Bury Free Press, 18th July 2014
Across the country, students and teachers are cheering and celebrating. No, it’s not yet summer, but The Great Reformer has been reformed. That was the big news of the week – the ace of the reshuffle that no one saw coming.
After four years in office, Gove is gone. His reforms of the curriculum, exam system and teaching have dominated the press since the coalition came to power – he’s been accused by some of trying to take Britain back to the classrooms of his youth and praised by others for his foresight and brilliance.
Except I’m left wondering how much his new position – Chief Whip – really suits him. His two jobs are to send out a unified message to MPs on policy and be the face of the party on TV. Bit of an odd combination, you might think, for the man who recently had a public row with the Home Secretary and most of the LibDems over policy, and was voted by the public in a YouGov/BuzzFeed poll as ‘the most hated Conservative politician’.
In any case, on Tuesday Mr Gove took a significant demotion. What he calls ‘an exciting opportunity’ is a cover, a nonsense role. Greg Hands, the current de facto Chief Whip, will stay in place, as will Grant Shapps, who is responsible for the Conservative media line. Gove will stay where he can’t cause any trouble, with the Prime Minister most of the time, in Cabinet meetings and strategy decisions.
Gove’s also been given the honour of coordinating MP voting, at a time when there’s nothing left to vote on. Government proposals are almost out, school’s almost out, and with whisperings in the tabloids of a career change and Cameron babysitting him as Whip, Michael Gove will end the term in a vastly different place to where he started.