Sunday, July 03, 2016

Gove's Shakespearean turn

When he was David Cameron's Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove talked about the need to put Shakespeare on the tongues of twenty-first century Britons.

Now Gove has achieved that aim, by acting the part of Brutus in the Conservative Party's increasingly bloody post-Brexit ructions. Britain's newspapers and social media have been both appalled and entertained by Gove's imperfectly timed knifing of Boris Johnson, the buffoonish populist who has suddenly been recast as a tragic Caesar.

Left-wingers already lamenting the vote for a Brexit have found Gove's bid for control of Blighty both inevitable and surreal. For the increasingly harried and morose Corbynite journalist Owen Jones, Gove's leadership bid was 'proof that we are all now living in a hellish dystopia'.

Gove's spell as boss of British education made him a hate figure for the left and for teachers' unions. The case against semi-privatised 'Free Schools' Gove established during his reign was made compellingly by this issue of the London Review of Books. Kiwi opponents of the Key government's experiment with charter schools will recognise the arguments against Gove's creations.

I thought that Gove's attempts to change the ways history was taught in British schools were as worrisome as his flirtations with privatisation. Back in 2010, shortly after the election of the Tories, I explained why I thought the man's ideas about the past were both incoherent and potentially very popular.

[Posted by Scott Hamilton]


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