Did no one explain to Gove what tonight’s debate was about?

January 16, 2019

by Martin Odoni

Tonight’s Motion of No Confidence in the Government, as expected, was defeated by 325 votes to 306. Not exactly a huge chasm, but reasonably decisive. It is noteworthy though that if the ten Democratic Unionists had voted against the Government, the motion would have passed by 1. Ironically, if Theresa May’s Brexit deal had passed the Commons last night, the DUP would have supported tonight’s motion and the Government would have fallen.

The atmosphere in the House of Commons tonight was as childish and yobbish as I have ever heard it, and never worse than during the Tories’ closing statement, delivered by the obnoxious Michael Gove. The bleating, the drunk-sounding chants and the juvenile bellowing were more reminiscent of brawling rugby players than intelligent, considered debate. I have written more than once of my suspicion that the alienation of so many of the public from politics in modern Britain is partly a result of the horrendous ‘lager-lout’-style of behaviour in the Commons. Tonight will probably have made that even worse.

However, I mainly wish to offer observations on Gove’s speech itself. While it was, as one might expect, a disgraceful tissue of distortions that he would not dare repeat outside the House, where he would be subject to the law of the land, more noticeable was the theme of it. It was largely about Jeremy Corbyn.

Michael Gove

Gove’s speech in ‘defence’ of his Prime Minister was largely just an uncivilised hatchet job on the Opposition leader instead.

Interestingly, early in the speech he mocked Tom Watson’s closing speech on behalf of the Opposition on the grounds that Watson did not mention Corbyn at all. Why Gove imagines that Watson should have to do so is quite inexplicable; the debate was a Motion of No Confidence in the Government, not in Corbyn, and to an extent, it really had nothing to do with Corbyn, at least directly.

But having mocked Watson for not mentioning his leader, Gove made a similar mistake; he scarcely mentioned Theresa May throughout the speech, even though the Motion was about her and her Government. Instead, Gove just spent minutes on end ranting out a malicious hatchet job on Corbyn, regurgitating various tired and debunked myths from the last couple of years about ‘anti-Semitism’ and his supposed lack of credentials for defending the country .

Whether you agreed with all of this, or any of this, or none of this, there is a fundamental flaw in the speech. Hardly any of it had anything to do with whether the present administration is fit to govern. And yet it made up a good three-quarters of what Gove had to say. (My brother has described it as “the Parliamentary equivalent of Kryten’s legal defence of Rimmer” from Red Dwarf.)

Is it just that no one had actually explained to Gove beforehand what the subject of the debate was?

Or was Gove keeping his praise for May to an absolute minimum because he plans to make a new bid for the leadership at her expense in the near future?

Or is it just – and this I suspect is the likeliest answer – that the performance of Theresa May and her administration since 2016 has been so shambolic, so destructive, and so mired in inertia and non-achievement that Gove simply ran out of good things to say in its defence after the first couple of minutes?

These are the only explanations I can think of, and all of them are bad.

9 Responses to “Did no one explain to Gove what tonight’s debate was about?”

  1. Paul Clappison Says:

    Excellent!

  2. Joy Young Says:

    Wow, worst article ever. The whole point of his debate was about the government’s suitability and that also of course includes Corbyn’s suitability to replace the current government. Your article just looks a bit whiney. It was a brilliant speech that really ripped apart the opposition and exposed the endless holes in the opposition. Which is how politics works! He did exactly what was required. Brilliant, witty speech that ripped chunks out of all of them (in particular Corbyn). And he mentioned May a few times and her suitability as PM. The whole thing was just about perfect. You might like that, but what you are feeling right now is called “sour grapes”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCs901Cjiyk

    • Martin Odoni Says:

      Wow, worst comment ever.

      “The whole point of his debate was about the government’s suitability”
      Yes so he should have carried on discussing why he thinks the current Government i.e. the one subject to a No Confidence motion, is suitable.

      “and that also of course includes Corbyn’s suitability to replace the current government.”
      That doesn’t make it acceptable to use already-debunked falsehoods, nor to make it the main focus of his argument. Establishing whether Corbyn and Labour can make a suitable Government is what General Election campaigns are for.

      “Your article just looks a bit whiney.”
      Your comment just looks sycophantic.

      “It was a brilliant speech that really ripped apart the opposition and exposed the endless holes in the opposition.”
      Anyone can rip apart an opponent by telling lies about them. It’s an abuse of Parliamentary Privilege.

      “Which is how politics works!”
      Ah, so you’re saying that lying is an integral part of politics? So long as people like you continue to express admiration for these sorts of behaviours, the House of Commons will be impossible to reform from its obsolete Medievalism.

      “He did exactly what was required.”
      No, because he was required to DEFEND the Government’s ongoing existence, and he ran out of things to say in defence of the Government very quickly. If your only case for saying that the Government should carry on is that someone else might be worse – and you need to reiterate debunked lies even for that – then you are doing the wrong job.

      “Brilliant, witty speech that ripped chunks out of all of them (in particular Corbyn).”
      If he were prepared to repeat the speech outside Parliament, where he would be subject to the laws of slander and libel, I will be a lot more impressed.

      “And he mentioned May a few times and her suitability as PM.”
      THE WHOLE THING WAS SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT HER SUITABILITY AS PM. At the very least, he should have discussed that MORE than throwing smears and insults at ONE opponent.

      “The whole thing was just about perfect.”
      So, deceit and smears are part of your idea of ‘perfection’? Wow, what a hideous little world you must live in. I’m perfectly prepared to admit that he delivered the speech well, but to conclude that that constitutes ‘perfection’ is just a declaration of your own shallowness, putting theatrics ahead of substance.

      “You might [not] like that, but what you are feeling right now is called “sour grapes”.
      (“Sour grapes” is not something you feel, it’s a taste.) No, what I’m feeling is disgust. A general disgust for the ongoing yobbery of the House of Commons on all sides (which I have written about extensively), and a specific disgust for how low Gove is prepared to behave in his pursuit of high office. I realise that it must be difficult for a person like you, who appears to admire lies, abusive behaviour, and irrelevance, to grasp that revulsion. But then the big difference between you and me appears to be that I am not a psychopath.

      Out of interest, ‘sour grapes’ implies that you think this means a ‘win’ for the Tories? You do realise that they suffered the biggest defeat for a sitting Government Bill in Commons history, right? You do realise the very fact there was an MONC being discussed at all is a symptom of calamitous Government failure, right? The fact you now seem to be gloating over a stay-of-execution suggests to me that you had a taste of sour grapes the previous evening.

  3. Terry Kelly Says:

    We are reaching the end game for the Tories and their thuggish saviours from the DUP.


  4. The Young freak has suddenly arrived on the scene putting herself/himself about the main FB political groups. Mass postings, comments & foul language in order to smear Jeremy Corbyn. We think it is a Yankee Hasbara troll, but could be Tory.

    • Martin Odoni Says:

      So very plausible. Joy would probably be among the first to start crying out about “Marxist thugs”, had the barrage of smears, distortions and outright abuse been propelled the other way.


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