Of course Patel must go, but is Gove really the best we can find to replace her?

Rachel Sylvester has a piece in The Times today arguing for the replacement of Priti Patel by Michael Gove as Home Secretary. Yes of course Patel needs to be replaced and yes there is a case to be made that she is the worst of a truly awful Cabinet. The most illiberal Home Secretary in living memory is also incompetent and very nasty. But if competence was the main criterion of judgment none of her gruesome colleagues should stay in office either.

The crunch is that Conservative politics has become an extreme form of Margaret Thatcher’s “Is he one of us?”. The only essential characteristic is to be loyal to the Great Leader and, of course, to the destructive nationalism of Johnson’s politics. The appointment to the Cabinet of the revolting Lord Frost was perhaps the ultimate expression of this.

I was once invited to an event at which Michael Gove was the main speaker. I asked an acquaintance who knew him well what he was like and was told he was good-mannered and polite. His address was pretty shabby with gaping holes in its logic. I asked Gove about these deficiencies and he turned on me with venom. I had, I think, been courteous. Gove certainly was not.

The point of replacing Patel with Gove is not that it would be marginally preferable (it probably would) but that the core of her policies would not change. Xenophobia is at the heart of this and it stands in the way of Britain’s European trade dilemma. The case for being a member of the Single Market and the Customs Union is overwhelming but the EU would require that we sign up again to the Four Freedoms to do this. Patel wouldn’t do this and I doubt that Gove would either.

If substance and style and intellect really mattered who in Boris’s band of brothers and sisters would survive? Sunak perhaps but Williamson, Hancock, Truss – no way. The blessed Margaret, to her credit, did tolerate dissidents in her cabinet. Johnson does not. Not one of his motley and sub-standard crew stands up to him or even mildly hints at his manifest inadequacies.

So if Patel is kicked out it will be fine to have a quiet cheer. And Gove would be a superficial improvement. But the event would only be a minor wobble to Johnson’s hegemony. A Pyrrhic victory.

5 thoughts on “Of course Patel must go, but is Gove really the best we can find to replace her?

  1. I am Impatiently waiting for the grenade to be thrown that will blow up the entire government for good. It always happens sooner or later. With Thatcher, it was party self-destruction, for Major it was sleaze. Blair was undone by Iraq and Brown who then undid himself. Cameron, who was pretty useless committed virtual suicide by disembowelment calling the Brexit referendum.
    What will this governments terminal mistake be? “Events dear Boy, events.” (Macmillian)


    1. Nail on the head again Paddy and Gove is more of a bitch than P.Patel! Johnson Co will eventually get nailed for all the lies and corruption involved in their misspending on Covid. And I am donating to the Good Law Project, which has already obtained some serious court judgements;- to quote a small part of a recent report;- “Over the course of our judicial review, Government made no less than four attempts to provide an accurate witness statement setting out the number of contracts and Contract Award Notices that had been published late – and they kept getting it wrong. As late as the hearing itself, they said they had published 28% of Contract Award Notices within the 30 day legal limit.
      But when asked by the Judge to follow up with evidence of the figures so he could make his final Order, it transpired that Government had actually only published 3% of CANs in the legal timeframe.
      Government has not only misled Parliament and placed inaccurate information before the Court, it has misled the country.”


      1. Yes indeed. Holding them to account is the only weapon we have against tyranny. Good Law Project is superb.
        Am I the only one that feels whenever I watch this current breed of Tory ministers the impression of seedy salesman always appears? Sunak’s budget speech did much the same. It’s all about presentation instead of substance.
        Starmer and his front bench on the other hand are the perfect opposite. Measured controlled and intellectually vigorous. It’s a tragedy Britain has inflicted upon itself.


      2. I have to believe that British justice will prevail. Otherwise, I’m afraid that I’d be promoting revolution; the old fashioned way of removing despotic governments.


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