Show Hide image The Staggers 9 June 2014 What the response to the Trojan Horse scandal reveals about today's outwardly cleaner politics The response to the Trojan Horse scandal, which has arisen from a rift between two powerful cabinet secretaries, tells us that our politics has been cleaner – or at least quieter – than ever. Print HTML Warring cabinet ministers. Backroom briefings. Overmighty special advisers. Policy implications obscured by political personalities. Resignations, apologies, and stony silence. This is what we assume Westminster politics is all about. It's what riles and alienates the public. It's what excites and galvanises the media. And it certainly rings true in the furore of the Trojan Horse scandal currently causing such ire in No 10. Two powerful cabinet ministers – the Education Secretary and the Home Secretary – have been in a battle of briefings and leakings over Birmingham schools embroiled in an "extremism" row. But the energetic response from Downing Street, opposition politicians and the media to this story reveals a cleaner, or at least quieter, politics in the upper echelons of government than we've had in a while. Public infighting between ministers was a notorious aspect of the often divided New Labour administration, but the political aspect of the Trojan Horse story reminds us that we haven't seen anything close to the factions, fictions and frictions of that time during this coalition. That's one of the reasons why a fall-out between cabinet ministers has caused such an extraordinary fuss. We're just not used to it anymore. David Cameron is said to be furious about the damaging breakdown in cooperation between two of his most influential ministers, and has personally intervened. Michael Gove has been forced to apologise both to the prime minister and Home Office counter-terrorism adviser Charles Farr, whom he briefed against to The Times. Theresa May's special adviser, Fiona Cunningham, resigned over a letter published by the Home Secretary's office to Gove suggesting his department had failed to act over alleged plots to take over Birmingham schools. Labour has weighed in heavily, with May and Gove's opposite numbers Yvette Cooper and Tristram Hunt writing to the PM accusing May of breaking the ministerial code, and calling for him to take action. The home affairs select committee chair Keith Vaz has written to May demanding "a full explanation of what has happened" and has announced that his committee will call her in for questioning. Journalists were always likely to leap on a story about a cabinet split, but the (rightly) horrified reaction from Downing Street, opposition and the backbenches suggests surprise at such a public dirty political tangle taking place under this government. Anonymous briefings and public infighting seem to be the stuff of New Labour history; the Blair/Brown backstabbing of yester-parliament. In contrast, Ed Miliband's party appears more-or-less united. And the deputy prime minister and Cameron had so far managed to stave off at least the lurid public mess of a cabinet table at each other's throats, even if there are inevitable disagreements behind closed, or slammed, doors. Perhaps then the encouraging lesson we can take from the Gove/May rift is that it's an aberration from, rather than a foundation of, today's cabinet relations. › What Hillary Clinton’s new book tells us about her unspoken pact with Barack Obama Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman. From only £1 a week Subscribe More Related articles Autumn Statement 2015: How should Labour respond? Autumn Statement 2015: will women bear the brunt again? John McDonnell interview: "We’re going to destroy Osborne’s credibility"