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Mrs Gove goes on the warpath, as Michael plots his media career

16 July 2014

11:16 AM

16 July 2014

11:16 AM

Well, Michael Gove’s wife, Sarah Vine, has made her views clear: tweeting that the reshuffle was ‘a shabby day’s work which Cameron will live to regret’. Crikey. Talk about ‘stand by your man’:

Should Vine be turning her ire on Lynton Crosby? It was Crosby, so the story goes, who forced Gove out after concluding that his polling numbers were irredeemable. The move has created the greatest conundrum of the generally pretty perplexing reshuffle. If the new Chief Whip polls so terribly, why has he been asked to prosecute the election air war?


Gove has taken to his new role with characteristic relish: wrapping his interviewer, Huw Edwards, around his little finger and hinting at his plans for an expanded media role. He told the BBC that he was a big fan of LBC radio’s ‘Call Clegg’ feature, where the Deputy PM spends a Thursday morning being grilled for half an hour by listeners (and the occasional opposition party press officer, putting on a funny voice). What could possibly go wrong by allowing Gove, a politician who loves to start a fire and has a tendency to be rather blunt, loose on the airwaves, live, for more than twenty hours by the next election?

If ‘Grill Gove’ or ‘Maul Michael’ gets the go ahead, it’s going to be a tough balancing act for Gove. As Chief Whip, he must instil loyalty and discipline in the troops, and put a bit of stick about — if you will. Lines must be stuck to rigidly; quarrels and rebellion stamped out. But, as a talking head, the opportunities to stray off reservation are endless.

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Show comments
  • Diggery Whiggery

    Cameron is making the same mistake as Sarkozy here. He too, after 4 years of driving through courageous reform (although he did it himself rather than relying on others) suddenly got cold feet before the election and began to dismantle things. It enabled the socialists to paint him as a weak man (with an abrasive manner) who had become ashamed of his own policies.

    It was fatal, he lost and the socialists used the above argument to dismantle pretty much everything he did and France is now suffering as a result.

    Cameron needs to realise that to win, he needs principles, conviction and courage. Even Tony Blair had one conviction, that he was the Messiah, but that was enough for him to win three elections because he actually believed it.

    Dave of you don’t believe in anything, no-one will believe in you.

  • Diggery Whiggery

    Polls can be used to prove anything. There are a lot of people and unions who were having their comfy lives disturbed for the sake of our children by this man. It therefore stands to reason that there were a lot of polls published on his ‘lack of his popularity’.

    Never believe any poll, whether they confirm your point of view or not, because someone paid for it and they did so for a reason.

  • Sean L

    What’s the point of a *leader* who merely *follows*? You might as well have a computer. Might it not prove better politics ultimately for Dave to demonstrate some leadership and face down the mob, in this case the educational establishment or ‘blob’, as Gove aptly names it.

  • Fergus Pickering

    Lots of fun. I’m looking forward to it!

  • Mrs Josephine Hyde-Hartley

    Perhaps he’s going to find out more about the end-to end-security of a Whips office remit.

  • Waveform

    So one household containing two Dolores Umbridges? Sounds awful.

  • sfin

    The tweet was a reference to an article by Max Hastings – and not necessarily Mrs Gove’s personal view – Come on! Basic journalism please!

    I don’t buy this ‘demotion’ malarkey. Chief Whips – almost by definition – have to be fanatically loyal and it just isn’t a job you demote someone into. Surely Cameron isn’t that stupid and Gove not that loyal?

    I think Cameron has brought Gove into the centre for the run up to the next election – he is good media and has been an effective secretary of state.

    I also think that Gove will be offered a ‘big three’ cabinet post, should the tories win the election.

  • rtj1211

    His political enemies won’t be calling the show ‘Mincing Michael’ then??

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …I suspect Noncing Nick will be joining him soon.

  • davidofkent

    Mrs Gove may very well be proved right.

  • lakelander

    Extenuating circumstances. If they don’t win the election none of the Tories will have cabinet places.

