The many and various ways I pass the time now has a new addition. Usually it involves drinking coffee whilst sitting at a computer keeping in touch with chums, or sipping wine sitting on our tiny terrace catching the sun, and wondering what else I can do to avoid any cleaning or tidying or putting away of stuff and things that aren't even MINE. And now I am going to type this blog. Provided that doesn't become a chore as well, in which case...

Monday, 13 May 2013

Oh, That Ghastly Godawful GOVE...(contd)

First off, I need to fill in some background for those of my readers and followers who do not now live in the UK, or maybe have never lived in the UK, or if they have it is all so long ago it greatly predates May 2010, when this government, this Coalition Government (not Conservative Government - that party did not win a working majority, remember) was formed and took over the running of the country.

So here is a link to the Wikipedia article about Michael Gove, the present Secretary of State for Education.

And that is the first point I should like to raise, the little matter of a tiny grammatical splitting of hairs; he is Secretary of State FOR Education, not OF Education, a distinction he seems singularly to have lost sight of in the past three years that he has been in the job.

FOR implies service, an immense effort given to a greater cause than oneself.  OF suggests a personal fiefdom, a power base, a launching pad. 

I think few of us now have any illusions how Michael Gove sees it, even after disingenuously claiming earlier this year that he knew his limitations and declaring he would never lead the party or be PM.

Not after yesterday, anyhow, when he was the first to break ranks with the cabinet and voiced his willingness for the UK to leave the EU if the present terms of membership are not renegotiated to his satisfaction.  While the PM is away in the USA.

Of course, a degree in English from Oxford, which Gove has, will make anyone who has undergone one very careful to use the exact right word in the exact right place, and not misquote even by one very short word, as the dons there would be all over it like a rash if one did.  So I doubt Gove has ever used the OF word, but he sure as hell implies it every time he opens his mouth to give an interview or a speech.  His entire demeanour and manner says it loud and proud.  I am in charge.  I know best.  My team of "advisers" at the MforE (especially on Twitter) will stop at little or nothing by way of dirty tricks to discredit critics.  I will be as scathing as I like about any opposition to my plans, views and ideology.  I will undermine my detractors, and abuse and refuse to listen to any teacher who isn't in my camp.  Any teacher active in a union, especially.

Months and months of this has lead to something that has NEVER happened before.  At Easter, when the teaching unions hold their conferences during what could have been (if they weren't union reps and shop stewards) a well-earned rest from the chalk face to recharge their depleted batteries, the three main teaching unions voted in favour of a Vote of No Confidence in Michael Gove as Secretary of State for Education.

One-day strikes have also been voted for to take place this year as well, on the issue of alterations to teachers' terms and conditions (especially changes to pensions), but he has so far refused to talk to anyone from the unions in any meaningful or receptive way in advance of the the strikes taking place.  This year even the slightest moves towards conciliation or compromise seem to be alien concepts in the MforEd, despite his embarrassing u-turns in the past.

I think that's all I want to say.  I don't like his My Way or The Highway approach, his bookish-boy-at-the-front-of-the-class-with-his-hand-up-showing-off-what-he-has-memorised demeanour, and his yadda yadda bad manners in cutting across and not listening to his critics.  I don't like him, and it's unusual for me to dislike people I have never met.  But I will happily make an exception in his case, as I mistrust him even more than I mistrust the average politician.  He has an agenda, and his agenda is the political advancement Michael Gove, and very little else.  All the rest is attracting what he believes and hopes is mass support - not just for his educational "reforms", but for Michael Gove now and in the future.

To stray into the openly ad hominem I also cannot stand his conceited, insufferable, cocky-little-sixth-former, freshly-scrubbed but foolish face. Does his wife wipe it with a damp facecloth and smooth down his hair as he leaves the house of a morning?  The way Sarah Vine writes so revealingly and yet flippantly about their marriage, and how she infantalises him for fun in her column in The Times, I shouldn't be at all surprised.

