How a picketer became a key Cameroon

14th May 2010 at 01:00

When it comes to manner and social skills, Michael Gove, the new Schools Secretary, could not be further apart from his predecessor Ed Balls.

One of Westminster's more charming politicians, Mr Gove claims to be continuing the work of Blairite Labour that Mr Balls moved his department away from during his almost three-year reign.

However, although Mr Gove took part in a union picket line in 1989 to recognise the National Union of Journalists, it would be wrong to assume the Surrey Heath MP sits on the left among the Tories.

Often described as one of the party's leading "neo-cons", Mr Gove is a fierce believer in the power of the free market and has championed the adoption of both the free school model, as used in Sweden, and the US charter school movement since being handed the education brief while in opposition in 2007.

Before being tempted into politics in 2005, the Scotsman worked as a journalist for The Times, and it was following an article criticising the Conservatives that he was asked by David Cameron to run for Parliament.

Mr Gove agreed and has since become a key figure within the new Prime Minister's allies.

Born in Edinburgh in 1967, Mr Gove was adopted aged four months old to an Aberdeen family. His father was a fish merchant and his mother a lab assistant at the University of Aberdeen.

He was educated at two state primary schools, before winning a scholarship to the independent Robert Gordon's College. He went on to become president of the Oxford Union while at university.

A loyal Conservative, Mr Gove told the BBC that he would be happy to give up his position in the Cabinet in the interests of securing a deal to power share with the Liberal Democrats.

He will be relieved that Mr Cameron turned that offer down.



"Best of luck to Dave. The whole country needs him to do a good job. I have a feeling that he will."


"As a former Labour voter, and the owner of a 'socialist heart', I recognise that other ideas are sometimes better. I wish the new coalition every success. I just want it to work, all partisanship aside."


"At least we now have a Government. I don't trust the Liberals one bit, but the common ground between them and the Conservatives is that both are sympathetic to libertarians. In education we badly need that."


"It makes me very depressed, as I'm old enough to remember the Tory government last time. There's a lot there in teachers' working conditions for them to hack away at. I think many vulnerable and ordinary people in our society will suffer."


"The carnage starts now. Are you prepared to sacrifice your job for the national good? I have worked through recessions of the early 1970s, mid and late 70s, the 80s, early 90s and now and have been under real threat of redundancy. It will be new ground for a lot of you. Are you prepared to pack your bin liners and leave quietly when the call comes to lay down your interactive smartboard for the (alleged) good of the country?"

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