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Tories to keep Gove on tight leash

17 July 2014

Why is Michael Gove a minister for the Today programme when he was removed as Education Secretary because of his poor poll ratings? This paradox has amused some in Westminster, but it’s not quite as confusing as it seems.

I hear that the new chief whip and enhanced Conservative campaigner will not be given quite such a free rein as it might seem. Indeed, those at the centre of the party are acutely aware of the dangers of sending out a man who already likes to have his say on many things that had nothing to do with education. They think that by bringing him into the centre, they can better control his outbursts. They could always lock him in a toilet when matters of foreign policy come up: today in the Commons Angela Eagle teased Gove for becoming stuck in the loo in the wrong division lobby on his first full day as chief whip while a vote was taking place.

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I also understand that some of those who were key in pushing for Gove’s demotion/promotion/locomotion saw the columns that his wife Sarah Vine writes about him in the Daily Mail as another ‘unhelpful’ attribute.

In his column in this week’s Spectator, James says Gove will ‘appears to be a political version of the domestiques that you see in the Tour de France, the cyclists whose job it is to help the team leader to win’. He is particularly good at popping up on the radio in the middle of a government disaster, and this will be his remit. But he’s also very good at giving a sense of enthusiasm and moral mission about Conservatism. Last week at the 1922 Committee, David Cameron told MPs that the Tory campaign for the 2015 election wouldn’t just appeal to heads, but hearts as well. It would be a values-based campaign. And since Gove’s school reforms are the only moral mission-inspired changes that have actually been implemented (Universal Credit may be a moral mission too, but it’s going to be a mission to implement it even within the current timetable), he has plenty of values-based, positive stories to tell (like this one). If he sticks to the script, that is.

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Show comments
  • Amir

    Check this piece about Michael Gove’s demotion:

  • Smithersjones2013

    And the fact that all this has been broadcast in the media negates the purpose of it. If Gove is seen as a talking Downing Street puppet (as he now will be), his credibility shot,, ‘the voice of Dave’, then he is worthless to them and the whole thing is yet another example of the gross political ineptitude that resides in Downing Street.

    How ironic it is that Dave seems to be taking on board the sort of failed control freakery that Brown desperately tried to impose and failed as a result. Such control freakery is the last resort of those facing defeat.

    The sooner the country and the Tory party get rid of Cameron the better! He clearly is the ‘nasty’ in the ‘nasty party’ and a political village idiot to boot!

  • Michael990

    “he’s also very good at giving a sense of enthusiasm and moral mission about Conservatism.”
    Clearly he’s in the wrong party then.

  • GraveDave

    Well, it’ s been a bad week to bury good news.

  • johnproblem

    I don’t think he counts anymore – you know who has put the mockers on him.
    “Yes, Lynton.”
    “Here’s my list for your new
    “Thanks awfully, Lynton.”
    “No worries, mite. She’ll be
    “No Old Etonians to go, I trust.”
    “Course not, mite. Ya think I’m
    “Good Heavens, no, Lynton.”
    “Oh dear. Both Michaels and
    William to go?”
    “Trust me, mite, they’re a
    bleedin’ liability. You need Sheilas instead.”
    “What’s that?”
    “Women, Dave. Women.”
    “I do?”
    “Ah. Good show. Um. Who’s going to
    tell the chaps who are kicked out?”
    “I will, if you want. No prob.”

    “Oh, thanks awfully.”

  • Frank

    Lynton Crosby doesn’t understand that if Michael Gove were leading the conservative party, the next election would pretty much be a shoo-in for them. The teachers may hate Gove, but the rest of Britain has a pretty fair idea of the self-serving nature and weedy lefty agenda of the teaching unions (and therefore what an uphill battle it must have been for Gove to get any change at all enacted, and that includes having to fight his deeply lethargic education department).
    Making Gove the party spokesperson is a brilliant step as it means that the dreadful Grant Shapps can shut up, means that Boris will be pushed back into his cupboard and finally means that Dave will have to start sweating his brief a bit.

    • GraveDave

      Gove, but the rest of Britain has a pretty fair idea of the self-serving nature and weedy lefty agenda of the teaching unions

      No , really, most of Britain (the Britain you’re thinking of anyway) wouldn’t know one education minister from another.

