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Gove’s departure in reshuffle lifts Labour spirits in Birmingham

Gove’s departure in reshuffle lifts Labour spirits in Birmingham

🕔15.Jul 2014

The biggest Government reshuffle for years will be regarded with relief by Birmingham’s Labour-led city council, if for no other reason than that Michael Gove is no longer Education Secretary.

Mr Gove has been blamed by council leaders, and senior officials, for zealously pursuing the Trojan Horse affair, and criticised for his decision to appoint two Government commissioners – one to investigate alleged hardline Muslim infiltration of schools, and one to oversee Birmingham’s failing social services for vulnerable children.

The prime minister decided to give Mr Gove a new job, as chief whip, and the new Education Secretary is Nicky Morgan, who was previously the Financial Secretary and Minister for Women.

Commentators were divided over whether the decision was a ‘sacking’ or a sideways move for Mr Gove, who had made it clear that he preferred to remain as Education Secretary. One thing is clear though, his departure will not be mourned much, if at all, in Birmingham.

Mr Cameron attempted to sweeten the pill by insisting Mr Gove would have an enhanced role in election campaigning and getting the Tory message across on television, but the scale of the reshuffle left Westminster reeling.

Few had tipped Mr Gove to be moved from Education, where he won praise from the Tory right wing for taking on the teaching unions and backing the roll-out of academies and free schools.

During his four-year stint as minister Mr Gove engaged in a bitter war of words with the educational establishment, referring to teaching unions and left-wing academics as “the blob” and enemies of promise.

The teaching unions, for their part, dubbed Mr Gove the most hated education secretary in history which, given the unions’ contempt for most education secretaries over the years, was quite an accolade.

Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw told LBC Radio he was surprised and shocked at Mr Gove’s departure. He regarded Mr Gove as a “transformative and radical” minister.

Other reshuffle shocks saw William Hague resign as Foreign Secretary, to be replaced by the Eurosceptic Philip Hammond. Mr Hague remains First Secretary of State, effectively Mr Cameron’s number 2, and becomes Leader of the House until he quits parliament at the next election.

David Willetts lost his job as universities and science minister and was replaced by Greg Clark, who will remain as Minister of State at the Cabinet Office including keeping his responsibility for cities for which he attracts cross party acclaim.

Veteran Tory Ken Clarke, as expected, has left the cabinet.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and Welsh Secretary David Jones are among those sacked.

In Birmingham, Labour council leaders will be keen to meet Nicky Morgan quickly such are the issues swirling around schools and education in the city. They will be keen to discover whether she is likely to take a softer approach to Trojan Horse matters than her predecessor.

One of her first public duties could be to appear before the Commons Education Committee tomorrow to answer questions about Trojan Horse. Mr Gove had been booked to answer MPs’ questions about extremism in schools.

And before the end of the month, Peter Clarke, the education commissioner appointed by Mr Gove to investigate Trojan Horse, will submit his findings to Ms Morgan. The report will then be published.

Relations between the council and Mr Gove, although cordial in public, were extremely poor in private, with councillors and officers believing the former Education Secretary ‘had it in’ for Birmingham and for state schools.

City council chief executive Mark Rogers told a private meeting of head teachers earlier this year that he didn’t expect Mr Gove to take a “moderate and considered” approach to the Trojan Horse affair and suggested the Education Secretary would inflict a “firestorm” on Birmingham following publication of reports into 21 schools at the centre of hardline Muslim infiltration claims. The Council’s chief executive took to his blog last night to put forward a strong defence against the Ofsted Chief Inspector’s comments to the Education Select Committee last week. 

Nicky Morgan has enjoyed a meteoric rise up the Government’s ranks, partly due to Mr Cameron’s wish to promote more women to the top of his administration.

Earlier this year she accused Tories of being an “anti-party”, all too ready to say what they did not want but unwilling to present a plausible narrative about what they did want.

She told the brightblue thintank: “If we talk about what we hate all the time, we’re not talking about we like and what we want to do to help people who want to do well. We never say actually we are on the side of these people, we want this to happen and we think this is great.”

Confirmed cabinet appointments:

First Secretary of State and Leader of the Commons William Hague (previously Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Philip Hammond (previously Secretary of State for Defence)

Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women & Equalities Nicky Morgan (previously Financial Secretary and Minister for Women)

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Liz Truss (previously Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, DfE)

Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon (previously Minister of State for Business and Energy)

Secretary of State for Wales Stephen Crabb (previously Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales)

Attending cabinet:

Commons Chief Whip Michael Gove (previously Secretary of State for Education)

Minister of State for Employment and Disability Esther McVey (remains in current post as Minister for Employment)

Confirmed ministerial appointments:

Minister for Universities and Science, in addition to current role as Minister of State at the Cabinet Office Greg Clark

Minister of State for the Home Office and Ministry of Justice Mike Penning, previously Minister for Disabled People

Minister of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, and Education Nick Boles, previously Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government)

Minister of State for Education Nick Gibb

Minister of State for Work and Pensions Mark Harper

Minister of State for Transport John Hayes

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport Claire Perry, previously Assistant Government Whip

Minister of State for Defence Anna Soubry, ppreviously Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, MoD

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment and Climate Change Amber Rudd, previously Assistant Government Whip

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Penny Mourdaunt, previously PPS to Philip Hammond as Secretary of State for Defence

Financial Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke, previously Exchequer Secretary

Exchequer Secretary Priti Patel


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