Labour’s education policy has been a mess since 2010, not least because of union puppets like Lisa Nandy constantly undermining Stephen Twigg. In the clearest signal yet of what the old Shadow Education Secretary really thought about academies and free schools, we must look to the career of his spinner Alex Bigham.
Instead of sticking around to work for Tristram Hunt for another eighteen months of writing dreary press releases about the perils of free schools, Blairite Bigham is off to education charity ARK Schools. And what do they do?
Only help to set up and run free schools across the country, of course. They even proudly display a glowing testimonial from Bigham’s old enemy Michael Gove on their website. Another one sees the light…
Face-for-radio Chris Cook is leaving the Pink’un to become policy editor at Newsnight. Regular readers will remember Chris from his fair and balanced reporting of a certain Pearson-owned exam board, as well his long, long, long vendetta against Michael Gove, after working for his predecessor in the Tory education brief David Willetts. Seriously though, Guido and Chris settled differences over many beers not long ago in some trendy media hangout we both happened to be in. He wishes him the best of luck. The ‘semi-Tory’ is jumping just as the FT flirts with switching back to Labour…
Henry de Zoete becomes the second Gove SpAd to quit in as many months. With Observer front page veteran Dom Cummings off to open a new free school, now James Forsyth reports de Zoete is leaving to give a successor time to settle in before 2015. Guido hears Toby Helm is being lined up to replace him…
Who knows what we are going to learn from Sarah Vine’s new Mail column that is starting this week, but already Michael Gove’s wife has revealed a fascinating fact about the Education Secretary. Mainly that he looks identical to their pet Bichon Frise. Leaving aside the pets and owners cliché, this one is uncanny…
Guido has been at Michael Gove’s speech laying into the unions this morning. All good stuff comparing Miliband to Kinnock and the unions to the Militant Tendency.
“The contrast with Neil Kinnock, who originally faced down the Militant Tendency over entryism, is striking and not at all flattering to Ed Miliband. While Kinnock moved bravely and remorselessly to eradicate Militant’s influence and Militant-sponsored MPs from Labour, Miliband has done nothing to stop the takeover of his own party. The sad truth is that charming, intelligent, eloquent, thoughtful, generous and chivalrous as Ed Miliband may be, in this critical test of leadership he has been uncertain, irresolute, weak. To the question of who governs Labour, his answer would appear to be, increasingly, the unions.”
One thing struck Guido more than anything else however, it almost felt like he had heard this speech before. For a reason. Worth taking a look at Gove’s speech making a very similar comparison back in March 2010.
“This is just the tip of iceberg of a new Militant Tendency in the next generation of Labour MPs. Labour’s re-unionisation has put them in bed with the past at a time when it is crucial that this country wakes up to the future. The last thing we need a political system where genuine participation in democracy is out-muscled by union power.”
And there’s more. Here is Gove today on Tony Blair:
“Tony Blair once argued that the Labour Party should not be the political arm of the trade union movement but the political movement of the British nation as a whole. That’s what One Nation politics means.”
Here is Gove on Tony Blair three years ago:
“Tony Blair wanted the Labour Party to be the political arm not of the trade union movement but of the British people as a whole. But now Labour has become once more the party of division – them and us, partisans and enemies, strikers and bosses.”
Today Gove talked of a “cadre” of Unite candidates:
“Unite wasn’t going to leave anything to chance. It would – like left wing entryist organisations – create its own cadre – or vanguard – of loyal activists.”
Three years ago?
“A new cadre of politicians have been installed, parachuted into fighting parliamentary seats on the strength of their links with the big unions, those who increasingly wield muscle within Labour.”
Points well made of course, then again he’s had plenty of practice.
Elsewhere, Gove brought his speech to a conclusion by asking “what would Tony Blair do?” Cue the first question being on intervention on Syria. Gove praised Hague again and again, insisting “I don’t know, I’m not on the national security council. My brief is education and generally domestic matters.” Encouraging words though on Pilgrims to finish up: “we shouldn’t have taxpayer subsidising union activity when that activity is often not in the public interest”. Something surely everyone can agree on…
After Gove sat in the Speaker’s chair and impersonated him during the Tory parliamentary party photo shoot before recess, Bercow gets his revenge. Well sort of.
We’ve all been there, having to explain yourself to the missus after coming home a bit squiffy from a long night out. It seems the Education Secretary was quick thinking. Mrs Gove, soon to be Mail columnist Sarah Vine, tweets:
That old chestnut.
Guido would not like to suggest that Boris and Gove had wet the Royal Baby’s head last night, though then again these photos do suggest they were in somewhat jovial spirits after a dinner at Scotts:
Boris clearly just fancied a stroll rather than riding his bike home, while Gove’s difficulty walking in a straight line can obviously be explained by the heat:
When Michael Gove sat in John Bercow’s chair during the Tory parliamentary party photograph last week, his impressions of the Speaker had his colleagues in stitches. Following Bercow’s savaging of Philip Hammond, Gove ripped into the Defence Secretary in the style of the increasingly short Speaker. Much to the amusement of his backbench detractors. The Mail has a prototype of a badge disgruntled Tories are planning to wear as members of the new “Bol****ed by Bercow” club.
The Education Secretary would be the perfect patron…
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LibDem Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael:
“Chris Huhne was the man who had put the ‘t’ into ‘Cancun’.”