      • Frank

        I agree, but most of Britain does have children and therefore have seen teachers at close hand.

    • Tim Baker

      And you obviously know more about winning elections than Lynton Crosby

      • Frank

        I am not claiming that I know more about winning elections than Lynton Crosby. I am however probably better placed than him at evaluating how / what most Brits think of Dave and Gove (because I was born here – and accept that I know jack about Australian political affiliations/sympathies). Lynton’s claim to fame in Britain is that he helped fatso Boris get elected, which was, when you think about it rather different. Boris was facing a person who had offended large segments of his electoral community and regularly came out with absurd comments – being able to capitalise on these aspects doesn’t make Lynton some electoral guru, nor a specialist in what the British public think.

        • Tim Baker

          So how does Lynton Crosby replace Cameron with Gove as Tory leader before the next general election?

    • eclair

      I really hope the cons are cleverer than they look on this. Some intriguing eurosceptic moves too, if thats what they are. Are we looking at bluff, double bluff and smoke-screening rolled in to one or is Dave just daft?

    • ButcombeMan

      Your first four words are surely enough.

      That is, if Crosby had anything to do with moving Gove and Patterson.

      It has just increased the absolute contempt with which I regard Mr Slippery.

  • Pacificweather

    It was good to see that Mr Cameron was prepared to save his friend from the consequences of his own stupidity. Friendship and loyalty were amply rewarded.

  • Gizzard Puke


  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    The Tories have finally found their inner Mandelson. We should congratulate CCHQ for opting for some of their own medicine themselves. This will be fun to watch …

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …will you and all your sockpuppets be barking as well as watching?

    • Colonel Mustard

      Relax. He’s been moved from the job where he put the frighteners on your comrades. You can spare some time honing your smearing scripts for other targets once you’ve recovered from the champagne hangovers from your “Gove Gone” parties.

    • telemachus associates

      He makes the flesh of all right thinking people crawl.
      He has yet to pay penance for his destruction of the Education System and the abuse he hurled at hard working teachers.
      As Ed said yesterday however we laud and applaud the decision to as Sarah Vine acknowledges humiliate the wretch.

      • Kitty MLB

        So the clones have returned.Michael Gove was brilliant and not only on the side of the children but
        could deal with the feral NUT and the entire leftie
        dominated teaching establishment and the likes of
        the BBC who said children don’t need to do well at
        school as they can do ‘other things’.
        This is a utter betrayel of our children just because
        Cameron wishes to start pandering to others just
        a year before the election.

      • TTTrog

        There’s a difference between abuse and criticism – like it or not HE was the elected minister. Was continuing to fail those most in need really an option even if it did upset those poor sensitive NUTs

      • Holly

        While your lot are concentrating on celebrating Gove’s departure, the new Education Secretary has weeks & weeks to ‘swot up’ on her new role.
        Gove has put in place what needed to be put in place, and nothing will change before next May.
        Then the new Education Secretary can step in to continue Gove’s raising of education and teaching standards until Gove’s return.

        • Paddy

          Just what I thought Holly!

          As soon as Cameron wins the next Election………Gove will be back.

          • GraveDave

            He wont be back. Not in education anyway. And if his reforms are going ahead anyway, like you say, why do you give a shi t, other than to have one over the ‘lefties’. Really, you’re like a bunch of kids yourselves.

        • GraveDave

          The Tories were in for three terms -from the late seventies to the early nineties. So whose fault is it again standards declined? And even if you argue for it being six of one and half a dozen of the other, why didn’t the Tories tackle it when they were in charge all the way?

          • starfish

            And since then labour were in charge for three terms. Your point is what exactly?

      • The Commentator

        Don’t think he ever hurled any abuse at hard working teachers, after all they were so difficult to find in the first place. Think he did imply some criticism of the majority of teachers who are lazy, self-serving, poorly educated and overpaid.

        • GraveDave

          I used to think that till I actually saw how it worked and what they were expected to do in a given day. Teaching was only the half of it. And many of the problems in education probably start at home from lazy, self serving, and poorly educated parents.

          • starfish

            Not sure I agree. My experience of the teaching ‘profession’ is off missed appointments, non returned calls, promises broken, agreed action not followed, rules not enforced, lazy acceptance of poor standards etc

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