Once more, when Michael “Oiky” Gove could have found himself in deep doo-doo, he has been extracted by his pals in the press: his foul-ups over Free Schools and interference in the syllabus were conveniently forgotten when the “Trojan Horse” affair came along – right on cue, after being leaked to obedient hacks – and the fallout appears neutered by the reappearance of one of his former advisors.
Yes, "Oiky", that would be your polecat
Yes, back on the scene, and to the dismay of many across Whitehall who would rather he find something more productive to occupy himself, Dominic Cummings, the force that put the abuse into the @toryeducation Twitter feed, has been observed on a regular basis at the Department for Education (DfE). Here, he signs himself in under the alias of Osama bin Laden (ho ho ho).
Cummings has been shooting his mouth off – no surprise there – but this time aiming his fire at Young Dave, not that Gove has designs on the Top Job, you understand. “Everyone is trying to find out 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” whines Dom about Dave.
Harold Macmillan won a majority of 100 seats on the only occasion he led the Tories into a General Election, so, whatever Cummings’ drift, there is every reason for a party leader to revere his memory. Supermac also gained 49.4% of the popular vote – a figure that today is way beyond Cameron, however well he performs next year. In any case, Cummings is successfully drawing the press’ attention.
Typical is Benedict “famous last words” Brogan at the Telegraph, who tells “[Gove and Cummings] are friends and speak frequently. ‘Batman and Robin,’ according to one. Both say that Mr Gove was not consulted about Mr Cummings' collaboration with the Times, although the Education Secretary has clearly worked with the newspaper on their project”. That’s horseshit.
Gove is a former Murdoch journalist. It was the Times he was briefing last week when he came unstuck and then later had to apologise. His old stamping ground gets his message out there and helps shape news in his favour. And it keeps news that Gove would rather not have out there played down, such as the nugget picked up by the Independent about the Birmingham schools row.
“Elena Narozanski, then one of only two special advisers to the Education Secretary, was told in a 2010 meeting that Muslim governors were trying to destabilise headteachers and dictate the direction of secular state schools. Afterwards she ... said ... that she intended to raise the issue with Mr Gove and said ‘how interested’ he was in the subject”. Took him just four years to react, then.
But by now, everyone is looking at Cummings, and Gove is off the hook yet again.