Michael gove

Petronella Wyatt: I’m not surprised Michael Gove is a lockdown fanatic

What this government needs is a good dose of the London mob, which at its height in the 18th century would express its displeasure in no uncertain terms. In those days, the political system, as I once observed to Boris when he believed in rights, was one of aristocracy tempered by rioting. The mob, whose members ran from tinkers to duchesses, acted as a curative to despotic politicians, whose carriages would be waylaid and their occupants turned upside down. The word ‘liberty’ was then chalked on their shoes. A bystander in 1770 described an apparently good-humoured riot of ‘half-naked men and women, children, chimney-sweepers, tinkers, Moors and men of letters,

Sunday shows round-up: new lockdown ‘could be extended’

Michael Gove – New lockdown ‘could be extended’ Yesterday Boris Johnson announced that England would be entering another lockdown as of this Thursday, which will last for, at the very least, the entirety of November. Sophy Ridge’s first guest of the day was the Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, who told her that the envisioned end-date of Wednesday 2nd December was subject to change if the rates of Covid infection could not be reduced: SR: If the data on the whole is not looking as you are hoping, then the national lockdown could be extended? MG: We will always take a decision in the national interest, based on evidence… SR:

Has Spitting Image ever been funny?

Thank you, Spitting Image, for the nostalgia trip! Your new series on BritBox has rekindled with almost Proustian fidelity those feelings I used to get every single time I watched the show back in my lost 1980s youth: the bathos; the disappointment; the frustration; the despair; the perpetual astonishment that puppet caricatures full of such satirical promise should so unfailingly and relentlessly be let down by such a leaden, insight-free script. Yes, we all remember the puppets: Margaret Thatcher in her chalk-stripe business suit; Norman Tebbit in his leathers; the hacks represented by wolves. But can anyone recall a single line from any episode that made them laugh, ever? I

Watch: Theresa May glares at Michael Gove

It can be a hard task adjusting to life on the backbenches after leaving front-line politics. One minute you’re running the country, the next you’re being batted away by busy ministers. Former Prime Minister Theresa May appeared to learn that lesson this afternoon in the Commons, when submitting a question on Brexit to Michael Gove. May was quizzing the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on security arrangements after Britain leaves the EU and wanted to make sure the UK is still able to access European police databases in the event of no deal. But the former PM appeared less than pleased with Gove’s response, when he suggested that we could police

I admit it: I was wrong to back Boris

A friend emailed me earlier this week in despair about the Prime Minister. ‘Boris reminds me of a hereditary king — Edward II or Henry VI — who is so staggeringly incompetent that he must be removed before doing too much damage,’ he wrote. ‘I felt the same way about May but Boris is worse.’ He is not the only person feeling like this. It pains me to say it, but I too have given up on Boris. The final straw was hearing him talk about his plans to create an army of ‘Covid marshals’ last week — Britain’s very own, curtain-twitching version of the Stasi. What on earth happened

The confusion in government goes beyond face masks

When Michael Gove delivered the Ditchley Annual Lecture last month he spoke about why citizens feel that the political system has failed them. ‘The compact leaders offered — trust that we are the best, trust that we have your best interests at heart, and trust that we will deliver — was broken.’ It was a powerful message. Voters have a right to expect honesty and competence from their leaders, not just decisiveness. So Mr Gove will have thought carefully before saying on television last weekend that face masks should not be mandatory, and people should instead be left to use their own judgment. No one, it seems, told him that

Sunday shows round-up: Wearing face masks to shop is ‘good manners’, says Gove

Michael Gove – We want to see more people back on the shop floor It was Michael Gove’s turn to lead the government’s broadcast rounds this morning. Sophy Ridge began by seeking clarification from the Cabinet Office Minister about the government’s message on returning to the workplace: MG: We want to see more people back at work, on the shop floor, in the office, wherever they can be. Of course, in some cases it’s appropriate and convenient for some people to work from home, but we want to make sure that… the economic engines of this country are fired up again. Wearing face masks while shopping is ‘good manners’ Andrew

The privilege of public service

Michael Gove gave the Ditchley Annual Lecture on Saturday in which he discussed the responsibility of government and the need for Whitehall reform. The full speech is below. Writing in his Prison Notebooks, ninety years ago, the Italian Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci defined our times. “The crisis consists precisely of the fact that the inherited is dying – and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear”. Gramsci’s analysis was developed between 1929 and 1935. The stability of the Edwardian Age – of secure crowns, borderless travel, imperial administrative elites and growing economic globalisation – was a memory. The inherited world of aristocratic

It’s not only Cummings whose fate is at stake

When the cabinet met by conference call on Monday, three ministers spoke in support of Dominic Cummings: Jacob Rees-Mogg, Suella Braverman and Priti Patel. Their sentiments were not universally shared. ‘Several of us started feeling ill when Jacob opened his mouth,’ says one attendee. ‘Silence from the parliamentary party is damning.’ But many critics of Cummings now think that, having dug in so deeply, the Prime Minster has to keep his man. To need to fight this much for an aide is bad enough. But to fight and lose would be devastating. This explains the energy behind the pursuit of Cummings in the past few days. The disclosure that Boris

The British state needs rewiring

‘Covid-19 has been perhaps the biggest test of governments worldwide since the 1940s,’ declares the government’s command paper on the virus. The fact that the following paragraph proposes ‘a rapid re-engineering of government’s structures and institutions’ is telling. It is an implicit admission that the British government machine is, in several important areas, failing this test. The argument about whether the UK has the worst death toll in Europe risks descending into statistical absurdity. Until excess mortality figures are known, it won’t be possible to come to a verdict. But it’s hard to argue that the UK has done much better than France, Spain and Italy. We have clearly done

