tories to make inroads into Labour's majority after just one term in office.

'Tony Blair was always going to be given the benefit of the doubt, even though he had not delivered on his promises.'

Mr Mitchell was MP for Gedling, a semi-rural suburb of Nottingham, for 10 years until he lost his seat in 1997. …

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