When he passed before the inquisition of the host on last Sunday’s edition of The Andy Marr Show (tm), Michael “Oiky” Gove clearly felt the need to put some distance between his part of the EU referendum Out campaign, Vote Leave, and the Leave EU crowd fronted by chief Kipper Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, after the latter’s Third Reich-tinged refugee bashing poster with its pejorative title of “Breaking Point”.
What was his reaction to Mr Thirsty’s effort, Marr asked. Gove was unequivocal in his response. It made him “shudder”. Yes, Vote Leave, led by Himself Personally Now, would not be going near all that bigotry and 1930s refugee hatred, as they were just so incredibly polite and well-mannered. But then the polls started moving back - just slightly - in favour of Remain, push came to shove, and “Oiky” lost it badly.
It was the Telegraph - and there is no paper more favourable to his part of the Tory Party - that this morning told “Michael Gove compares experts warning against Brexit to Nazis who smeared Albert Einstein's work as he threatens to quit David Cameron's Cabinet”. Wait, what? He meant it: “Michael Gove has compared economic experts warning about Brexit to Nazis who smeared Albert Einstein’s scientific findings during the 1930s”.
He really went there: “I think the key thing here is to interrogate the assumptions that are made and to ask if these arguments are good … We have to be careful about historical comparisons, but Albert Einstein during the 1930s was denounced by the German authorities for being wrong and his theories were denounced and one of the reasons of course he was denounced was because he was Jewish. They got 100 German scientists in the pay of the government to say that he was wrong”.
Then, to provide some light relief, he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, when asked about his future in a Cameron Government, that “I will do exactly as the Prime Minister asks me … I want people to concentrate not on my job but on their jobs. Of course, depending on what the result is on Friday, I will reflect and I will decide what is the best course for me”. So if Remain wins, expect him to throw a mardy strop.
Not surprisingly, this faux pas detracted from the thrust of the Vote Leave campaign today, meaning there was only one thing to do: Gove had to actually apologise, something which he normally avoids, and merely demands of others. “Yes I am sorry. I was asked a direct question and I answered it in a clumsy way with an inappropriate historical analogy … I certainly didn't mean to offend anyone with that so I regret it, I misspoke and I apologise”.
After he claimed footballer John Barnes was backing his side of the argument yesterday, only to be slapped down, perhaps the campaign is getting to Gove. It isn’t going well for his pal Bozza either, with London’s former occasional Mayor being persistently heckled when he went among his adoring flock earlier, only to find them less than adoring.
But don’t forget, Michael Gove is so incredibly polite and well-mannered. Allegedly.