So Michael Gove continues his quest to completely torch his previous good reputation amongst conservatives and Leavers by saying that Theresa May should be left alone so can she go in her own good time.
Michael Gove has called on his colleagues to give Theresa May the “time, space and dignity” to resign on her own terms as Tory MPs prepared to urge the Prime Minister to trigger an immediate leadership election.
The Environment Secretary said Mrs May would be PM “for a while to come yet” and MPs should allow her to honour her commitment to quit once Brexit has been delivered.
Everyone has their own theory about what happened to Gove. Here’s mine. A few years ago, at the height of his education reforms, Gove became the most hated man in chattering class circles. I move in those circles a lot, and I heard everyone unloading on him with both barrels. They really hated him like no-one else at that time. He was dinner party enemy number one.
The grounds for this Gove hate, were, of course, ridiculous and hysterical, as is typical of those circles. And Gove should have regarded this as a badge of honour. The chatterati only hated him because he was refusing to stand down in the face of their wrath, like Tory Ministers usually do. They despise spineless Tory ministers who back down, but they will tolerate them; that’s their incentive. But if you don’t back down they go nuclear on you. Like with Farage and Trump. Also, Gove was actually winning. He was beating the blob. That’s unforgivable. So his name was mud amongst the educated upper-middle class.
That’s what he couldn’t take in the end. That’s his home tribe, so he would have been perfectly well aware of the score. Or maybe his wife couldn’t take it. Or maybe he just realised that this had ruined his hopes of ever being Prime Minister. He is, after all, one of those traditional politicians who still think being PM is a worthy personal aim, and something to be proud of.
So he decided to reinvent himself to unblacken his name, and to give himself a chance of being PM at a later stage. Environmentalism provided the perfect opportunity for this, because that’s something that all the upper-middle class are into, even the Tory ones. He pretends to be all affected by one of those David Attenborough docos. The idea that this conversion is for real is rather dubious, as Gove is an intelligent and cynical man who knows full well the sort of tricks the BBC gets up to.
But he sticks at it, and eventually it starts to work. He stares at Greta Thunberg as though she’s the reincarnation of Jesus, and says we must learn from her, and no-one in the media suggests that he is putting it on, and rather thickly. He is once again a thoughtful, liberal member of the better side of town, welcome once more at fancy soirees, and taken seriously as a Tory leadership canmdidate.
And you know what? If this had happened five years ago — even two years ago — it may have worked. Gove may have become PM. But now? It’s all pointless now. Gove doesn’t understand that the world he crawled his way into with so much effort is falling apart. The Tories are history, as the flipping point has happened (as I predicted recently). Nobody cares any more what the Tories do, or what they say. Gove is trying to become the leader of a ghost party.
Update: There is still the outside chance that the Tories will finally dump May, and be revitalised under the right leader, and win big in a new election. But for that to have any chance of happening the new leader must be a No Deal Leaver, and cannot be tainted by closeness to May. That rules Gove out. He’s a ghost candidate to be leader of a ghost party.