After Young Dave decided to retire to his study with the pearl-handled revolver and bottle of reassuringly expensive Scotch, the runners and riders assembled for the inevitable Tory leadership contest. One participant, whether candidate or kingmaker, would be Michael “Oiky” Gove. Another would be London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. Might the two Men Who Would Be King even run a joint ticket?
A real man of the people
That was clearly the thought weighing heavily on the mind of Sarah Vine, aka Mrs Gove, on Wednesday morning when she emailed someone - perhaps “Oiky” himself - and somehow managed to send her thoughts to someone who was not the intended recipient. The contents lay bare the selfish, delusional and grasping nature of this appallingly unappealing couple - and that their loyalty is not to their country, or fellow citizens.
Here’s what Ms Vine said: “Very important that we focus now on the individual obstacles and thoroughly overcome them before moving to the next … I really think Michael needs to have a Henry or a Beth with him for this morning’s crucial meetings … One simple message : you MUST have SPECIFIC assurances from Boris OTHERWISE you cannot guarantee your support”. And there was more.
The real power behind the throne
“The details can be worked out later on, but without that you have no leverage … Crucially, the membership will not have the necessary reassurance to back Boris, neither will Dacre/Murdoch, who instinctively dislike Boris but trust your ability enough to support a Boris/Gove ticket … Do not concede any ground. Be your stubborn best … GOOD LUCK.”
The “Henry” and “Beth” are Gove’s advisors Henry Cook and Beth Armstrong.
What to make of this missive? One glaring omission in Ms Vine’s train of thought is that there is no mention of the public, or indeed the EU referendum, the result of which led the Goves to this point. It’s all about Themselves Personally Now.
Sarah Vine's "accidentally leaked" email
It is also abundantly clear that on Bozza, the Goves are not particularly close friends of him - his inner circle, and indeed his family, call him Alex - and that they do not consider the former Mayor to be trustworthy.
Ms Vine touches, moreover, on the trust issue being a wider problem with Johnson.
But worst, she admits that the people who she and her husband want to impress are not the voters, not the Square Mile, not manufacturing industry, not the burgeoning technology sector, but Rupert Murdoch, an interfering foreigner who holds a US passport and does not have the vote in this country, and the Daily Mail’s legendarily foul mouthed editor Paul Dacre, who represents the Rothermere press, owned by an offshore company.
That is the level to which our democracy has sunk.
The "Oiky" declaration
But there is even worse to come: those discussions evidently did not produce a conclusion satisfactory enough for the Goves to go along with a Bozza candidacy. Ridiculous as it may seem to us mere mortals, Michael Gove has decided to disown his fellow Vote Leave leader and run for the Tory leadership himself.
That makes it more than possible that Sarah Vine’s accidental leak of that email was anything but.
It also confirms the suspicion that Bozza has accumulated too much hostility over the years through his dishonesty and lack of principle, and perhaps too many skeletons in the cupboard through his considerable philandering, to get himself into Downing Street without his campaign being derailed by scandal of some sort.
So Gove has told the world “I wanted to help build a team behind Boris Johnson … But I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead … I have, therefore, decided to put my name forward for the leadership”.
To many voters, Michael Gove is not credible as a potential Prime Minister. But in the looking glass world of him and his selfish, grasping wife, the little people out there can go hang. They are irrelevant. The important people are an interfering foreigner and a ranting, swearing, intolerant bully. They are the ones to whom the Goves owe loyalty. Securing their endorsement, they clearly believe, will put them in Downing Street.
Sarah Vine’s email, and her husband’s equally selfish actions, show you all that is wrong, all that is corrupt, all that is unreal about Westminster politics. She never ran for elective office, yet is calling the shots. Murdoch isn’t British, yet he is courted for the power he holds. Dacre is a vile and hypocritical bigot, but those who seek power are obliged to pay homage to him. And this is, for too many people, called normal.
I give you the Goves: two people whose contribution to the British economy has been not unadjacent to Sweet Jack Shit, freeloading their way to the top, their eyes on the main chance and without the first idea what to do when they get it. No change there, then.