Recordings have come to light of Michael Gove making offensive comments during speeches he made to the Cambridge Union while he was a student there in his 20s. The comments are not just racist, sexist, and homophobic, they also cover several other offensiveness bases for good measure, including slurs directed at the royal family, which to be honest is fair enough. He also made jokes about child abuse, making light of the alleged paedophilia of a now deceased Conservative cabinet minister, whose widow was later paid substantial compensation by the Metropolitan police for police searches of her and her husband’s home because of allegations which the police have since accepted were baseless.
Gove also made fun of the economic devastation and job losses being visited upon the north of England and Scotland, referring to “the happy south” stamping over “the cruel, dirty, toothless face of the northerner.” The recordings of the offensive comments were published by the Independent newspaper. They’re probably the only time you’ll ever hear Michael Gove speaking truthfully and with conviction. Gove added that it’s pragmatic not to care what half of the population say because the richer half will keep you in power. That was when he was an honest sociopath instead of a lying sociopath.
These comments are separate from the offensive remarks about Scottish people which Gove made for the short lived car crash of a topical current affairs alleged comedy show for Channel 4 in the 1990s. Gove hasn’t apologised for those comments and he’s refusing to respond to requests for a statement about the offensive so called jokes he made to the Cambridge Union.
Just last week Scottish Conservative MPs and MSPs were up in arms about some offensive tweets made many years ago by the comedian Janey Godley. Those same Scottish Conservatives are now strangely quiet about racist and misogynistic comments from their hero Michael Gove. You’d think that at the very least they’d be trying to get his pantomime gig with BawJaws the Clown cancelled.
There’s no defence for the offensive tweets made many years ago by Janey Godley, however after those tweets surfaced she made a fulsome and sincere apology for any offence that she’d caused.
There’s a clear pattern in what’s called “cancel culture”, which is basically people being called out for sexist, racist, or homophobic remarks they’d made in the past. The toxic fandom of RuPaul’s Drag Race is particularly adept at trawling through the social media accounts of contestants searching for offensive comments made many years previously. In the upcoming series of Drag Race UK one of the contestants has been called out for comments which they made when they were 16. These revelations are invariably followed by a teary apology video on social media in which the person apologises and assures us that they have learned and have grown and are no longer the same person that they were when they made the offensive or problematic remarks. Indeed if you haven’t learned and grown up from the person you were when you were 16 or a callow youth there’s something seriously wrong with you.
That’s essentially what Janey Godley did, and like those contestants on Drag Race, she’s an entertainer,whose public life begins and ends with providing amusing and entertaining content. Not only has Michael Gove never apologised, he is still very much the same person as he was when he made those vile comments. In fact if anything he’s got worse. Gove has merely learned to lie more fluently and glibly. Far more seriously, Gove isn’t just an entertainer looking to perform in a pantomime in Aberdeen, as a cabinet minister in the British Government he has the power to influence legislation and government policies which affect all our lives. He is a senior figure in a corrupt government which weaponises xenophobia and demonises migrants and asylum seekers.
If, as seems likely given the large Conservative majority, the Conservatives’ Elections Bill is passed by the Commons, Gove will be given oversight of the Electoral Commission and will have the power to rule that campaigning activities he disapproves of are illegal. That’s a damn sight more serious than the pantomime “Oh no he isn’t!” “Oh yes he is!” and He’s behind you!” of a comedian that was getting the collective knickers of the Scottish Conservatives in a twist when it came to Janey Godley.
Likewise the Scottish Conservatives don’t seem overly bothered by the racist and homophobic comments of the serial liar in Downing Street, but when it comes to an independence supporting female comedian all of a sudden they transform into the net curtain twitching defenders of public morality and propriety. Johnson’s offensive comments would fill a script long enough to keep an entire theatre repertory company in business for years, never mind a single panto.
The really shocking thing here is that none of this is surprising. We’ve been shocked and appalled before by the crass contempt of the Conservatives, by their casual racism, naked class prejudice,their overweening entitlement, their corruption, and their hypocritical double standards. The student speeches of Michael Gove, the Spectator journalism of Boris Johnson, the deleted Tweets of Toby Young. It’s almost as if there’s a pattern emerging. It’s a pattern that if the Tories got it made into wallpaper it would cost £850 a roll and they’d expect the taxpayer to pay for it.
On this occasion the Scottish Conservatives will do exactly what they have done on all those previous occasions when the bigotry and prejudices of senior Conservatives has come to light. They’ll keep their heads down until they can find or manufacture an opportunity to castigate their opponents for some sin, real or imagined, and they will be aided and abetted in that by Scotland’s overwhelmingly anti-independence media, which is far more concerned about fending off independence than it is in holding the Conservatives to account.
This is what you get when a political party cannot be held to account by the electorate. Scotland hasn’t voted for a Conservative Government since the 1950s, but the Tories still enjoy power and privilege. Now they’re pauchling the electoral system to make it even harder to remove them from Westminster. The only way to cancel this panto is with Scottish independence.
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