Right at the end of Commons Education Questions on Monday, something snapped for Labour’s Barry Sheerman. The Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, had been “casting a spell” on her ministerial team, he claimed. “I have never seen a bunch of numpties with [such] a lack of vision, lack of passion,” he added, or rather shouted.
(It turns out that “numpty” is not unparliamentary language. Speaker John Bercow intervened in order not to intervene. The word “numpties”, he said, might be “tasteless” but “I don’t think it constitutes any threat to order”.)
Even when the partisan element of the former Education Select Committee chairman’s outburst – which roused us from the torpor into which we had descended in the previous hour – is discounted, it was apparent he might be on to something. Was he perhaps implying that we were actually missing the unwillingly reshuffled Michael Gove? Because, incredible as it seems – and it hurts to say it – we were.
Michael Gove's memorable moments
Michael Gove's memorable moments
1/5 Gove 'claims people move to London for “loads of hot sex”'
The Tory politician allegedly made a surprising claim that no doubt led to chair of Tech City UK Joanne Shields spluttering into her coffee when he reportedly explained to her that London’s young entrepreneurs have been attracted to the capital because of all of the “hot sex” on offer. Hmmmm.
2/5 Gove and the #BritishValues backlash
The Twitter sphere decided to educate the Education Secretary on some of the traits actually associated with being British, after it emerged schools would be required to encourage the promotion of “fundamental British values” in the classroom in the wake of the Birmingham “Trojan Horse” investigation. Among the many suggestions were Stuart Brown’s summary of: “Being wary of foreigners while having a Belgian beer with an Indian curry in your Spanish villa wearing Indonesian clothes.” LBC presenter James O’Brien meanwhile suggested “queuing; dressing inappropriately when the sun comes out; warm beer; winning World Wars; immigration & Pot Noodles” could be placed within the British Values bracket, while “socks and sandals” and “complaining about immigration” have proved relatively popular.
PA; E+; Getty Images
3/5 Gove performs Wham! rap to school children
As part of the BBC’s News School Report project, school children were given the opportunity to interview Mr Gove, who claimed to be a fan of rap music. When asked by one girl if he would give them “a taster of your favourite rap”, he responded with an impromptu performance of a Wham! song, complete with bobbing, fist clenching and the lines: “Hey everybody look at me, I’ve got street credibility. I may not have a job but I have a good time with the boys I meet down on the line.”
4/5 Gove is filmed falling over in a Vine
The (very blurry) moment Gove was filmed falling over before hurriedly climbing back up and walking off in a Vine quickly went viral.
5/5 Gove poses for selfie with school children
In a trend that stubbornly refuses to disappear, Mr Gove decided to jump on the bandwagon by posing for a selfie – although he did apparently warn the children to “watch out that he didn’t break the camera”.
Without him, the life has drained from this monthly event. Morgan’s shadow, Tristram Hunt, promoted his rather mild proposal for the tax relief enjoyed by private schools to be conditional on their partnering ones in the state sector. Jubilant that the head of University College School, Hunt’s own alma mater, had extravagantly called the plan “offensive bigotry”, Morgan suggested that Hunt’s old school would not be “unveiling any statues to [him] any time soon”.
But the fizz had gone. At the very least Gove would have shamelessly – and unfairly – shot back “I’m all right Jack – pull up the ladder” taunts at Hunt. Morgan merely repeated that there were lots of “collaborative partnerships” already – despite, as Labour’s Ian Lucas had pointed out, the Chief Inspector of Schools saying private schools were merely offering “crumbs from the table” to their state counterparts.
Meanwhile Tory Mark Pritchard announced that: “Growing up in the 1980s in Herefordshire, going to school at that time, there was a widespread and comprehensive careers service.” Whatever else Pritchard was taught in Herefordshire, it didn’t include avoidance of hanging participles.
Morgan replied “that there is no such thing as a career for life any more”. Not for Education Secretaries anyway.Reuse content