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Farewell, integrity – the Michael Gove story


THERE’S a 19th century novel that could have been written by Thackeray, detailing the rise to power of a talented social climber and the subsequent destruction of his integrity, and then his mind, on the altar of his own ambition: This novel bears the title Michael Gove.  

A natural outsider to the charmed circle of the British elite, Gove’s career in government has consisted of almost perfect inverse correlation between his personal integrity and his political position, mirroring a gradual corruption all the more disturbing for its apparent irresistibility.  

Yet in this Gove himself is not entirely at fault. Rather, as in Thackeray, his personal regression only indexes the imprint of the system he has joined. 

As the Minister for Education under Cameron, Gove grasped the problem facing British schools in the aftermath of Blairite carnage, and showed himself willing, at least to some extent, of fighting the so-called Blob in an effort to correct it.  

Among his admirable proposals was to make the Civil War central to historical education: A topic of real political and social complexity, in a curriculum overdetermined by an ideological reading of the 20th century.  

Over the last 12 months, Gove’s judgment on the nature of the enemy has been vindicated. The reason why schools have not yet reopened is that the Blob is now effectively on strike.  

Nonetheless, Gove was abandoned by Cameron when the going got tough, and moved to a different department: An object lesson in political cowardice which Gove, alas, assimilated.  

Gove’s Murder in the Cathedral moment, that is, ‘the greatest treason’ of ‘doing the right deed for the wrong reason’, arrived when he opposed Johnson for Prime Minster following the Brexit referendum, an act which sadly only succeeded in delaying the inevitable.  

Once again, Gove’s instincts were correct. Johnson will be remembered as amongst the most disastrous Prime Ministers in history. 

Nonetheless, compromised by his own ambition, his impatience, his resentment, and perhaps on some level, the outsider’s lack of confidence in his own merits, his hand shook, and he missed his shot.  

Johnson walked away, injured but not dead: It is thus ultimately Gove that the public can hold responsible for the catastrophe of his accession to leadership.  

And, not coincidentally, it is also Gove to whom Johnson has turned to supply a veneer of competence in a Cabinet dominated by bimbos and sycophants like Hancock and Raab, and the unbalanced Priti Patel.  

The price of admission has been the surrender of his critical intelligence, as demonstrated by his enthusiastic support for a third lockdown, and the incineration of his moral framework.  

It is Gove who presides in the Cabinet Office over the Behavioural Insights Team, a group whose psychological warfare campaign against the British people represents one of the most naked abuses of science for political purposes since the Second World War. 

Unlike his ministerial colleagues, Gove does not have the excuse of stupidity: His defeat is entirely moral.  

Blinded by his vanity, the other side of his insecurity, what Gove does not realise is that this is a form of revenge and humiliation that Johnson, the archetype of British elite corruption, on some level enjoys.  

Thus he has now put Gove in charge of leading ‘the review’ of vaccine passports in the expectation that he will complete the surrender of his soul by smoothing the path to the birth of a CCP surveillance state in Great Britain.  

On completing this task Gove will be dispensed with: The final tragic gesture of a completely failed career. Yet here there is a certain irony. As the only minister with anything like a moral character, even if a compromised one, Gove is amongst the few politicians in Europe with the possibility of a redemption arc.  

Perhaps he could lead Britain yet, to somewhere other than complete destruction, if he is still able to locate within himself, irrespective of his faulty calculus of personal advantage, the courage to reject this monstrous proposal and tell the truth about this car crash of a government. As Thackeray puts it: ‘Bravery never goes out of fashion.’ 

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Daniel Miller
Daniel Miller
Daniel Miller is a writer.

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