Michael Gove has told “complete lies about Turkey’s accession to the EU”, says Baroness Warsi explaining why she's changed her mind over whether to exit the EU. She now wants the UK to remain despite her Euro-scepticism.
The breaking point, she explained, was UKIP’s infamous poster showing a string of refugees trying to enter the Schengen zone. The poster was later withdrawn because it was ‘unfortunate timing’ as it was published shortly before MP Jo Cox was murdered, UKIP leader Nigel Farage said.
But it wasn’t just UKIP’s crass tactics that angered Warsi – it was Gove’s relationship with veracity. It’s not the first time in the Referendum campaign that Gove has been accused of being economical with the truth. His claim that his father’s fishing business was ruined because of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy turned out to be exaggerated.
Regular readers will not be surprised. For more than five years this site has chronicled the misinformation sanctioned by Gove during his tenure at the Department for Education (DfE): how the UK Statistics watchdog censured the DfE for its use of OECD PISA data; how the watchdog again censured the department for linking political comment to official statistics making them appear unbiased; how inaccurate information fed to the Mail had been cleared by a Gove adviser; how Gove claimed local authorities control schools when they do not*; how Gove made himself look foolish when he used dodgy surveys to back up his claims that UK teenagers were ignorant of history...
In his account of the Coalition years, former schools minister David Laws describes how some of Gove’s advisors sent out such malicious, inaccurate press briefings that the Deputy Prime Minister’s office said, ‘The DfE advisers are lying, going rogue, being hostile and talking bollocks’.
Gove is, of course, not the only politician who has bent the truth. But his entire education reform policy – a policy which has had a destructive effect on education in England – was based on the myth that the UK had plummeted down international league tables in ten years since 2000. And he got away with perpetuating this myth because most of the media gleefully churned the claim and because his fellow politicians allowed him to do so. A cynic might wonder why Baroness Warsi didn’t censure Gove for spreading misinformation a little earlier. If she had done so then lasting damage to England’s schools might have been averted.
According to Laws, Gove is a man who likes his own way – the charming exterior slips when he doesn’t get it. And getting his own way has meant misleading the electorate. In or Out, a question hangs on whether Michael Gove is fit to be a future leader.
*The myth that local authorities control schools is debunked in our book, The Truth About Our Schools, available here.
ADDENDUM 12.50 Schools Week has published two articles: What would a remain vote mean for education? and Should we go or should we stay?. They are both well worth reading especially as an antidote to the misinformation, mud-slinging and scaremongering which has so far dogged the Referendum campaign.