Surprise, surprise — Michael Gove doesn’t think much of Ed Miliband. To keep up the momentum on Labour's summer of discontent, the Education Secretary gave a speech at Conservative HQ this morning, focusing on Labour's troubled relationship with the trade unions — again. He was clearly enjoying himself as he compared the Labour leader's present position to two of the party's moderate forces:
‘And if anyone thinks I am asking too much I ask simply this - what would Blair do? Indeed, what would even Kinnock have done?
‘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 - who governs Labour - his answer would appear to be - increasingly - the unions.’
There wasn't really a great deal that was new in this speech - indeed, it reminded Guido Fawkes of one he gave in March 2010. The references to Tony Blair and Neil Kinnock's deft handling of the Militant tendency are present in both. Today's speech was destined only to keep Labour's union problems in the Westminster mindset and reinforce the perception Labour are still struggling to set the agenda. With the TUC's annual meet-up in two weeks, Miliband will have little choice to but address both these Tory attacks, and the concerns of the unions.
No one could think of much to ask him about the unions so using the WWTBD line (what would Tony Blair do ), Gove was probed by the press on the Syria situation, given Blair's piece in the Times (£) today. The Education Secretary gave no hint of whatever he may personally believe, pointing out he isn’t a member of the National Security Council (his brief is education after all) and has no inside track on what is happening. Instead, he robustly backed David Cameron and William Hague. With Parliament recalled for Thursday, Gove may be one of many ministers flying the flag for the government's motion in the next few days.