THE BLOG

Michael, As a Friend, Don't Do This

05/07/2016 11:51

I find myself feeling in inconsolably sad.

Not because the country has forgone both financial security and a place at the top table, for the comfort of home-grown xenophobia. But because last week saw one good friend and former flatmate, Michael Gove, fillet and broil another, Boris Johnson, and for what?

Nick Boles, yes another flatmate, switched from running one campaign to the running other without blinking, the man in the shadows carrying the scabbard. I feel like a child caught in a divorce.

I always suspected Michael wanted to be Prime Minister. It's not like he had a choice really. Not because "Boris was inept so the country needed a true leader", the fatal blow, but because loving and, it has to be said, lovely wife Sarah, who 'accidentally mis-sent' an email championing her hubby to the world, laying the ground to make the decision to stand look like a move of conscience, loves a challenge. She's amazing.

Gove, like Boles, is studied in political manoeuvring 'House-of-Cards-styley". We all are. There are four simple rules:

1. Don't announce first, appear to rise up from like a Phoenix through the mayhem.

2. Seem 'reluctantly called to office'. "by necessity/greater calling than my needs/ambition etc".

3. Explain this decision to in the context of others failings "I've come to realise that no one else can do it".

4. Deal with any negatives head on and turn them into positives. "Nobody likes me - but that's because I'm effective".

Michael's entry was pretty textbook, lacking only the acting skills of Kevin Spacey. (guidance note 4 "if this seems a bit off, its because I am not glamorous").

I'd like to say these games all started when they all met at Oxford. In fact I suspect they all went to the same nursery. Egalitarianism has its limits even in Michaels world.

Arrive-eth Theresa May. In stark contrast, she just got up on a podium, the first to announce and then wasn't "reluctantly called to office". She just said it: 'I want the job and I think I can do it'. End speech. Shocking.

I've always found Theresa wooden, stayed and a little 'small c conservative' for me. I'm sure she would describe this as 'dependable'. Suddenly, these qualities shine out as a refreshing alternative to the self confessed Machiavellians I choose to dine with.

Don't get me wrong, I quite like the idea of Michael being Prime Minister. His wife and I chat on Facebook I (note if you do get in - I want my long awaited invite to Checkers).

The thing is I wish Michael had just conceded that being Prime Minister is every MP's dream, whatever they say. There isn't even a sandal-wearing Liberal or Left Socialist who isn't secretly waiting to be discovered with a tap or a whisper, 'It's you'.

Instead Michael enabled 'guidance note 3'. Taking Boris down and using his incompetence as 'the reason he had to lead us instead'.

Boris didn't look like he could be Mayor but did wonderfully. A scruffy over-weight little Etonian shouldn't really be popular with us comprehensive plebs, but we love him. Boris muddles though amazingly and would have found a consolatory tone and approach to Brexit. Even I love him despite hating him for winning the Brexit campaign and yes - and that was him too.

The thing is, telling us that you, in contrast, have 'a 5000 word plan and the leadership to carry this out' is no great comfort either. Especially when you add, it took you just one evening to write it! And dealing with the biggest negative, you confess you are 'unpopular' but "because I am a leader".

People have judged you on your record as education minister and i find few who are terribly pleased about your reforms. I think that may be the reason if I'm honest.

After all, I know you won't see it as a criticism when I say you undid reforms and sent our schools back to darker times. The reason that's this worried me is that it now fails to recognise the more evolved, inclusive nuanced world that allows differently-smart kids, not just book smart, to be recognised. As a dyslexic with a challenging childhood, I would be a factory worker in your world. Your ambition for a "truly equal Britain" only available to the bookish.

Now, with Brexit we need a steady hand to stem the problems. Property prices are plunging as talent looks for foreign shores. This is fact not hysteria. Our tax take has already fallen eating the bogus £350m a week we were supposed to be saving for our NHS. And the Pound languishes along side our credit rating with any hope of repaying the deficits. Sorry I didn't mean to rant. It's just such a worry and we need a nuanced response. We all know about you and nuance!

It would be good to have a Prime Minister not so obsessed with being "tough on immigration". London, the main recipient of immigrants, voted overwhelmingly to remain recognising that these guys are almost three times more likely to have a degree than Brits (paid for by other countries). They contribute billions more than they take in benefits. I only hope that George Osborne cuts to corporation tax are enough to stop the 70s style "brain drain" we're already seeing. Bankers through to scientists running for cover.

As a friend, I would ask you to unite behind Theresa, almost as strongly as Corbyn should resign and allow someone to oppose.

You have your Leave vote. Now we need balance calm and more, we need it quickly. Dragging this out means we can't mend. Enough lives have been broken this week.

Comments

CONVERSATIONS