  • Mynydd

    There was me thinking it was the Prime Minister who decided which MP held which government post. It now turns out in the reshuffle it was Mr Crosby, an unelected part time employee of the Conservative party. How low has Mr Cameron sunk, unable to decide who is in the cabinet and who is not. Of course it as been known for a long time that Mr Cameron doesn’t do detail. So in Mr Cameron’s eyes the government personnel is just detail and it doesn’t matter to much.

    • Makroon

      Ha-ha, you lot are really frightened of big, bad, Lynton Crosby, aren’t you ?

      • Mynydd

        Frightened, you must be joking, Mr Crosby lost the general election for Mr Howard and the Conservative party. Long may he stay in post.

  • CraigStrachan

    When has a Chief Whip ever been a face of the party in the media? It’s the ultimate back-room job. This simply makes no sense.

    • Tim Baker

      Dont’ worry, Britain, will stay in the EU.

  • Matthew 88

    Maybe one of the factors counting against Gove in Cameron’s mind was that Sarah Vine herself is a bit of a loose cannon

  • Gizzard Puke

    This ‘Government’ is bloomin awful let’s face it. I’m talking as a long-time ex-Tory.

    • you_kid

      You mean you are an underperforming ex-Tory voter and having backed the wrong horse and made all the wrong decisions in your life you are now a disillusioned UK Irrelevance Party voter.

      That figures.

      • John Lea

        Please learn some grammar – reading your idiotic thought-free postings is made even more tortuous by the fact that you seem incapable of structuring a coherent sentence.

  • telemachus

    He looked just like smug Hunt at PMQ’s

    • Harold Angryperson

      Talking of smug hunts…

  • dado_trunking

    The links to doily mail pieces are always welcome.
    “The demotion of Michael Gove, pictured, from Education Secretary to Chief Whip has ‘shocked Middle England'”

    We are genuinely shocked I tell you!
    What a way to start your media carreer.

    • starfish

      I wasn’t !

      • dado_trunking

        NUT troll!

  • JabbaTheCat

    “A shabby day’s work which Cameron will live to regret”

    Those are Max Hasting’s words from the DM article and not Sarah Vine’s…

    • William_Brown

      Perhaps, but she took the time and trouble to tweet it….

      • P_S_W

        She may well agree with it, being a loyal wife, but she didn’t write it or put her own spin on it (yet).
        Therefore the article is inaccurate.

    • starfish

      Not sure Max Hastings is necessarily objective in his criticism

    • Makroon

      A lot of ink has been wasted on the usual sour, journalistic clap-trap.
      The great bulk of the public is immune to this harumphing from the usual suspects – Hastings may be interesting on conflict, but politics ?
      The public may, however, quite like a few new, fresh, female faces, giving the lie to the Tory caricature of a bunch of nasty old toffs stuck in the Thatcher era.

      • GraveDave

        The public may, however, quite like a few new, fresh, female faces, giving the lie to the Tory caricature of a bunch of nasty old toffs stuck in the Thatcher era.

        That’s just it, they’ve had a female prime minister.

        What’s there to prove.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Well, we could have another one. Come on Theresa, give it to ’em.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …she already is.

            Mistress May… the Queen of Darkness… is watching you.

  • Grumpy

    There is surely another reason for his demotion. Putting the competition on the back foot. Looking around the Tory benches, I see no one else suitable to succeed Cameron in 2015-of course there is a chap outside Parliament. Mrs Vine should hold tight, she may me measuring up the curtains for that terraced council house in Downing Street yet.

  • swatnan

    Beware of the political wife. Vicky Price They can soon as not turn on you, with a vengence. Thats why SamCam is such an angel.

  • Steve Lloyd

    Moving Patterson was a gross error of judgement also. Here’s Bookers take on it.

    The real unsung hero of this story has been our Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, who had already come down to Somerset in January, for private briefings from some key local experts, notably a team from the Royal Bath & West agricultural society. Having impressed them with his practical grasp of the issues, Paterson within 16 hours drew up a “20-year action plan”, to do all that was needed to avert any repeat of our recent flooding disasters.

    This was centred on dredging the rivers that had been allowed to silt up; the setting up of a properly funded Somerset Rivers Board, uniting local councils, experts and farmers with the Environment Agency to bring the Levels back under proper management; and a “barrage” to prevent silt being washed back up the main drainage river by the second-highest tides in the world.

