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Gove as a new threat? Why his new position as Chief Whip could displease many

Michael Gove, as Education Secretary, was seldom popular with the general public. I see him as a divisive figure; a Thatcherite who, like many Tory chameleons, became a Blairite later on in his career to suit the political mood. He introduced controversial reform as Education Sec, including alterations to the fundamental fabric of A-level and GCSE qualifications, as well as performance-related pay for teachers. This proves, at least somewhat, that he is a man of principles and even substance – whether you agree with his principles are at your discretion. Yet many see the current cabinet reshuffle as part of a white, middle-aged male cull, with Gove as one of the primary victims. He will now receive lower pay, and seemingly less power in the cabinet. Yet Gove, as Chief Whip, has the potential to achieve his secret goals in a way that wasn't possible as Education Secretary.

 

Anyone who has seen the excellent House of Cards, especially the original British series, will begin to understand my point. I’m not, however, comparing Gove to Francis Urquhart (or Frank Underwood, if you will). We must question what Gove will be able to achieve as Chief Whip. Famously, he’s good friends with David Cameron: personally and politically, it is said that they have much in common and can work well together. Gove has proven to be somewhat of a firebrand as Education Secretary – becoming hated by many, we could almost have seen his demotion (or promotion?) to Chief Whip from a mile off. He has proved to be an enforcer, but now he will rarely have to show his face in interviews or have a creative legislative role. But, as Margaret Thatcher once described it, Gove will be a “cabinet enforcer”. His tightly-knit relationship with the Prime Minister will mean he can channel many of his own ideas directly through the highest office in Britain.

 

 

To put it lightly: I would not be surprised if Gove became the next leader of the Conservative Party. It is not a certainty, yet it’s happened before – in real life, that is, not on Netflix. Edward Heath was once a young Chief Whip, before climbing the greasy pole to Prime Minister. It’s a position that allows you to have fingers in many pies, which is good news for Gove; it however means less involvement in debates. Gove, whilst still attending cabinet, will be able to work his way up to the top job due to decreasing involvement in the Commons, and less media scrutiny to contend with. He has the potential to become popular within his own party, to the extent that he could perceivably become the perfect candidate to replace Cameron, should he lose in the 2015 general election. He has proved himself to be a formidable politician within Cameron’s cabinet of moderates – Gove is no radical, but he is forceful and persuasive. Could he use these traits to his advantage in the future? Or is the Prime Minister simply removing an obstruction in his cabinet?

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