Michael Gove's militant past

The Tories' union basher once manned a picket line himself.

Few would have guessed that, as the man the Tories chose to lead their assault on the trade union Unite, Michael Gove had a militant past of his own.

But now, courtesy of the People, we have an image of the young Gove manning an NUJ picket line during a year-long dispute at the Aberdeen Press and Journal.

Some may assume that the shadow schools secretary parted company with the NUJ after he joined the Times, owned by that famous union-slayer, Rupert Murdoch. But a comment piece from the same newspaper reveals that he remained a member until as recently as 2007, when he resigned after the union passed a motion calling for a boycott of Israeli goods and services.

Even then, he declared his respect for "the men and women who went out on strike . . . in Aberdeen nearly two decades ago".

It's a pity that this ambivalence wasn't reflected in his speech on "industrial strife" last week.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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