Saturday, 14 September 2013

The dark side of Michael Gove, another bad week for Ed Milliband and RIP Mr After 8.

Despite the fact that the spoken word is the main tool of their trade politicians say some of the stupidest things. Take Education Secretary Michael Gove, who this week put his foot squarely in his mouth when he said that families turn to food banks due to a ‘failure to manage their finances’; or being poor as we humans call it.

Speaking in the commons he said he had recently visited a food bank in his constituency and that whilst he appreciated ‘there are families who face considerable pressures’ the situation they find themselves in is ‘often the result of decisions that they have taken which mean they are not best able to manage their finances.’ Yes Michael you’re quite right, it is all the fault of the poor, they just aren’t trying; unlike you who’d try the patience of a saint.

Citizen’s Advice Bureau chief executive Gillian Guy called Mr Gove’s comments ‘appalling’, adding that people are often ‘ashamed they have had to turn to food banks’. Quite so, nobody would consider queuing up for food aid in an advanced industrial nation a lifestyle option to which they aspire.

Anyway Michael Gove is the last person to be handing out financial advice, a couple of years ago he had to repay £7000 in wrongly claimed expenses. The old line about people who live in glass houses not throwing stones springs to mind.

Michael Gove has always been a high profile politician, always on hand to feed the media with quotes, as is often the way with such people he has come to believe his own publicity, to think that he is a ‘national treasure’ and so doesn’t have to bother with the niceties observed by littler men. It is sad when this happens to any politician; that is has happened to this one is downright tragic.

Despite the relentless self promotion and the endless gimmicks Michael Gove, as the adopted son of working class parents who has even had a real(ish) job, brings much needed balance to a cabinet stuffed with Oxbridge educated ninnies. Now he seems to have been infected with the sense of entitlement and cosseted ignorance of the shocks and scares of life as lived by ‘ordinary’ people rising above the Cameron government like the stench over a rubbish tip.

He shouldn’t get too comfortable; he isn’t and never can be part of the inner circle. His cabinet colleagues no doubt consider him to be a ‘jolly useful little man’, but not the sort of person they’d invite round for cocktails at Christmas. When they get tired of him he’ll be dropped back into obscurity without a second thought.

Sara Vine, Michael Gove’s wife and a newbie columnist for the Daily Mail wrote this week that it had ‘been hell’ having her husband under her feet all Summer. If he goes on saying things like this she could have him there all year round.

Things are looking bad for not so Red Ed; his personal poll ratings have dipped to an all time low, putting him on a level equivalent to that reached by Tory disasters William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith.

The poll conducted by Ipsos/Mori saw 60% of the people questioned said they were dissatisfied with the performance of the leader of the opposition. He didn’t make things any better for himself with his speech to the TUC conference on Tuesday.

What had been billed as a ‘high noon’ moment turned out to be the dampest of damp squibs. It wasn’t just that he bottled it; he did so in such a dreary fashion, even the enraged brother of the trades unions couldn’t be bothered to boo him.

As he joins them in the annals of political irrelevance Mr Ed can at least take comfort in the fact that both William Hague and IDS reinvented themselves sufficiently to enjoy ministerial careers following their disastrous tenure as party leader. There is every chance that he could do the same, but it really is time he went.

Brian Sollit, the man who invented the After 8 mint has died at the age of 74. Back in the day Abigail’s and anyone else’s party wasn’t complete without a box of mints in fussy individual wrappers on the table.

They are a chocolate coated relic of a time when every office drone was an ‘executive’ in waiting, machines were going to free us from labour and everyone would have a slice of the good life as they went down the slide into everlasting pleasure. It was all an illusion, it is so sad that we will probably never know such innocent optimism again.

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