Education Secretary Michael Gove is learning a painful lesson – things go wrong in government. One could almost be sympathetic, if it wasn’t for the sanctimonious way in which Coalition Ministers have been gleefully highlighting every little, and big, error of their predecessors in the Labour government.
Part of the ‘standard operate ing procedures’ of Opposition parties in modern states is to pounce on every mistake made in government, however understandable it might have been, and claim that they, of course, would never be so incompetent. This “we’d be more competent” pomposity usually lasts for several months, sometimes even a year or more, into Government when they get there. Mr Gove has been unusual only in tripping over the inevitable mistakes very early indeed.
But how much is it just luck, bad luck? The Coalition is rushing through the most massive cuts-programme in British, indeed probably any advanced country’s, history. In Education in particular there has been some urgency to getting the capital spending budget slashed, partly (and no one seems to be mentioning this) to make sure there’s some slack to pay for the capital costs of Mr Gove’s pet “free schools” programme.
So perhaps sympathy for Mr Gove should be muted – he’s largely the author of his own mishaps. And in case any of his fellow ministers are looking on thinking “rather him than me” don’t worry, it’ll be your turn soon enough.