But he can't help what's been put on the front of his head, I suppose, apart from the expressions he pulls (and there are a fair few unfortunate photos of those if you want to Google them). 

But he sure as hell can help what he is plotting inside his head.  And plotting he is - you mark my words.  Just watch this space...

...his being Scottish, and a graduate of English, I'm moved to assume he has often read Macbeth.  In which case, if I am right, I think he'd be wise to re-read the last act in particular, before he imagines seeing daggers before him and loses his tenuous, overblown, narcissistic and deluded connection with reality altogether.

Now I have got all that off my well-endowed chest, I have been reminded by this brilliantly funny
piece in The Indy-Pendy over the w/e, that the best way to reduce the size of a looming problem or an issue that is bugging you is to laugh heartily at it, shrink it in size through mirthful light-hearted derision, and then go to the pub for a halfway decent lunch with some wonderful friends who make you ROAR;


  1. Hari OM
    BwwahhhhhHhhaaahh aaa-- and I love your teacher's descriptions of the suspicious student!!! (I just snorted. That's good for you. Not for me...)

    Certainly not a pinup boy, is he? Sad to say, I find that politicians the world over seem to be running off a clone these days. It is rare indeed to find a truly human thinker among them - and even if they start out that way, they get argy-bargied into extinction. It's a horrid job. (I have experience of this, albeit for one campaign only). The only people who can survive in it are sharks and weasels.

    Neither of those is a good thing. Yet still we vote. ...well in OZ we do. It's compulsory. At least that way we have a right to whinge.

    I can remember a neighbour in Edinburgh who did nothing but complain no matter who was in power. I know for a fact he never voted. Sorry. But that's just plain wrong. It's not that politics is any better in the Great Southern Land - but at least it IS fully representative.

    A good post and fun to read - feeling better? Loved the article BTW! YAM xx

  2. And Grandson#2 is today sitting his school-leaving SATs which include (at the shortest of notice) the new grammar test for which the teachers have been unable to prepare properly. What kind of system sets a new exam without giving the children time to be taught the subject matter and methodology? Not that they haven't been taught any grammar - just not in this very formal way. Sigh....

    To add insult to injury as far as DD is concerned, her eldest son will be sitting the new-style non-modular GCSEs next year without as yet having had ANY practice in this kind of exam, as of course his school has been teaching to the modular pattern, which examines very differently. Another sigh...

    It's such a dog's breakfast and all because we have a Minister who is living in a past which vanished for the rest o us decades ago! Nothing wrong with trying to rediscover the best bits of it, but not all at once or in such a disorganised fashion.

  3. Whe I took my PGCE at Oxford between 1989-90 the NC was all brand spanking new and not yet fully operational. The word grammar had been ousted in favour of the term Knowledge About Language, which was intended, in line with academic thinking of the time, to be as much descriptive (dialects, modes of discourse, etc) as proscriptive (accepted standard sentence structures and some linguistic terminology).

    Now the word grammar has been re-instated, so the Old Farts who read the Telegraph and the Mail are happy, I suppose. Not the 11+ and grammar schools they really crave for their precious grand-kids, that ship has sailed and no-one has the will or the funding to reinstate them, but the next best thing, mebbe. ONE magic word from the past - (proscriptive) grammar - and they will be all nodding sagely and clapping. And applauding GOVE.

    He is SUCH an operator. Some of his ideas I could give time and credence to, but the manner and mode of delivery is nothing but alienating. How does he expect to "raise standards" without the teachers on side? This more than anything, his utter refusal to consult fully and negotiate, makes me realise he doesn' want to be, will not be satisfied to be, a mere Mfor/ofEd for very much longer.

    It all stinks. Teachers I know are struggling to stay afloat all day, and grinding their teeth all night. Teachers have children TOO, but when can they spend quality time with their own kids in this new regime?