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:
£2M EDUCATION CONTRACTS TO 25 YEAR-OLD TORY ADVISER
Gove didn’t trust civil servants to deliver his Free Schools policy. So he awarded a £500,000 contract — ditching 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.
SHOE-HORNING TORIES INTO THE CIVIL SERVICE
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
DfE BOARD: TORY DONORS AND 28 YEAR-OLD ON £105,000
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 Exchange, Theodore 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.