The ridiculousness of the bookshelf police

 ‘People want to know why Michael Gove owns “racist” and “anti-Semitic” books’, reports the Independent’s website. By ‘people’ it actually means the time-rich Twitterati, who have discovered a new hobby: bookshelf policing. And the latest bookshelf to fail their purity test, to commit the sin of containing books these people disapprove of, is Gove’s. Yes, not content with policing speech, tweets, jokes and even hairstyles (witness the screams of ‘cultural appropriation’ that greet any celeb who wears her hair in a way her race isn’t meant to), now the offence-taking mob is policing bookshelves. The Shelf Stasi, we might call them, peruse the tomes in people’s private book collections and

Michael Gove misses the mark

Oh dear. Michael Gove, the minister entrusted to head up the British civil service, seems to have developed a problem with multitasking. The key government minister was giving evidence this morning to the Committee on the Future Relationship with the EU when he made an unfortunate mistake.  So engrossed was Gove in the point that he was making that he managed to pour the contents of his water jug all over his phone and papers – just as Hillary Benn was pouring cold water all over his evidence. Let’s hope that Gove is more effective at juggling his various briefs…

Gove threatens to scrap Brexit talks by the summer

Michael Gove has spent the morning updating MPs on the government’s official Brexit position. Following a series of speeches in recent weeks from senior members of the government, Gove confirmed in the chamber that the UK is seeking ‘regulatory’ freedom from the EU. He said that the UK should not be subject to EU rules under a free trade agreement – but added that he believed the UK government would go further than EU rules on the environment. In a bid to win over the EU to the benefits of agreeing a free trade deal on the UK’s terms, Gove said it would allow the EU to benefit from ‘the

What have you changed your mind about? A Spectator Christmas survey

Grayson Perry In 1992 I created a graphic novel called Cycle of Violence. Reading it now, the initially striking thing is that it predicts the rise of cycling culture in the UK and a working-class boy called Bradley winning the Tour de France. But it mainly reflected the state of my mind at the time — it contained a lot of perverted sex, dysfunctional parenting and mercilessly mocked the process of psychotherapy. In 1992 our daughter Flo had just been born and my wife Philippa seemed to have read every parenting book under the sun. Our house was full of the jargon and ideas associated with psychotherapy. Words and phrases

Revealed: David Cameron’s ‘Gove protocol’

When Michael Gove was welcomed back into government this year and appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, some wondered if Boris Johnson was really wise to trust his old nemesis with the serious business of government. After all, Gove both ran against the PM in the recent leadership contest and, infamously, stabbed him in the back after the Brexit vote in 2016. But if Boris is looking for inspiration about how to handle his colleague, it appears that there are other prime ministers who might be able to help. David Cameron for one apparently distrusted Gove so much he developed his own protocol for managing his Chief Whip. In

‘Cameron was a bloody good prime minister’: Michael Gove interviewed

Michael Gove stands in front of an empty throne in the magnificent Cabinet Office room. George III was the last monarch to use it and there it has stayed, beneath his portrait. For a second, it looks like Gove is about to sit in it and grant us an audience, but he’s only leaning over to show off the royal crest. At the other end of the room stands a large television which, a few hours before we meet, was used by Gove and other ministers to watch Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling. From the madness of King George III, to the humiliation of Boris Johnson. As the minister in charge

David Cameron makes life awkward for Boris Johnson and Michael Gove

Oh dear. Relations between Boris Johnson and Michael Gove could become a bit awkward this week after an extract from David Cameron’s memoirs published today in the Times revealed that the current PM asked Cameron whether Gove was “a bit cracked”. Johnson apparently inquired about the mental wellbeing of his now close cabinet colleague after Gove jumped ship and decided to mount his own leadership campaign following Cameron’s resignation in 2016. Cameron has not held back in targeting his former friends and colleagues in his autobiography which will be published later this week. In other extracts published by the Times, he said Boris only backed Leave to help his career and he

Striking the wrong note | 18 July 2019

Every summer for the past six years, Bayreuth has risen to its feet to acclaim an English Brünnhilde. Catherine Foster, from Nottingham, was the heroine of Frank Castorf’s anti-capitalist staging of Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle. The director was booed to the rafters, the singer hailed as saviour. Three perfectionist conductors, Kirill Petrenko, Marek Janowski and Christian Thielemann, insisted on her return each year. Across Europe, Foster commands the roles of Elektra, Isolde, Senta (Flying Dutchman) and Turandot. At 44, she is approaching her vocal prime. So it is a bit odd to find that no British company has offered her a leading role, or presently plans to do so. Six

The Spectator’s Notes | 20 June 2019

Boris and his team made a mistake by agreeing to take part in Tuesday’s BBC leadership debate. In such decisions, candidates must be absolutely ruthless. It does not matter whether one is accused of ‘running away’ if one does not take part. The only question is, ‘Will going on X improve the candidate’s chances with the relevant electorate?’ The relevant electorate in the Tory leadership campaign is 1. MPs and 2. party members. Nobody else matters, except inasmuch as wider opinions affect those who vote. Boris could easily have reached MPs without going on the BBC debate. He can less easily reach party members, but even then, he can find more

Katy Balls

The Boris campaign get the leadership final they hoped for

There will be sighs of relief in the Boris Johnson camp this evening after Jeremy Hunt won the second spot on the members’ ballot. It’s no great secret that the Foreign Secretary was Johnson’s preferred opponent. Boris allies were concerned that a contest against a candidate like Michael Gove (or, worse still, Rory Stewart) could be bruising and rather hostile. With Gove a very able debater, Johnson would likely have been pressed on the Brexit detail on a nightly basis. Even Jeremy Hunt’s allies appear to admit he is an easier candidate to go up against. Ahead of the final vote sources close to the Hunt campaign were warning that