We don’t need this fascist Gove thing (revisited)

Michael Gove is rapidly becoming our favourite Tory disaster area. We’ve brought this up before, of course. But it is lovely to watch our comrades on the Labour front benches toying with him like a cat with a mouse.

Yesterday was a splendid case in point. Comrade Andy Burnham managed to lay into the entire Gove family (Secretary of State Michael, and his gruesome Times-journalist wife Sarah Vine) in an excellent exchange in the debate on EMA.

Comrade Burnham struck all the right notes in defending the maintenance payments that the government are so keen to scrap. But he struck even better notes when he laid into the scribblings of the Goves: his wife’s Polly Filla-esque nonsense, and his own past Murdoch-sponsored ramblings. Here, lifted straight from Hansard (go and read the whole debate if you have a minute – 19th January, Column 871) is the section of Comrade Burnham’s speech that really got up Gove’s nose:

“However talented those young people [students in FE] are, they cannot live off thin air. They cannot have a part-time job and walk miles to college and still get straight A’s. I wonder whether he [Gove] has much idea of what their lives are like. In 2003, he wrote an article in The Times that acquires a new significance in the light of this debate. He wrote that

    “anyone put off from attending a good university by fear of that debt doesn’t deserve to be at any university in the first place.”

Those are difficult sentiments for an Education Secretary to be associated with, as are these, which appear in the same article:

    “Some people will, apparently, be put off applying to our elite institutions by the prospect of taking on a debt of this size. Which, as far as I’m concerned, is all to the good.”

How genuine is his commitment to those people who want to get in to Oxbridge?

I have worries about the Secretary of State’s elitist instincts, but I read in The Times last week another interesting piece-from Mrs Gove-which contains insights from home that raise further questions about whether he is living in the same world as the rest of us- [ Interruption. ] He should listen to this. She says:

    “Like all angst-ridden working mothers, I live in terror of upsetting my cleaner.”

Angst-ridden mums in Leigh talk of little else. I sympathise with Mrs Gove’s predicament, but I wonder whether the Secretary of State could pass on a bit of advice to all the wives of his Cabinet colleagues who fret about the same curses of modern living. May I respectfully suggest that the best way to stay on the right side of the cleaner might be not to clean the oven oneself, but to press one’s other half not to remove the cleaner’s kids’ EMA?”

Now, we’ve had cause to praise Comrade Burnham before, when he surprised us all during the leadership race by using the “S”-word. But this kind of forensic attack on Tories is the kind of thing we love. We’re used to it from Balls. But Burnham is wearing his Tory-loathing credentials on his sleeve now, and we love that. It’s not enough just to attack Tory politicians. If their partners make right-wing-clowns of themselves, you have to attack them too.

Comrade Burnham – your name will be on the guest list for the DDR of R&B tomorrow night. Friday 21st January, Half Moon Putney. Thee Faction are in action. Come and watch us sing and play.



  1. Witackman – 100% on your side. There is probably no more meaningful word in our vocabulary. And we can certainly appreciate your concern about trivializing it.. We believe we don’t, of course.. We confer ‘comrade’ status, with perhaps a degree of irony at times,on those labour politicians who do things that we approve of. We withdraw it when they don’t. Of course we don’t believe that Burnham will be standing shoulder to shoulder with us come the great day. But when he, or other Labour figures, do things that suggest they might at least send a telegram of support on the great day, we (part ironically, part hopefully) confer comrade status on them. If that genuinely pisses real comrades off then it’s something we can rethink. To us it is part of how we discuss politics. There’s only two sides, and there’s no grey area in between. Sometimes they seem to be on our side. Sometimes not. When they are, they get rewarded.


  2. Just one point – one big glaring point:

    Why do you write “Comrade Burnham”?

    What does “comrade” even mean to you? For me it has a great significance, but you’ve turned it into a (lame) running joke. Comrade Burnham… If you can’t see the obscenity of calling someone from the right-wing Labour party “comrade”, then… there’s no point explaining. Personally I wouldn’t so much as spit on Burnham if he were on fire.


  3. Just wish Comrade Burnham hadn’t been moved from Health. He was doing an excellent job. Why couldn’t Comrade Balls have been left doing Education, where he was giving Gove a torrid time, and Comrade Burnahm have carried on explaining why Lansley’s Health reforms would make all right (i.e. left) thinking people weep? Why change for change’s sake?


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