Tag Archives: michael gove

Gove heads Ruffley probe, implied domestic abuse is ‘life choice’

Domestic violence: life choice?

With pressure building on David Ruffley, the Tory MP who accepted a caution for assaulting his partner, what better person to investigate the matter than new chief whip, Michael Gove. Errrr …

This from last November:

“Women’s Aid is challenging statements made by Michael Gove in a speech on reforms to social care which, it says, imply that domestic violence is a ‘life choice’ that women should take responsibility for. Women’s Aid is highlighting that it is not ‘ideology’ or a lack of personal responsibility which makes women seek help from social workers to escape domestic violence, but a real fear for their safety.”

This from the party which tried to put the sister of someone accused of protecting a paedophile in charge of a child abuse probe.

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.

The worst of Dominic Cummings

Dominic Cummings: Mekon

Michael Gove’s consigliere Dominic Cummings — dubbed ‘The Mekon’ by DfE staff owing to his apparent resemblance to the arch enemy of comic book hero Dan Dare — is back on quotable form with an assault on Number 10 splashing The Times (£).

On David Cameron:

“As Bismarck said about Napoleon III, Cameron is a sphinx without a riddle … Everyone is trying to find the secret of David Cameron but he is exactly what he appears to be. There’s no mystery to him. He had a picture of Macmillan on his wall — that’s all you need to know.”

While chief of staff Ed Llewellyn is dubbed:

“a classic third-rate suck-up-kick-down sycophant presiding over a shambolic court”

Perhaps it’s worth reprising some of his other, errr, finest moments.

Like the time he was hand picked by Iain Duncan Smith to be his director of strategy in 2002, quit the role just weeks before Conservative Party conference and then stabbed him in the back in the Telegraph:

“Mr Duncan Smith is incompetent, would be a worse prime minister than Tony Blair, and must be replaced.”

Or his email to the Independent’s education editor, featuring a vile mental health smear on the FT’s then education correspondent — now Newsnight policy editor — Chris Cook:

“Either a) you really think that counts as ‘wrath’, in which case you shd [sic] speak to Chris Cook about a good therapist, or b) you know it’s absurd but were ordered to write something about spads and that’s the best you could do because you know I never call and shout at you.”

Or the time he called Nick Clegg is a ‘self-obsessed, revolting character’:

“He is self-obsessed, sanctimonious and so dishonest he finds the words truth and lies have ceased to have any objective meaning, and he treats taxpayers money with contempt.

“He won’t do the hard work to get policy right – all he cares about is his image. He is a revolting character. And I say that after spending 15 years in Westminster.

“Whenever Clegg gave a speech, he’d demand we spent hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money for his latest absurd gimmick. We thwarted Clegg as much as we could.”

Cummings’ approach to dealing with his opponents is one which has infected the Tory education brief as a whole. Here’s the @ToryEducation Twitter account, long thought to have been operated by Gove and allies using a journalist’s children in a botched attempt to smear them:

@toryeducation on Toby Helm's children

Prone to “volcanic outbursts”, Scrapbook hears that the former SpAd would occupy the barely used office of then education minister John Hayes making noises which led some officials to “suspect that animals were trapped inside the building”.

Gove sat on think tank’s advisory board … then DfE gave them £120k

Michael Gove Quilliam Foundation

While funding for a controversial anti-extremism body was explored by Newsnight as a proxy for tensions between Michael Gove and Theresa May last week, what has drawn less scrutiny is Gove’s role in securing a £120,000 bail out for a think tank whose advisory board he had sat on until he entered government.

The Quilliam Foundation had its ‘preventing extremism’ funding drawn down by the Home Office in 2011, after which the Department for Education stepped in. If Gove was personally involved with the decision, the intervention to rescue the enterprise would be analogous to the scandal of Nick Clegg helping to direct funds to a charity linked with his wife.

That the money was handed over in the middle of 2011 runs counter to apparently grossly misleading statements from the group’s chairman Maajid Nawazwho is also the Liberal Democrat candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn. Scrapbook picks up where blogger John Sergeant left off last week:

Here is what Nawaz said about government funding to journalists (VIDEO) and people goading him as an ‘establishment stooge’:

Maajid Nawaz on Quilliam funding

As Scrapbook readers may recall, Nawaz was then forced to, errr, nuance his position, after unexpected freedom of information requests revealed that government funding had actually continued into financial year 2011-12.

