While the Queen’s Speech is duly digested by the body politic, a potential divergence of views between Home Secretary Theresa May and Michael “Oiky” Gove is being talked up by the press, all because the subject is more of those Scary Muslims we are all supposed to be frightened of, because they do extreme things like not going out of a weekend and getting wasted.
Yes, "Oiky", you are damaged goods
This also gives a superb example of the Fourth Estate’s ability to pre-judge issues beforehand, to create a narrative so that their readers know exactly what to think about particular issues, so the Maily Telegraph tells of “Extremism in Birmingham schools ... Islamist infiltration of schools ... ‘Trojan Horse’ plot by Islamist extremists ... a small group of fanatical Muslims have infiltrated a number of schools”.
It could almost be out of the playbook used so often by Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse): embellish the narrative so that it becomes indistinguishable from fact. No report has yet been published on the Ofsted inspections into a number of schools in Birmingham, although that publication is imminent. So what is Gove up to, apart from telling that Ms May is “a superb Home Secretary”?
As usual with “Oiky”, he is batting on a distinctly sticky track with his attempt to dump responsibility for “draining the swamp” of extremism (another less than subtle reference which is going to do community relations no favours at all) on the Home Office. In Gove world, religious influence in schools, and Islam, are easily separated. In the real world, this is complete bunk.
Small wonder that Ms May has been forthright in her letter to him: “How did it come to pass, for example, that one of the governors at Park View was the chairman of the education committee of the Muslim Council of Britain? Is it true that Birmingham city council was warned about these allegations in 2008? Is it true that the Department for Education was warned in 2010? If so, why did nobody act?”
What she might have usefully added was that the trust running Park View school was allowed to take responsibility for Nansen Primary only two years ago – so, if the DfE was warned in 2010, why has it not taken action until now? Even Benedict “famous last words” Brogan at the Tel has figured out that Ms May “is angry about the way Mr Gove has tried to blame her”.
Indeed, Brogan suggests “Some say the shine has gone off the Education Secretary”, which is a marvellous understatement. “Oiky’s” love of Free Schools has seen that programme go over a billion notes over budget. His apparent interference in new curricula has been ridiculed. And he has single-handedly alienated more or less the entire teaching profession. Extremism didn’t do any of that.
Not even his press pals can gloss over the fact that Gove is damaged goods.