ConHome Diary: The Defenestration of Suzanne Evans & The Rise of Michael Gove
25 Mar 2016 at 18:39
UKIP has finally flipped. On Wednesday morning they suspended Suzanne Evans for six months due to her so-called ‘disloyalty’. The aim of this was twofold – to take her off their GLA candidates list and to prevent her standing for the leadership if Nigel Farage quits after the Referendum. Evans wasn’t taking this lying down and went to the High Court, but her bid to quash the suspension failed as the court couldn’t see how any UKIP rule had been broken. Having seen the court papers, it’s quite clear that ever since Nigel Farage made her ‘interim leader’ for all of several hours on the day after the election there has been a constant campaign within UKIP circles to undermine her. Outsiders scratch their heads and wonder why. She is one of the few UKIP figures to have a media profile, and she is very much seen as the sensible face of the party. She’s also one of the few women in the upper echelons of the party. Yes, she has occasionally had the temerity to disagree with Nigel Farage, but suspending her like this is like IDS suspending Ken Clarke in 2003 for daring to disagree with him.
This suspension is intended to mute Evans. If she holds no official position within UKIP it’s difficult for TV and radio shows to justify inviting her on. And of course having ‘got’ Evans, the Faragistas are unlikely to stop there. Watch out Douglas Carswell, they’re coming for you next.
Why is no one suggesting the suspension of Schengen. Surely it is clear as night follows day that reimposing border controls between all European countries would at least make it more difficult for terrorists to move around Europe with the ease that they do at the moment. The suspension need only be temporary, but I just don’t understand why it wasn’t even on the agenda of yesterday’s EU Interior Ministers meeting.
So the junior doctors have announced another two day strike and this time they won’t even provide any A&E cover. What an utter disgrace. And their leaders have the temerity to seriously suggest that patient safety won’t be affected. Pull the other one. I had a very sparky exchange on my LBC show on Wednesday night on this subject.
Even if consultants are brought in to provide cover, can anyone seriously believe that patient safety will be unaffected. The Director of Patient Safety for NHS England doesn’t believe so, yet his concerns are dismissed by the BMA as being politically motivated. It is clear that the Hippocratic Oath has come to mean nothing to those who will strike. I don’t pretend that the government has covered itself with glory on this issue. It hasn’t. But given that the only issue outstanding is pay for Saturday working, this strike just cannot be justified in any shape or form.
Did you know you are 22 times more likely to be killed by a cow than be killed by a shark. Just thought I would pass that on.
I don’t know who it was who said that successful generals are invariably lucky generals. David Cameron is certainly a lucky prime minister. On Monday Jeremy Corbyn had an open goal in front of him and he managed to do a Diana Ross and miss the goal altogether. He didn’t even mention Iain Duncan Smith in his reply to Cameron in the Commons. PMQs should have been an altogether different ball game but that morning The Times published Corbyn’s ‘Little List’, the Nixonian piece of paper which sought to categorise Labour MPs by their loyalty to the leader. Cameron had great fun with it and the look on Labour MPs’ faces was a joy to behold. And five days on the old joke is doing the rounds…
The media consensus is that George Osborne’s prospects of winning the Conservative leadership were holed below the waterline by the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith. I think people are writing his obituary rather too early. He’s had setbacks before and bounced back. It could well happen again. The trouble is that with George there are few shades of grey. He’s either seen as a political titan or the Conservative equivalent of Eddie the Eagle, with little in between. There’s no doubt that he’s been very damaged by the budget aftermath, but to wrote off his chances of succeeding David Cameron is rather silly. Just as regarding Boris Johnson winning it as a dead cert is equally silly. Yes, he’s in the ascendant, but anyone who saw his performance in front of the Treasury select committee this week will have come away wondering if he is up to it.
I remain of the view that Michael Gove might well enter the leadership stakes at some point. He protests that he doesn’t think he’s up to it, but I suspect he might well be persuaded to change his mind. If George Osborne falls by the wayside, like Keith joseph did in 1974, I wonder whether Michael would step up to the mantle like a certain Margaret Hilda Thatcher did, all those years ago. I think he would attract a huge amount of support both with the parliamentary party and among the membership. He’s got a fantastic brain, is politically brave, is a man of conviction and is thoroughly nice. Those four qualities would help him develop into a fine leader.