By Paul Goodman
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…He will have to work hard at not being articulate, intelligent, forceful (though faultlessly polite) and able to make a case both built on first principles and founded in personal belief. I am afraid that his evidence to the Leveson Enquiry this afternoon was a reminder that he is simply incapable of meeting these requirements.
I will tarnish this encomium by not claiming that it was brave. The Education Secretary used his appearance as a platform – to make the case that new laws and regulation, the course clearly favoured by the Judge himself, won't solve media evils and could imperil free speech and, therefore, the free society.
Since much of Fleet Street will unite to praise him tomorrow, Mr Gove had a favourable wind in his formidable sails. None the less, he certainly displayed courage of another kind: intellectual boldness. It was extraordinary to see him take on Leveson – in effect – where others have cowered and flattered and courted favour.
The right-wing twitterati are predictably going bonkers over his performance, and his anguished office will be fending off leadership talk as I write – not for the first time. It will be most unwelcome to the Education Secretary. At least, I think it will be most unwelcome. Who knows what secret passions stir within that literate breast?
P.S: All this isn't to say that the Education Secretary is necessarily right about the unwisdom of new measures to curb media abuses.
P.P.S: But it is to say – I repeat myself – that was extraordinary. In an age of spin (though we may be entering that of post-spin) seeing real politics has a vivifying effect. It's like hearing an unseen choir sing out suddenly in a cathedral.
P.P.P.S: I asked Mr Gove recently who is writing his biography. He answered: "Jim Henson." Look the name up if you don't recognise it.*