Michael Gove talked about people living beyond their means, and Labour spending too much on welfare, and claimed this justified the Tory/LibDem cuts cuts cuts workfare cuts.
Michael Gove used to work for Rupert Murdoch as a journalist at The Times, until he was selected as the new Conservative candidate for the safe seat of Surrey Heath in the 2005 election.
Gove and his wife Sarah Vine, had bought a nice house in Kensington for £430,000 in 2002.
Between December 2005 and April 2006, Michael Gove used the Additional Costs Allowance (meant for an MP to claim for their second home) to claim more than £7000 for furnishing this house:
Around a third of the money was spent at Oka, an upmarket interior design company established by Lady Annabel Astor, Mr Cameron’s mother-in-law.
Items claimed by Michael Gove for his “second home” – which was not in his constituency and which he and his wife had bought before he was selected by the Surrey Heath Conservative association – include:
- A Chinon armchair: £331
- A Manchu cabinet: £493
- A pair of elephant lamps: £134.50
- A Loire table: £750
- A birch Camargue chair: £432
- A birdcage coffee table: £238.50
- A dishwasher: £454
- A Range cooker: £639
- A fridge-freezer: £702
- A Kenwood toaster: £19.99
- A cot mattress from Toys ‘R’ Us: £34.99
- 8 coffee spoons and cake forks, £5.95 each
Then in 2006, Michael Gove bought himself a house in his constituency for £395,000. He charged us £13,259 for the move, plus over £500 for a night at the Pennyhill Park Hotel and Spa:
Within 123 acres of rolling Surrey parkland lies a luxury country house hotel accompanied by the UK’s Most Excellent Spa.
Wonderfully located between Ascot, Sunningdale and Wentworth and only 45 minutes from the centre of London, our spa hotel in Surrey offers everything from tennis and unmatchable five-star spa breaks to its own golf course, superb dining and impeccable service.
He then flipped his second-home allowance to the house in his constituency, and routinely claimed the maximum amount MPs were entitled to claim from Additional Costs Allowance: £22,110 in 2006-2007, £23,083 in 2007-2008.
When asked about this after the expenses leaked in 2009, Michael Gove said he would repay the £34.99 for the cot mattress, as items for children are explicitly not allowed under the Commons allowances. But:
The other items bought for his London home “were all, with one exception, below the acceptable threshold costs for furniture”.
“The items were bought from a mainstream retailer and when I was informed that they fell outside the range of allowable items I accepted that ruling without complaint,” he added.
The £13,259 moving costs were necessary, he said, so that he could have a home in the constituency “to effectively discharge my parliamentary duties”.
So when Michael Gove says he thinks people should live within their means, let’s consider his own record. Is this a man in the slightest bit interested in saving taxpayer’s money or living within his means? Is this a man who looks ethical or reasonable?
What kind of man gets elected to Parliament and promptly spends £7000 to buy luxury goods for a house he moved into three years earlier?
Update, October 2013: When the Daily Mail launched its attack on Ralph Miliband, Ed Miliband’s dead father, though other Conservative Cabinet ministers spoke out against the Mail’s smearing of a dead man who had never been a politician, Michael Gove called this a “robust press”.
Update, January 2013: Michael Gove on Blackadder:
“Our understanding of the war has been overlaid by misunderstandings, and misrepresentations which reflect an, at best, [an] ambiguous attitude to this country and, at worst, an unhappy compulsion on the part of some to denigrate virtues such as patriotism, honour and courage,” he writes in the Daily Mail.
“The conflict has, for many, been seen through the fictional prism of dramas such as Oh! What a Lovely War, The Monocled Mutineer and Blackadder, as a misbegotten shambles – a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite.
Blackadder Goes Forth is a comedy, of course. But Michael Gove arguing that comedy shows “an unhappy compulsion on the part of some to denigrate virtues such as patriotism, honour and courage”, that the “fictional prism” which depicts WWI as a “misbegotten shambles – a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite” is a misunderstanding of the noble cause – what noble cause does he claim inspired this conflict of four years and eighteen million dead?
Did Gove never read Wilfred Owen in his studies?
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.