Michael Gove was as emotional as you will ever see on Question Time as he responded to the Guardian story about his father. Privately the Goves are genuinely furious, and say the paper “rang up an elderly man who is very hard of hearing and has serious diabetes and twisted his words”. The Guardian story is headlined “Michael Gove’s father denies his company was destroyed by EU policies”. Yet this was the actual answer 79 year-old Ernest Gove gave to the journalist’s question:
“There’s nothing really to go back about anyway because it just was, when Europe went into fishing, the industry more or less collapsed down and I just packed in and got a job with another firm, you know. That was all that was happening.”
He didn’t contradict Gove Jnr, he completely confirmed him to be telling the truth.
As the journalist repeatedly tried to get Gove Snr to contradict Michael, Ernest explicitly said: “I’m not going against my son”. The Guardian claim “Michael Gove’s office neither denied or retracted or contested accuracy of Earnest Gove quotes”. Except they provided the reporter with a statement from Ernest Gove, again rubbishing the story:
“I don’t know what this reporter is going on about. Everybody in the north-east knows it was Europe that did such damage to the fish trade. The common fisheries policy was a disaster, not just for Aberdeen, but all of Scotland. There wasn’t any future for my business. It closed as a direct result of Europe.”
For avoidance of doubt, here is Ernest Gove on camera last week giving the BBC his view:
Despite Gove Snr clearly agreeing with his son – on camera, in the phone call with the reporter and in a statement provided prior to publication – the Guardian published the incorrect headline anyway. The article was held back until shortly before Gove Jnr’s appearance on Question Time for maximum damage. Remain spinners Will Straw and lyin’ Ryan Coetzee then piled in on Twitter, knowing it to be untrue. Pretty low even by the standards of political campaigning…