Good news for UK teachers, pupils, readers – and incidentally, fans of American literature. Michael Gove, the much-despised UK Education Secretary dismissed by Professor Simon Schama at last year’s Hay Festival for his “insulting, offensive” attitudes, and by author Patrick Ness as “appalling, ignorant and damaging” and “massive, arrogant egotist who can’t see anyone else’s opinion,” has been moved to a new post as Chief Whip, in charge of internal discipline for the UK Conservative Party in the House of Commons, as part of a cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister David Cameron.
According to David Cameron’s official Twitter feed, “Michael Gove is Commons Chief Whip. He’ll have an enhanced role in campaigning and doing broadcast media interviews.” Gove’s move is effectively a demotion, but also ensures him a high-profile position in preparations for the next UK general election. Gove apparently ran into trouble with Cameron by extending his remit into criticism of colleagues over handling Islamic extremism in Britain.
Gove has inspired perhaps more straight loathing than any British political figure in the past five years. One best-selling Jewish author actually compared him to Hitler in full Holocaust mode. Some of the more printable responses to Gove’s departure included “Thank f***ing God for that,” and “Education Secretary Michael Gove to be replaced by Wayne Rooney.” Speaking of the news, Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers & Lecturers, said:
David Cameron has belatedly realised that Michael Gove’s ideological drive is no substitute for measured, pragmatic reform of the education system. Time after time he has chased newspaper headlines rather than engage with teachers. The dismantling of the structures which support schools, the antagonism which he displayed to the teaching profession and the increasing evidence of chaos in the bodies he established, in particular the Education Funding Agency, has led Cameron to one conclusion – Gove is more of a liability than an asset.
Cameron’s feed also tweeted that: “Nicky Morgan is the new Education Secretary and continues as Minister for Women and Equalities.” Aside from the BBC’s characterization of her as “a marathon-running working mum,” there is little sign yet of what she can bring to the job in practical, versus presentational, terms.
I have one personal confession to make on this news: Michael Gove is a Scot, born in Aberdeen. And it shames me that someone from my own nation, famed for its love of education and learning, could preside over such stupidity in the UK.