Maajid Nawaz on Quilliam funding

No one had bothered to FOI the department for education, however, which was why it was news last week that Quilliam had been awarded a £120,000 bail out from DfE in May 2011. Cue more goalpost moving:

Maajid Nawaz on Quilliam funding

But Scrapbook’s absolute favourite is this riposte to his former comrades in extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) from 23 June 2011 — just one month after their new injection of cash had dropped:

With funding from the Department for Education, of course!

SEE ALSO: Quilliam Foundation wanted taxpayer cash for EDL leader

Bitchy blue briefings: ‘scary’ Michael Gove vs ‘no friends’ Theresa May

Times front page: Gove/May extremism row

Rivalry between Theresa May and Michael Gove has exploded into the open once again — with the pair bitterly briefing against each other on the issue of extremism in schools.

With Gove attempting to outsource the blame for claims of Islamist entryism to the education system in Birmingham, May has hit back by releasing a letter with barbed questions to the education secretary (IN FULL BELOW). Meanwhile a “Home Office source” — a phrase regularly used as a euphemism for special advisers — told the Times:

“Why is the DfE wanting to blame other people for information they had in 2010? Lord knows what more they have overlooked on the subject of the protection of kids in state schools? It scares me.”

While sniping on terror began in April the public enmity between the pair can be traced back much further. In March 2013, Gove slapped May down at the Tories’ political cabinet meeting for a wide-raging speech viewed to be staking out a party leadership claim as a “realist”.

The ‘tipsy’ education secretary followed this up on 5 December when he told guests at Rupert Murdoch’s Mayfair home that Theresa May ‘had no friends’ on the Conservative benches — a claim which was briefed to the Mail on Sunday three months later.

With visitors to the Murdoch dinner table not in the habit of briefing exchanges for reasons which are perfectly obvious, Scrapbook wonders which guest could possibly have a vested interest in ensuring the discussion was leaked — and whether they had the nod from old Rupe’?


Quote of the day (middle aged Tory cabinet ministers edition)

Sarah Vine and Michael Gove

Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine’s advice on how top Tories can ditch their image as “over-educated, white middle-aged men with no real sense of normal life and a huge sense of entitlement”:

“Listen to their wives”

Scrapbook wonders which cabinet minister Michael Gove’s spouse could be thinking of?

School run by £105k Gove adviser given 2nd lowest ranking by Ofsted

Tom Shinner (inset) and Michael Gove

Readers may remember 28 year-old Conservative Tom Shinner, whose utterly farcical over-promotion to a £105,000 Whitehall director role by Michael Gove was highlighted by Scrapbook back in January.

Shinner’s original toehold in the education bureaucracy (prior to catching the Gove gravy train) was as a director/governor of Greenwich Free School, whose recent inspection enables us to evaluate his performance and that of his fellow school leaders: pretty crap.

Greenwich was given the rating of “requires improvement”, the second lowest of four gradings awarded by the schools inspectorate. Among the aspects of performance singled out for criticism was, errr, management — with Ofsted staff calling for another “external review” to assess how “aspects of leadership and governance could be improved”.

“In the schoool’s first year, arrangements for checking students’ progress did not provide leaders or governors with an accurate view of the schools performance”

What’s more, Shinner and his fellow governors appear to be in denial about issues facing the school, with Ofsted staff remarking wryly:

“Inspectors do not agree with the leadership team’s view that every aspect of the school is outstanding.”

Slow clap.

Budget 2014: Gove caught hiding after ‘Etonians’ intervention

It was perhaps inevitable that Michael Gove’s comments on the “preposterous” number of Old Etonians surrounding David Cameron — interpreted as a barb not only against Cameron but wannabe leader Boris Johnson — would make an appearance during the budget debate.

While Cameron and Gove resort to embarrassed laughter, Osborne — whose leadership hopes were boosted by the intervention — pretends to be ‘reading his own budget’.

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