Michael Gove is Paul Dacre's new pin-up
By Paul Goodman
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My evidence for the claim? The following:
- Simon Heffer's column this morning, headed: "Could this man save Britain's schools?" Heffer is neither an enthusiast for the Government nor an easy man to impress, and I have never pictured him as honorary president of the Gove fan club. But his article on the Education Secretary's major education speech earlier this week, which Matthew Barrett summarised on this site yesterday, goes so far as to refer to Gove's "vision". He writes: "Mr Gove’s remarks were the most outspoken defence of rigorous academic standards since fellow Tory John Patten occupied his office almost 20 years ago." In Heffer Towers, this is high praise.
- The presentation of Heffer's column (see above). On the Daily Mail website, the headline reads as follows: "Could this man save Britain's schools (and be the next Tory leader)?" The words in brackets are missing from the headline above the article itself. And I can find no reference in the latter to Gove's suitability or otherwise to lead the Conservative Party. A sub-editor must have inserted the words. Or someone even more important. Dear Education Secretary: somebody up there likes you.
- Yesterday morning's Daily Mail front page. Speeches by politicians struggle to get any coverage in any paper. Let alone favourable coverage. Let alone favourable front page coverage. Let alone favourable front page coverage in the Daily Mail. But Gove's speech managed the feat, under the blazing headline: "Restore elitism to our schools." "An extraordinary speech...his impassioned celebration of elitism ...Mr Gove made a broader attack on the coarsening of public debate": the report says. And it is packed with copious quotation - rare in any media outlet.
- Gove's autobiographical piece earlier this month about adoption policy. I am repeating myself, but articles by politicians struggle to get any coverage in any paper. The Mail takes them very, very rarely. But it took this one - perhaps not surprisingly, since it was superbly crafted and exceptionally moving. "You could say I’ve lived a lie all my life," the Education Secretary began. "...Michael is the name on my passport, bank card and driving licence. But if I’m honest, it is an assumed identity. I was not born Michael, but Graeme." Do read the rest of it.
No Fleet Street paper projects a worldview with as much power and confidence as the Mail. It flows from the paper's Editor, Paul Dacre, and saturates the product. So its sympathy for the Education Secretary is worth noting. He is a wiser choice than Dacre's previous politicianly passion, Gordon Brown.