    Since then Paterson has kept a close eye on all that was happening, and when he visited yet again last week he was cheered to learn what real progress is being made on all sides.

    And the deluded fool Davy stays in post to continue the destructive energy policies, that will in the not to distant future, see Britain’s lights go out.

    • HookesLaw

      Whose to say his replacement will not do the same thing.

      • davidofkent

        Yes, who’s to say.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        You Camerloons are envirowhacko global warmingist nutters, so the same thing is what you want, lad.

    • starfish

      I would be more impressed if he hadn’t waited until Somerset was under water to do something about the Enviroment Agency’s policies that led directly to this crisis

      • Colin56

        I would be more impressed if he hadn’t waited until the Home Counties were under water, and the great and the good were getting their feet wet, at which point the Somerset Levels had been flooded and the peasants forced out of their homes for several weeks, if not a couple of months.

      • Jules Wright

        You can blame that squarely on Chris Smith. Patterson’s hands are tied in EU rope. However I know for a fact that key rural stakeholders like the NFU rate him very highly for doing everything he is able to do within his limited powers. A great loss – and mystifying.

        • John Smith

          Smith has got off very lightly. Like many politicians they slink off back into the undergrowth with impunity

    • you_kid

      Christopher Booker is a weapon’s grade deluded fool. He blames everything on the EU, in particular when he trips over his own two fat feet. Who would believe any thought concocted by this nutjob’s sick brain?

      • Jules Wright

        “He blames everything on the EU”. And rightly so – from the loss of own ability to manage our own landscape to the hubristic escalation of geo-political tensions with the Russian Federation. And all points inbetween. Wake up man.

        • you_kid

          ‘And rightly so!’
          Hahaha. Get a hair cut and a shave man, you look terrible.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …find some new sockpuppets, lad, these are growing stale.

            Where’s the goat?

      • Fergus Pickering

        You don’t altogether like him, then?

      • ButcombeMan

        Booker is certainly uncomfortable for people like you, With his pal Richard North, they do the research. Sneering is stupid. Attacking the man in such a personal and abusive way, not the argument, is foolish. You make yourself look ridiculous.

        If you think Booker’s comments on the floods are not correct, you have not read the reports he pointed at. neither plainly, had Chris Smith when he had his car crash interview on “Today”.

        Chris Smith is an absolute disgrace. He had all weekend to prepare for his Today interview

        The extended flooding in Somerset, (duration and depth) was the natural consequence of the policy developed under the Labour government. It was inevitable at some point in time. .

        • you_kid

          You see, you are changing your lines as it pleases you – it’s the EU’s fault, it’s Labour’s fault. We know what end stage socialist failure looks like and do not need reminding. The floods epitomise that kind of failure.

          • ButcombeMan

            I am changing nothing, you sneered at Booker as a person and failed to deal with his arguments and the history he has detailed extensively. A truly pathetic debating technique.

            Have you read the papers he pointed at? It appears not. You would not be so ignorant if you had.

            The extended flooding in Somerset was plainly caused by several factors, the EU and Labour are in the mix. even the influence of wildlife groups is in the mix.

            Labour have no electoral interest in Somerset.

            My complaint about Labour peer “Baron Smith of Finsbury”, is that he did not even have the courtesy to brief himself properly before appearing on “Today”. He is the worst sort of public sector, gravy train scoundrel, in my view.

      • Span Ows

        “He blames everything on the EU”

        He writes about things that are EU failings so naturally – and correctly – he blames the EU!

  • @PhilKean1

    Whatever Mrs Gove thinks, this has been a hugely popular reshuffle.

    I am hearing that people in council estates across the length of Britain are talking about nothing else.

    I mean, I must have driven past a dozen street parties on my way home from London.

    Yes, cosmetic, patronising and insulting our intelligences, it may have been. But this clever move by Cameron might just help erase from peoples’ minds the fact that his Government has been one of the most politically-damaging and un-Conservative of all time.

