THE BLOG
15/11/2013 10:31 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Statesman Gove Using Murdoch Tactics to Brainwash the Public

When asked to compile a guest list for a dream dinner party, precious few would add Education Secretary Michael Gove to the usual suspects of Ghandi, Jesus, Churchill, John Lennon et al; yet in Westminster political circles Gove is a shrewd and much respected political figure, a Svengali for New Tories and a man mooted as a future leader.

Gove's Pooterish preoccupations, such as sorting out the youth of today by making them learn Latin and a complete chronological history of Britain, are often a source of fun for commentators.

A quick Vox Pop this morning on how Gove comes across to the public garnered the views "a bit of a twit", an "educated buffoon", and "a pretender".

His wife, (ex-Times, now Daily Mail) journalist Sarah Vine, doesn't exactly contradict this image, with her accounts of hapless hubby Gove's awful driving and fondness for slipping into a pair of "terracotta orange corduroy trousers" at the end of a hard day reforming public services.

We get too hung up about looks in our society. Laugh at Gove's wally exterior all you like, but any close examination of his ministerial output reveals a determined and ideologically focused politician. Russell Brand may noisily flounce around on television talking about a revolution, but silly old Michael Gove is the one who's actually doing it.

As is the case with Buffoon-in-Chief Boris Johnson, to focus on his outer shell is to miss Gove's true intellect and abilities. For all of its 'Big Society' (remember that?) electioneering, the Tories have the same political agenda they always had, shrink the public sector and expand the business opportunities of the private sector.

But because the public still remember the Thatcher years and aren't necessarily keen to go back there, these are new Tories, who are reluctant to be explicit about their real motives. Children of Thatcher but "don't mention Maggie". Like the Viz comic character Hugh Phamism, calling a spade a 'you-know-what'.

They may feel unable to say what they mean, but they mean what they say if you can be bothered to analyse the fine detail. As Russell Brand has pointed out, there is a lot of voter apathy out there. My view is Brand's wrong on joining this apathy by not voting himself, but this disinterest makes us ripe for exploitation by skilled operators like Gove.

Gove wasn't always an MP. He spent many years as part of the Murdoch empire at The Times newspaper and is not above employing News International style tactics on his opponents.

A Twitter account called @toryeducation using the standfirst Pantomime villain of leftie education folk is used as Gove's attack dog to rubbish anyone who dares to voice criticism of the minister or the Department for Education (DfE).

Earlier in the year, questions were raised about the identity of the mysteriously supportive tweeter who seemed to have so much inside information.

When the tweeter waged war on former children's minister Tim Loughton after Loughton revealed that child protection had slipped down the agenda under Gove's administration, speculation reached fever pitch that the source of the feed was coming from inside the DfE.

Would a disinterested by-stander flip their lid over Loughton's revelations? @toryeducation did, frothing "Your lies on this subject are by far the worst of anything you've done in politics & we hope nobody believes a word you say." So there.

Almost as soon as talk turned to calls for a departmental inquiry the account mysteriously took a hiatus while they were allegedly "busy with a new project", before popping back up again once the dust had settled.

It was also no coincidence that this week the DfE managed to torpedo the press conference into the findings of the Serious Case Review into the awful death of four-year-old Bradford boy Hamzah Khan by briefing Sky News journalist Gerard Tubb as the conference was starting that the report was "rubbish".

In doing so, this solemn event aimed at conveying what had been learned about how a child could die in such circumstances became nothing more than a trap door for 'failing' professionals, gleefully swung open by the DfE.

Leaking and briefing journalists is bread and butter stuff in politics; highly skilled people are paid a lot of money to brainwash the public. A few, such as Alastair Campbell, Damian McBride and now Tory strategist Lynton Crosby, sufficiently get enough journalists' goats that they become public figures themselves.

But the vast majority, like the mysterious tweeter behind @toryeducation, remain invisible. They are shaping the public consciousness, subjecting the public to a barrage of propaganda and mis-information about our most vulnerable citizens and our public sector workers in order to rubber stamp cuts to services that would have been unthinkable a few short years ago.

I do sometimes wonder how ignorant Gove thinks we all are not to see through this chicanery as he stands at a lectern wagging his finger at thousands of serious professionals.

As the man in charge and "a minister in his pomp" according to the Mail's Quentin Letts, he is certainly calling the shots. Whether he is doing anything that will genuinely raise standards in teaching or social work is far more questionable.