Gove has told ‘complete lies,’ says Baroness

Janet Downs's picture

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  The poster was later withdrawn because it was ‘unfortunate timing’ as it was published shortly before MP Jo Cox was murdered, UKIP leader Nigel Farage said.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.

ADDENDUM 21 June 2016 07.35  Full Fact checked the claims made by Michael Gove (here) and David Cameron (here) in their live debates.





Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

Be notified by email of each new post.


chris dunne's picture
Mon, 20/06/2016 - 13:12

Well said of course.

Important to remember though that David Laws was and is as pernicious in his own way. He it was who wrote an article in the Evening Standard branding the teaching profession as having presided over "failure and mediocrity on an industrial scale".

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 20/06/2016 - 13:27

Chris - agree, which is why Laws' criticism of Gove is significant.   Laws, too, was complicit in allowing the 'plummeting down league tables in ten years' myth to gain momentum.  He doesn't even mention the 2000 PISA results in his book which is a strange ommission given that Coalition education policy was built on this myth.  Laws purports to have written a fair commentary on the Coalition years.  He's a Gove admirer but must have realised that if he painted a too rosy picture of life at the DfE his claim of truth-telling would be undermined.  So he had to include some of the dodgy goings-on.

Which makes you wonder what he left out.

Laws has now joined ARK as an international adviser - his revolving door appointment was sanctioned by the toothless ACOBA group which is supposed to ensure ministers and senior civil servants don't accept jobs with employers who could beneft from their departmental work until a suitable time has passed.   Laws managed to persuade them he'd had little dealing with ARK during his ministry but he had praised them and had received a £15k donation from one of ARK's trustees just before the 2015 election.


Emma Bishton's picture
Mon, 20/06/2016 - 17:13

Not only was the rationale for Gove's education policy built on sand, we were also given to understand that the proposed solutions were 'evidence-based'. Yet when you look closer at the evidence proposed 'for' free schools, for instance, it is evident that this was cherry picked from a few select evaluations (not even from high-grade evidence). A case of 'tell the people what you think they want to hear'.

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 21/06/2016 - 07:27

Emma - you can add this: 'Tell the people misleading information enough times and it will become the truth'.  

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 22/06/2016 - 08:20

agov - if Warsi is to be dismissed because of her dodgy expenses then so is Gove.  Then we have a claim that the Guardian 'stitched up' Gove's father (your link ratched up the emotional impact - 'elderly', 'hard-of-hearing', 'serious diabetes') but that still doesn't alter the fact that Gove exaggerated about what caused his father to close the fishing business (note: I didn't use the word 'lied').  Then we had a link to a bit about the 'secret' plans to allow non-Visa travel to 1.5m Turkish 'special passport holders' (note the words 'could lead the UK to consider...' - that doesn't mean it's a done deal).    In any case this didn't address Gove's incorrect claim that Turkey was about to join the EU  (it  may do so in the far-distant future but it would require every single EU country to agree - can't see Greece doing that somehow).  Finally, we had-hominem attacks to divert attention from Warsi's claim that Gove lied. 

The point is - does Warsi's character wipe away all the occasions when Gove was economical with the truth?  I've listed some of his misrepresentations above with links to the evidence.  Is all this evidence to be ignored because Warsi's character has flaws?  (Note - I questioned why she didn't mention Gove's misinformation before - a significiant oversight, surely?)

agov's picture
Wed, 22/06/2016 - 10:21

Good luck.

Add new comment

Already a member? Click here to log in before you comment. Or register with us.