Tag Archives: James Frayne

Tory donor for OFSTED? The 8 cronies that Gove already appointed

Michael Gove

While claims that Michael Gove will replace the chair of Britain’s schools inspectorate with a Tory donor splashed the papers earlier this week, regular Scrapbook readers may have been less than surprised — as the education secretary is absolutely shameless in placing Tories in supposedly non-political roles.

Leaving genuine political advisers to one side, here’s a run-down of his cronies:


Gove didn’t trust civil servants to deliver his Free Schools policy. So he awarded a £500,000 contractditching the tendering process designed to ensure impartiality — to his 25 year-old former adviser Rachel Wolf. This was followed up by another £1.5m contract. New Schools Network is now led by the former deputy director of Policy Exchange, the think tank founded by Gove.


While the rest of Whitehall endured a money-saving freeze on external recruitment, Gove ignored this to pack his comms team with true believers:

  • James Frayne was formerly campaigns director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance before being brought in to be director of communications
  • Six months later Gabriel Milland was appointed DfE head of news from Policy Exchange, the think tank which Michael Gove founded

In March 2011, Gove again flouted a civil service recruitment freeze in order to advertise externally for two speech writers. Can you hazard a guess where they came from?

  • In a transparent ruse, Elena Narozanski left as his special adviser in February 2011 before being re-appointed as one of the speech writers a month later.
  • Alexandra Gowlland was a former researcher for Tory minister Nick Gibb. She is still the DfE’s chief speech writer and head of the visits team


Gove’s enforced partisanship extends to the highest levels of the department:

  • Board member John Nash was a £300,000 Tory donor and was eventually ennobled to become a Lords education minister in 2013
  • As a Tory donor and a trustee of Policy ExchangeTheodore Agnew is doubly blessed
  • You don’t have to be a donor though. Former Tory HQ staffer Tom Shinner was over-promoted to be the department’s £105,000 director of strategy — a role usually requiring years of senior civil service experience.

OFSTED staff could be forgiven for ordering a ‘David Ross’ door name plate already.

Michael Gove’s turf war with civil service paved way for email leak

Department for Education emails leaked in today’s Guardian reveal how key government work has been farmed out to partisan allies of Michael Gove at the controversial New Schools Network. But this isn’t the first time the secretary of state has attempted to bypass his own department’s civil servants.

Back in March, as we reported, Gove flouted the civil service recruitment ban by advertising externally for two speechwriters. Emails released in response to a freedom of information request show that the move was initially blocked by junior minister Lord Hill, but opposition was soon quashed, and Gove was able to hire Alexandra Gowlland — a former researcher for Tory minister Nick Gibb — along with Elena Narozanski, who worked as his special adviser barely a month before the positions were advertised.

In February, James Frayne — a former campaigns director for the Taxpayers’ Alliance, and another key Gove ally (he features on the acknowledgements page of Gove’s book Celsius 7/7) — was brought in as Director of Communications after the veteran Caroline Wright took voluntary redundancy. And only last week, Gabriel Milland of Policy Exchange was appointed head of news, replacing Lee Bailey, who left in May “without a new role lined up”.

Gove will be insisting that teachers are Tories next.

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