Politics 4 October 2012 Andrew Mitchell pulls out of Conservative conference Chief whip, accused of calling police "plebs", did not want to be a "distraction". Sign up for our weekly email * Print HTML No Labour or Liberal Democrat conference speech was complete without a reference to Andrew Mitchell's run-in with the police. It began with Vince Cable quipping that he was a "mere pleb" and continued with Danny Alexander greeting Lib Dem delegates as "fellow plebs". For Labour, Ed Miliband angrily denounced Mitchell's behaviour as proof that the Tories could never be a "one nation" government, whilst Yvette Cooper, channeling The Communist Manifesto, cried, "Plebs of the world unite, we have nothing to lose but this Government." And I'd wager that "plebs" will also make an appearance in Harriet Harman's closing speech today. One can hardly blame them for making play of the incident. Unlike many political scandals, "pleb gate" is easily understood by the public and all the more damaging for it. So damaging, indeed, that Mitchell has pulled out of next week's Conservative conference in Birmingham. The Telegraph reports that the Chief Whip will stay away in order to avoid becoming a "distraction" (which he certainly would have been). Fortunately for the Tories, Mitchell, as Chief Whip, was not expected to give a speech. Had he remained International Development Secretary in the recent reshuffle, it would have been much harder to justify a non-appearance. › Support for Labour surges after Miliband's speech Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell will not appear at next week's Conservative conference in Birmingham. Photograph: Getty Images. George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman. Subscribe from just £1 per issue More Related articles Leader: Labour is failing. A hard Brexit is looming. But there is no need for fatalism Theresa May's Article 50 letter: what she said, and what she meant In Birmingham after the Westminster attack: "You can't paint everyone with one brush"