A weekend news report says Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s childhood has been scrutinised by colleagues ‘for clues to understanding this most paradoxical of politicians — the popular, ultra-courteous free-thinker who, by knifing Boris Johnson in the 2016 Tory leadership election, became a byword for treachery’. Gove was adopted as a baby and has never sought to meet his birth parents. He speaks fondly of the Aberdeen couple who adopted him. While the article concerned was generally favourable to Gove, the line about colleagues scrutinising his childhood jarred. It seemed to suggest childhood adoption might have inclined him to later-in-life treachery, as if that was the sad result of giving a child a home. Back-stabbing is hardly unknown in frontline politics. If you want a friend, buy a dog, aspirants to No. 10 are advised. Gove is certainly ultra-courteous, almost an Aberdonian version of Jacob Rees-Mogg. His soft word often turns away wrath. But he’s as hard as nails, a true son of the Granite City.
US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh surrounded himself with women when introducing himself to the nation. He included members of the girls’ basketball teams he’d coached, saying: ‘I love helping the girls grow into confident players.’ Then a row erupted when Christine Blasey Ford, a middle-aged psychology professor from California, accused him of sexually molesting her 36 years previously in Maryland, when they were both teenagers. In a reference to his basketball supporters, Time noted: ‘The row of young girls, legs bare in their private school skirts, looked different now’, inferring that they’d changed from innocent lassies into pouting Lolitas. Who to believe in this strange story: calculating, image-conscious Kavanaugh, who denies he’s molested any woman, or Dr Ford, who can’t remember where it happened, can’t recall who paid for a lie-detector test she volunteered to take, and who can’t explain other inconsistencies in her story? It’s a mad-sounding method of choosing judges for the highest court in the land. What Kavanaugh is alleged to have done as a teenager sounds trivial — the kind of ill-behaviour you imagine would be forgiven if admitted nearly four decades later. But it can’t be admitted without Kavanaugh forfeiting his Supreme Court appointment. Dr Ford said the trauma has affected her life. And if Kavanaugh is found to have lied by denying it, that too means he’s out, and tarnished for life. Thank goodness there is no need for us to delve deeply into the private lives of our above-suspicion judges.
A friend saw a sign in Knightsbridge advertising ‘anal bleaching’. A frightening prospect. I thought he was making it up. However I checked and found an online advert explaining: ‘To achieve a more uniform colour round the anus, HB Health of Knightsbridge provides an innovative treatment…Anal bleaching using a revolutionary technique — a minimally invasive laser treatment.’ Reassuringly, hanky-panky can be resumed but ‘no earlier than seven days from the procedure’.
Hillary Clinton’s verdict on Donald Trump in a new edition of her book, What Happened, about how he defeated her in the 2016 presidential election: ‘I hoped my fears for our future were overblown. They were not.’ Oh dear. It’s almost a definition of sour grapes. I prefer the reaction of US Democratic party’s Dick Tuck, who is said to have announced after a Republican party win: ‘The people have spoken. The bastards.’
Theresa May seemed close to collapse on live TV after a volley of difficult questions from the BBC’s Andrew Marr about her Brexit plans and responsibility for worsening the plight of Windrush migrants to Britain. What purpose was served, from the PM’s point of view, in agreeing to this car-crash encounter? ‘She had to do it — it would have looked bad otherwise,’ a political expert friend explains. What, worse than the interview itself? Surely not. There is no rule saying a prime minister has to give a TV interview on the eve of their party conference. I’d suspect any colleague or advisor who argued for one of having an ulterior motive. Marr’s scornful quizzing of Mrs May will have persuaded some Tories that he’s a Labour supporter but, to be fair, he gave Jeremy Corbyn a hard time the week before — to less effect since Jezza is riding high, seemingly immune to media scrutiny. Mrs May’s hare-in-the-headlights performance will have excited those who seek her destruction and saddened others who’d hoped she’d find an honourable, dignified way of taking us out of the EU.
Peter McKay is a Daily Mail columnist.