What You Can Get Away With » michael gove

Gove’s proposed history curriculum forgets that we live in 2013, not the 1950s – Anna Claeys explains how the proposed new history syllabus is missing a huge amount of context in the rush to celebrate ‘Britishness’.
The Man Behind The Brilliant Media Hoax Of “I, Libertine” – How a night-time DJ created a non-existent literary sensation.
February 19, 1942 – The day Nazi Germany invaded Winnipeg, Canada. It happened, though maybe not in the way you’d expect.
Five Days In North Korea – A report from a trip inside the DPRK.
Run For Your Wife review – Possibly the greatest ever review of a Danny Dyer film as a fully immersive theatre performance.
Letter from the prostitute that didn’t want saving, 1858 – A fascinating slice of social history from Victorian London.

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Two interesting stories from recent weeks that show what a couple of Secretaries of State think of it:

From last month, Michael Gove wants more powers to change how schools are run, to stop people having their say over what happens to their local school.

And today, Eric Pickles has started threatening councils that don’t do what he tells them with cuts to their funding. It’s about waste collections this time, but who knows what hoops he might make councils jump through for funding in the future?

As someone once said, while talking about something other than localism: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

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One of the distinguishing traits of a senior politician is to be in possession of a circle of loquacious friends, always ready to talk to the press about things they don’t feel ready to talk about personally in public. Michael Gove’s friends have been talkative this weekend, telling the Daily Mail all about his views on the European Union.

It’s pretty much just Gove throwing a bone to the Tory Right, of course, saying he’d vote for the UK to leave to the EU, coupled with complaints about how those horrible human rights laws stop him from doing exactly what he wants. This helps us to show us how Gove suffers from two of the problems that befall many of the anti-EU brigade: first, the inability to understand the difference between the European Union, the Council of Europe, the European Convention on Human Rights and the European court; and second, the odd way in which conservatives who talk about limiting state power have an aversion to human rights conventions that protect the power of the citizen against an over-mighty state.

This is just Gove trying to shift the Overton window a few more inches to the right, rather than some major shift in Tory policy – after all, if he was serious about this he’d have said it himself at the Tory conference last week rather than leaving it to some anonymous friends to talk to the Daily Mail. However, the question we should ask if it’s all right for senior Tories to talk about ending our membership of the European Union, why is it so wrong for senior Liberal Democrats to talk about the possibility of ending the coalition?

As I talked about a few weeks ago, the party’s negotiating position in any internal Government discussions is weakened by the insistence that the Coalition must not be allowed to end early:

By saying – explicitly or implicitly – that nothing short of Cameron falling under the proverbial bus or it’s equivalent will make the Liberal Democrats walk away from the negotiating table, the party is drastically weakening its hand in any discussion. It emboldens the Tories to push further to the right, as there’s no counterforce to draw them to the centre if the Liberal Democrats have hidden their most powerful weapon in negotiations. Leaving aside my position that it should end now, I’m not saying that Clegg and Alexander should be threatening to walk out over everything, but if their counterparts don’t believe it’s possible that they will, then they’re dangerously weakened in negotiations.

In the same way that Gove doesn’t state his anti-EU views publicly, we don’t need Clegg giving regular speeches about bringing the coalition down. However, the response to something like Gove’s comments should be senior party figures (other than Lord Oakeshott) pointing out that the natural response to any Tory moves to quit the EU would be the Liberal Democrats quitting the coalition. Both domestically and internationally, the Tories are willing to do their negotiations in public, and Liberal Democrats need to be willing to do that.

If Clegg won’t do it himself, then others need to be given a licence to do so. It’s the role Vince Cable’s carried out at some times, and Chris Huhne did too, but too many other party figures seem to be too tightly wedded to the policy of not rocking the boat. As we’re seeing now over policies like rights for shares, that polite acquiescence is letting dangerous and illiberal policies head towards the statute book, and the party should be willing to fight fire with fire and match the Tory strategy. Otherwise, all the public associates us with is meekly rolling over for whatever the Tories want, unable to walk at any no matter what. The public need to know what the red lines are, and Liberal Democrat silence on them gives the impression they don’t exist.

There’s little else to learn from Michael Gove, but sometimes he’s a useful example.

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And instead of four tons of glitter, have five links instead:

How Common Is Your Birthday? – An interesting diagram showing which days of the year see the most and fewest births (data from the US only, though). Interesting to note the troughs around certain holidays and the 13th of the month.
If the younger generation won’t bother to vote, it’s no wonder the policies don’t favour them – A quite honest assessment of the situation from the Tory Reform Group blog.
Why Sacha Baron Cohen Deserves The Nobel Prize – It’s a somewhat eclectic position to take, but Gavin Polone sets out an interesting argument as to why.
Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is – I think just about everyone else has linked to this John Scalzi piece by now, but if you’re the on person left who hasn’t read it, then you probably should.
An open letter to Michael Gove – A PGCE student asks the Education Secretary exactly what he thinks he’s doing.

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Entirely set upon the Earth:

Are you writing a vampire novel, too? – PZ Myers points out one of the major flaws with the modern vampire genre
Why it matters – Blood and Treasure on where the phone-hacking story may lead
The myth of the ‘Fair Fuel Stabiliser’ – Adam Bienkov looks at the flaws behind the argument
Student Union election manifesto – The Great Unrest has a sample suitable to almost every campus. I saw several of these during my time in Unions in the 90s, so nothing ever changes.
Avert your eyes from his gaze – Phil Edwards on the rise and rise of Michael Gove

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