    • Peter Stroud

      I would not expect too many Conservative ideas, unless Cameron gives Gove a very broad brief, then leaves him alone to do his job, as he thinks fit.

      • HookesLaw

        So you admit then… Gove is still in government. Maybe as chief whip he will learn to tread softly and carry a big stick.

      • @PhilKean1

        Gove should have resigned and ploughed his own furrow.

    • Tony_E

      The problem for those of us who might want to see a more conservative program for government is that largely the country does not share our aspiration.

      To do anything, you must first be elected, and not in the half hearted manner that this administration was elected. Cameron is positioning himself to where he (and probably Crosby) thinks he has most chance of a majority. I’m not sure that either are correct in this, but it’s clear what the strategy is. It’s now for the new ministers to go out and prove Cameron right by bringing the public on side and bringing home the votes in 2015.

      I doubt he will be successful. But I doubted that whichever party was elected in 2010 could last the full term, and certainly couldn’t be re-elected. And despite the pitiful weakness of the Labour party, people vote for parties who give them something for nothing. The last Labour administration broke through the barrier that kept them out of power for so long – the ratio of nett contributors to recipients, and that is almost impossible to overturn.

      No truly conservative government will be voted in again, until the choice to continue the welfare state in its current form is no longer available.

      • @PhilKean1

        I have to disagree with the defeatist conclusions arrived at, I believe, due to the relentless conditioning by the enemies of conservatism.

        They said it loudly and for long enough, and some Conservatives chose to believe it.

        Governments lose elections – oppositions don’t win them. So the 3 Tory defeats BEFORE Labour lost it in 2010 were irrelevant and historically unrepresentative.
        Also, if what you say is correct, why didn’t Cameron’s strategy of turning his back on Conservatism and moving his party to the left win him a majority in 2010?

        • Tony_E

          I’d love to be as optimistic about ‘c’onservatism as you are Phil, but I just don’t see it. Had Cameron not gone with the very soft proposition in 2010, I believe Labour would have won as there would have been a very real reason for the stay away (Labour) voters to make the effort.

          Yes, I agree that governments lose elections, but not in a vacuum. Labour won three elections – the first because the people were tired of the old government and the old government was tired. The second was simple economics, the numbers were good and no amount of Blair bashing at the dispatch box was going to save Hague, the timing was just wrong. The third one was won on the back of huge benefit changes, a large increase in public sector spending and a a sharp monetary expansion.

          So with the changes that this brought to the electorate, along with mass immigration and China pricing (which kept both wage inflation and luxury goods low), I don’t see that the Conservatives had a lot of choice – the voters by and large wanted what Labour was serving up.

          Would David Davis have done better in 2010? I very much doubt it, because all roads to a proper economy meant less tax, less spend, less welfare. And that message would have had the Labour voters off their backsides and in the booths – whereas apathy kept them at home and that was all that allowed Cameron in.

          • Makroon

            It seems you have completely disregarded, the sharp shift to the left and back to long-abandoned notions like nationalisation, and higher taxation, by Red’s version of Labour.
            The centre is ripe for annexation by an astute centre-right Conservative party. Let’s see if Cameron is able to turn the trick, and accept Miliband’s gift.

            • the viceroy’s gin

              Call Me Dave has already picked that ripe fruit, lad. Turns out it’s rotten, much like him. But you’ve succinctly described why it is LibLabCon is now considered a monolithic socialist entity.

      • Colin56

        “To do anything, you must first be elected, and not in the half hearted manner that this administration was elected.”

        Can I please correct one thing in your post – this government was not elected. Rather, after the last election, the parties tore up their manifestos and huddled together in Whitehall meeting rooms for five days before cobbling together the ‘Coalition agreement’ which resulted in the current administration. No-one actually voted for this government: it was created by a bunch of politicians working out how they could get their hands on the levers of power by manipulating the parliamentary arithmetic and abandoning everything they had stood for in the preceding election (notably the LDs).

        But I think you are absolutely right, that this is the most political reshuffle of recent years, with eyes firmly on May 2015 and beyond. We should remember that it was the coalition that acted first to put in place the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, which determined when future elections will be (barring catastrophic political accidents).