Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read posts from this weekend, on prisons, equality and TV debates

1. Is Murdoch planning to sell the Times?

Sunny Hundal blogs at Liberal Conspiracy about a tweet that has set the rumour mill turning.

2. In praise of Alan Duncan

At the Bleeding Heart Show, Neil Robertson discusses penal reform after Alan Duncan said that the "Prison works" slogan is "repulsively simplistic".

3. Learning the lessons of the Dems' defeat in Mass

Incumbents heading for elections on both sides of the Atlantic can learn from Martha Coakley's defeat, says Marcus Roberts at Left Foot Forward.

4. New Labour and the "good society"

Dave Semple at Though Cowards Flinch analyses Harriet Harman's speech on equality from a socialist perspective, arguing for a shift of power from state to people and for the strengthening of unions.

5. Are the debates looking less likely?

At PoliticalBetting, Mike Smithson blogs about rumoured disagreements over audiences for televised pre-election debates.

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Michael Gove definitely didn't betray anyone, says Michael Gove

What's a disagreement among friends?

Michael Gove is certainly not a traitor and he thinks Theresa May is absolutely the best leader of the Conservative party.

That's according to the cast out Brexiteer, who told the BBC's World At One life on the back benches has given him the opportunity to reflect on his mistakes. 

He described Boris Johnson, his one-time Leave ally before he decided to run against him for leader, as "phenomenally talented". 

Asked whether he had betrayed Johnson with his surprise leadership bid, Gove protested: "I wouldn't say I stabbed him in the back."

Instead, "while I intially thought Boris was the right person to be Prime Minister", he later came to the conclusion "he wasn't the right person to be Prime Minister at that point".

As for campaigning against the then-PM David Cameron, he declared: "I absolutely reject the idea of betrayal." Instead, it was a "disagreement" among friends: "Disagreement among friends is always painful."

Gove, who up to July had been a government minister since 2010, also found time to praise the person in charge of hiring government ministers, Theresa May. 

He said: "With the benefit of hindsight and the opportunity to spend some time on the backbenches reflecting on some of the mistakes I've made and some of the judgements I've made, I actually think that Theresa is the right leader at the right time. 

"I think that someone who took the position she did during the referendum is very well placed both to unite the party and lead these negotiations effectively."

Gove, who told The Times he was shocked when Cameron resigned after the Brexit vote, had backed Johnson for leader.

However, at the last minute he announced his candidacy, and caused an infuriated Johnson to pull his own campaign. Gove received just 14 per cent of the vote in the final contest, compared to 60.5 per cent for May. 


Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.