He Thinks He Is
Extracts from Nick Clegg’s book Politics: Between the Extremes – No Mea Culpa [or something like that] are published in today’s Guardian, and these focus on then Education Secretary Michael Gove, as if Clegg’s self-righteous and self-excusing revelations that Mikey was a Machiavellian megalomaniac need telling since the very public Brexit-Boris stabbed-in-the-back treachery. How Clegg must have winced when this occurred and he knew his observations in the already completed book had instantaneously become redundant.
Of course, I have only read today’s extracts, and I can’t imagine I will want to read any more of the whole book. Part of that reason is for a couple of illustrative examples I will mention shortly, but the other is the expectation that this tome is in essence a self-indulgent self-justification for being an alleged radical coalition partner ultimately helping to support the Tory government [despite the claims otherwise] and by doing so to make their current and future existence secured. I do accept that Labour of late has helped considerably to also consolidate this likelihood.
What I found boorish in these few extracts were Clegg’s little humorous asides about Gove whilst essentially sticking his own knife in the man – though Mikey deserves whatever corrective stabs he receives. The first of these is when Clegg writes about the pair disagreeing over the future of A levels, and Nick observes of Gove: He didn’t agree – but he disagreed with amusing verve and flair, over a couple of bottles of wine. So Nick gets a little pissed and finds Michael attractive. It always seemed to me that an element of this kind of excusing caveat about Gove was consistently the significant problem: he was known to be a bastard, but he had such wit and charm and intelligence…. Yet now we all know with absolute certainty the Bastard was the primary personal characteristic.
The other attempt at comic deflection is an observation about Gove in Cabinet: Gove provided regular entertainment at cabinet meetings, with his florid, if unreasonable condemnations of the civil service. Well, yet again we all now know how much more than ‘unreasonable’ Mikey’s thoughts and feelings about others would manifest themselves. This is exactly the ruthless way in which Gove behaved when legislating for his education reforms without any regard whatsoever to opinions other than his myopic own.
No Nick, I don’t find any of this amusing. The nation’s students will always be held to account for changes Gove made to what they study, but as you are no longer in government, you would appear to feel absolved from any such responsibility.