Gove has taught an old dogma new tricks

8 Jun 2014 at 18:34

Well, I wasn’t all that far out in my predictions of what would happen in the May versus Gove skirmish. My only surprise was that Fiona Cunningham got the chop. Of course she deserved it, but I thought that a deal might have been done. But with a Gove apology May would have been mad to fight to the death for one of her ultra loyal tiger cubs.

The interesting thing about Cameron is that once he decides on an execution the head is removed swiftly and cleanly. By and large this pulls the rug from the press provided he gets it right. Sadly, in the Andrew Mitchell case due to less than thorough advice, a questionable sacking was made. I suspect that this is bitterly regretted.

So now is the dilemma for Labour. They want to make a fuss in the Commons on Monday preferably with an Urgent Question. But from and to whom? Let’s look at the politics. Wounding Gove may wing Cameron. He is a believer, loyal and a friend. But he has put his hands up and made rather an inspirational speech about opportunity in education for the disadvantaged. Hunt is bright, ambitious and when it comes to shove coming to push will probably elbow out the over egged Umunna when it comes Miliband’s funeral. Hunt’s strategy will be to accuse Gove of speaking to the wicked Murdoch press, being soft on terrorism in schools and being warned of the Trojan Horse problems in 2010. There are risks in this for Hunt. If Gove was warned in 2010 the problems were obviously grown on the last Labour government’s watch. And as an incoming Tory Secretary of State without the ammunition he would have been accused of anti Muslim political scaremongering. Of playing the race card. If Hunt was wise he’d wait for the Ofsted report to come out later in the week. Miliband will be rather worried that at his all time low a charismatic and clever member of the Shadow Cabinet would be taking the limelight.

And then there is Yvette Cooper another (for reasons totally beyond my comprehension) leadership contender. In the Labour food chain her needs come first. She can only cause May a little surface damage. " Did you leak these reports?"
“Of course not”.
“Were you aware that your spin doctor did?”
“But under the code you are responsible for her actions?”
“Yes. That is why she has resigned.”
“Don’t you read the Home Office website?”
“I wish I had the time.”
“Aha, maybe you should.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake”.

So there is not really a lot of mileage in it for Labour. So whom will he choose? A bit on a no brainer. Have a crack at May on Monday, Cameron on Wednesday and then Gove when the Oftsed report comes out. And hubby Balls is a ghastly little man would would not piss on Miliband if he was on fire. Probably because he set the fire in the first place.

And Cameron hasn’t been wounded by this at all. He has quickly broken up a fight on the playground. And there have been no fatal injuries. Gove looks a bit of a twat because he spoke at a ‘private’ meeting with Murdoch executives. But there for the grace of God go most ministers. And after George’s Corfu experience it would be unwise for Cameron to put the boot in purely for that. But from a government perspective this could all be a winner. Flotillas of task forces, Czars and champions will be launched to show that we are committed to drain the swamps of extremism from our schools. There would have been a sharp intake of breath and utter revulsion at the Times revelations that children as young as six are told to regard British girls as ‘white prostitutes’.

Now back to May. This has bruised the bumper sticker of her leadership hopes. But the wheels have not fallen off. The Cameron haters will be sipping their steins of bitterness and will silently whoop for joy that one of his close friends has been embarrassed. But then they have a dilemma. Gove has a popular narrative that crosses party lines. On education he almost has a dogma. Real educational opportunities for everybody. Blimey, isn’t that what St. Margaret aspired to if only she hadn’t closed so many grammar schools? Clever little Gove has taught an old dogma new tricks.

How Cameron must chuckle himself to sleep.