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Thursday, 16 Jun 2011

I am embarrassed that I voted for Michael Gove to be my MP. Gove was interviewed on the Today programme and made a fool of himself. There is an allegation in the Telegraph that some Academy schools had been given GBP300 too much per pupil. When asked if this was down to an error made by his department he refused to answer. It's a simple allegation and a simple question.

Gove could easily have answered something like, "I'm not aware of an error made by my department but I will be sure to look into it. We take these accounting matters very seriously." Instead he squandered this opportunity to behave in a civilised way and trotted out the mantra that schools run as academies do better than those that are funded by their LEA.

He deliberately misunderstood the question and blamed local authorities for making mistakes.

The interviewer pressed him again and again on the matter and his response was to start giggling inanely and suggest that she was taking him down an intriguing line of questioning, which she objected to, pointing out it was his refusal to answer that led her to pursue the question.

In one breath he blamed the previous government for setting up a flawed funding system and said that his government was dealing with the mess. In the next, he denied that there was a mess in the financing of academies.

Gove is quick on his feet and can speak with authority but these qualities are not a sufficient substitute for getting properly briefed. This suggests an inexcusable arrogance. His laughing at the interviewer might have been due to arrogance or it might have been due to his realisation of the pickle he'd dropped himself in.

Also he seems to have fallen into the political "Deny Everything" trap, which draws attention to the issue under scrutiny rather than deflecting it. Why?

What could have been an intelligent discussion on the merits of academy schools dissolved - mostly - into
a childish scrap. What a wasted opportunity.

Here is a related article on this interview:-
Christina Odone on Michael Gove Today

STOP PRESS: I have listened to the interview again and I can hear that Gove did at least answer the question about possible errrors by his department with a "not to my knowldege" comment. But - oddly - when Sarah Montague gave him the opportunity to confirm this in a re-iteration, as is the way they do it on the Today programme, he went off on a tangent. That was his missed opportunity. Beacon