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Tebbit: 'PM Incompetent Over Mitchell Row'
David Cameron has been criticised by Conservative grandee Lord Tebbit following Andrew Mitchell's resignation as Chief Whip.
He said the Prime Minister had allowed "this dog of a coalition Government" to look incompetent.
Accused of calling police officers "plebs" when they would not let him leave Downing Street on his bicycle through the main gates, Mr Mitchell finally quit his Cabinet post on Friday.
Despite the unequivocal support of Mr Cameron, Mr Mitchell admitted the ongoing row had made his position untenable.
Writing in The Observer, Lord Tebbit said: "This dog of a coalition Government has let itself be given a bad name and now anybody can beat it.
"It has let itself be called a Government of unfeeling toffs. Past governments have had far more real Tory toffs: prime ministers Alec Douglas-Home and Harold Macmillan, or even in Thatcher's day, Whitelaw, Soames, Hailsham, Carrington, Gowrie, Joseph, Avon, Trenchard and plenty more, without incurring similar abuse."
He added: "The abiding sin of the Government is not that some ministers are rich, but that it seems unable to manage its affairs competently."
A cabinet minister in Margaret Thatcher's government, Lord Tebbit said Mr Cameron needed to impose "some managerial discipline not just on his colleagues but on himself".
Nadine Dorries, Conservative MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, also criticised Downing Street's reaction to the situation with Mr Mitchell.
She told Sky's Murnaghan programme: "Unfortunately it's been a catastrophe.
"To some people it's beginning to look that at the end of last week or certainly yesterday we were reaching a bit of a tipping point and it was beginning to look and smell very much like the worst days when John Major and the Back To Basics catastrophe happened.
"I hope that the last week is a bit of a wake up call both to number 10 and the people who work for the PM because we can't continue to have little mini-disasters.
"Someone in number 10 needs to stop and get a grip."
The criticism comes amid reports that Mr Mitchell decided to step down after younger Tory MPs from the 2010 intake made clear their hostility when Parliament returned this week.
Many were dismayed that the row dragged on for so long and that Mr Mitchell - who did not attend the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham earlier this month - had not been sacked by the PM.
It has been a disastrous week for Mr Cameron following Mr Mitchell's decision to quit and reports George Osborne tried to sit in a first class train carriage with only a standard ticket - claims which have been firmly rejected by the Chancellor.
He will attempt to shore up his authority and move on from recent events in a speech next week in which he will call for a new "tough but intelligent" approach to law and order.
A ComRes opinion poll, carried out for The Independent on Sunday and the Sunday Mirror, revealed Labour are now eight percentage points ahead of the Tories.
The Lib Dems were in a distant third with just 10% of those polled opting for the party.