The New Statesman’s rolling politics blog

RSS

Michael Gove becomes Chief Whip; Nicky Morgan takes over as Education Secretary

The former Education Secretary Michael Gove is now Chief Whip, replacing Sir George Young. Women's minister Nicky Morgan has replaced Gove - although she will also keep her equalities role.

Michael Gove. Photo: Getty
Michael Gove goes from Education Secretary to Chief Whip. Photo: Getty

In more harrowing news for the PM's middle-aged white men, Education Secretary and neocon darling of the Tory right Michael Gove has been demoted from his post to Chief Whip, with an "enhanced role in campaigning and doing broadcast media interviews", according to the PM's Twitter feed.

This is another surprise move in Cameron's shake-up of his government this week, perhaps only eclipsed by the news that William Hague has resigned from the cabinet as Foreign Secretary and will be standing down next year.

Gove will be replaced by Treasury minister Nicky Morgan, who has quietly and confidently been earning her stripes and has been increasingly praised as a somewhat hidden Tory talent by pundits. Morgan will retain her role as minister for Women and Equalities. This appointment goes with the general predictions, which have been rumbling away for weeks, that the PM's final reshuffle of this parliament was going to be one for promoting women to the top tiers of his regime.

Gove's appointment is a strange one. He is known for having the gift of the gab, and even for those who loathe him (of whom there are many), he is an arresting figure during interviews and at the despatch box. The role of Chief Whip usually means you stay silent, out of the limelight, and can't take too many media appearances. Perhaps then it makes sense that Cameron seems to have tweaked the role especially for Gove by requiring a more outward role in campaigning and broadcast interviews. The two roles - operating behind the scenes and being a public face of the party - don't sit comfortably though, and it suggests the PM was hard-pressed to find an alternative position for his former education secretary.