All the work, mainly by the right-leaning press, to hurl abuse at Mil The Younger was undone yesterday evening: the press could only look on as the BBC, ITN and Sky News (“first for breaking wind”) beamed directly into the nation’s living rooms the news that the Tories had been trying to pull a fast one on the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) vote – and had been caught out.
Yes, you, "Oiky" - it's your f*** up
This might not at first seem too significant, until you consider that Young Dave, under questioning by Miliband, fended off his enquiry by telling the Commons that there would be a vote on the EAW before the Rochester and Strood by-election. Yesterday evening was supposed to be it. But when the business put before the House was scrutinised by Speaker Bercow, he rumbled the Tories immediately.
And his words will not make comfortable reading for the whips’ office: “It may be the sort of thing that some people think is very clever, but people outside of the house expect straightforward dealing. And they are frankly contemptuous, and I use the word advisedly, contemptuous of what is not straight dealing. Let’s try to learn from this experience and do better”. Ouch!
“The sort of thing that some people think is very clever”? Who might the Speaker have had in mind? As if you need to ask: who runs the whips’ office? That would be the newly-demoted Michael “Oiky” Gove, who was such a roaring success at Education that Cameron had to move him in order to have any chance of persuading more than a small minority of teachers to vote Tory next May.
Gove loves to portray himself as being terribly clever, considerably more so than all those ghastly Labour types on the other side of the Commons. And it is either Gove, or someone with his approval, who tried to deal off the bottom of the deck – and got caught. Labour’s attempt to stop the vote being taken sent the Tory whips into headless chicken mode. Cameron was recalled from the Guildhall banquet.
Theresa May’s credibility drained away; Yvette Cooper’s, meanwhile, rocketed. And all she had to do was point to the smoke coming from Gove’s burning trousers. Even normally loyal back benchers, like Damian Green, Richard Shepherd and Jacob Rees-Mogg were contemptuous of the move. Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell, no longer silenced by party loyalty now he is a Kipper, condemned the exercise.
Gove was, despite all the spin applied by his press pals, a disaster at Education. He has been no better as Chief Whip. If Cameron has any sense, he will sack the SOB, and sack him in short order. Perhaps “Oiky” can be found a job as, oh I dunno, “Minister without portfolio but with special responsibility for briefing to his pals in the right-wing press”. It’s about all he’s fit for.
If Dave doesn’t sack him before PMQs tomorrow, he certainly will soon afterwards.