The examples of that lack of “intellectual heft” which former deputy PM Nick Clegg correctly identified in both London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and Michael “Oiky” Gove are an ever-lengthening list: Gove, who decried those who have expertise, has demonstrated the lack of his own specialist knowledge in an area where one might have thought he could have done rather better.
“Oiky”, having returned to the Murdoch fold after Theresa May rightly relieved him of ministerial responsibility, has been serving His Master’s Voice admirably by pretending to read articles in the now online-only Independent, telling malicious packs of lies about them, and then waiting obediently for Creepy Uncle Rupe to throw him a biscuit. But in doing so, he has opened mouth and inserted boot in no style at all.
Siobhán Fenton (no relation) told readers the other day that “Theresa May is risking peace in Northern Ireland to pursue the anti-human rights agenda of her Little Englanders … Due to the legacy of the Troubles, Northern Ireland has more immediate need than anywhere else in the UK for a robust human rights framework - after all, human right abuses continue here to the present day”. Gove was on to it like a shot.
“The idea that the IRA is justified in returning to terror because the UK voted to leave the EU is morally delinquent nonsense” he announced triumphantly, seemingly unaware that he had just told the whole world that he was a 24-carat buffoon. So let’s take this slowly, for Gove and all his adoring followers who think this is the Acme of intellectual superiority (including the loathsome Toby Young, who obediently Re-Tweeted it).
Firstly, Ms Fenton’s article does not mention the IRA even once. The paramilitary-backing mural shown at the head of the article is in support of the Ulster Volunteer Force. Who are protestants. In other words, Gove fans, they are on the other side of the sectarian divide. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly for Northern Ireland, the article is not about leaving the EU. That’s right Gove groupies, your man even got his subject wrong.
Ms Fenton’s article is about Theresa May’s plan to scrap the Human Rights Act and withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights. This is important to Northern Ireland as the HRA and ECHR are central to the Good Friday Agreement, which underpins the settlement which effectively ended The Troubles and brought some measure of peace and stability to the province. Exiting the ECHR would collapse the GFA. It’s that simple.
Small wonder that Jolyon Maugham responded to Gove’s outburst of fundamental idiocy by reminding him “Oi, Mike! You know the article's about the ECHR don't you? And that's a different thing from the EU? And we haven't voted to leave the ECHR?” There is no more clear example of what Clegg meant by Gove’s lack of “intellectual heft”. If anything, Clegg was being kind to “Oiky”. The bloke can’t even tell his EU from his ECHR.
Michael Gove only has a towering intellect in the imaginations of Himself Personally Now, and those of his deluded followers. For everyone else, the King is Stark Bollock Naked.