After Michael Gove kick-started his leadership bid earlier this afternoon, he was asked time and again about whether he could be trusted.
These questions were prompted by the revelation, not just that he’d snorted cocaine, but had written a Times* article in 1999 condemning middle-class drug use hours before hosting a party where cocaine was available.
Time and again Gove ducked the implication that he was a hypocrite. He admitted he’d taken cocaine, he’d made a mistake and deeply regretted it. But about the article, he was silent.
Gove’s former drug use hung over his leadership address like a fog. Was he saying one thing while planning to do the opposite just as he did all those years ago?
But we don’t have to go back two decades to have evidence of Gove’s personality. We only have to look at his time as education secretary catalogued in forensic detail on this site.
Early in his career, Gove was asked on Radio 4 if he was a libertarian or a Stalinist because he’d shown traits from both viewpoints. He managed to divert the interview by saying he’d once worked as a BBC researcher. Laughter all round.
But some of us weren’t laughing. Although there were some moments of mirth such as when he said he’d visited schools which didn’t exist; when David Laws revealed Gove hated sex educators and when we found he’d been using dodgy surveys to back up his claims about teenagers’ historical ignorance.
After years of denying he wants to be Prime Minister, Gove now feels ready to fill the vacancy left by Theresa May (someone else he loathed, according to David Laws). He’ll bring the country together, he said. But bringing people together is not a quality he possesses.
And he can’t be trusted. If condoning and condemning drug use at the same time it isn’t enough, just ask his one-time friends Boris Johnson and David Cameron.
*The Mail on Sunday reproduces the article in full.