Labour is asking some difficult questions about Michael Gove’s new job. And Rupert Murdoch won’t be happy

Gove May Murdoch
Emily Apple

Deputy leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson has written to Theresa May with some difficult questions about her appointment of Michael Gove to the cabinet. In particular, Watson wants to know what, if any, influence Rupert Murdoch had over the appointment.

Important questions

Watson wrote in his letter:

It has been suggested to me that Rupert Murdoch asked you to appoint Michael Gove to the Cabinet. Given your failure to secure a parliamentary majority and the consequent weakness of your position, it might be tempting to allow yourself to be influenced by powerful media proprietors who can shape the way your Government is covered.

And he asked the following questions of the Prime Minister:

  • Whether Mr Murdoch had ever made suggestions to her about ministerial or staff appointments.
  • Whether he had ever suggested Mr Gove should be made a minister.
  • Whether he had ever suggested “there might be consequences if you fail to take his advice, in terms of his newspapers’ coverage of you and your Government?”

Gove dismissed the claims as “political mischief making”.

Access to government

But the fact remains that Murdoch does have unprecedented access to the Conservative government. According to analysis by the Media Reform Coalition and 38 Degrees, senior executives from Murdoch-owned companies met with the Prime Minister or Chancellor 10 times in a year. This is more than any other news organisation.

Maggie Chao from 38 degrees stated:

These findings show that Murdoch continues to enjoy astounding access to senior politicians.

But whether Murdoch’s influence extends to being able to tell the PM who she should put in her cabinet is a step further than even these meetings.

More important questions

But there are potentially even more important questions about whether Gove should be Environment Secretary. Green MP Caroline Lucas tweeted:

Lucas is right. Gove, for example, voted against measures to prevent climate change. And he also voted for selling off England’s state-owned forests. In fact, his record is so appalling that one Twitter user turned it into a helpful graphic:

Gove’s record

Gove’s record when he has been in cabinet has been appalling. In fact, Gove’s record in education was so disastrous that he was labelled the “most hated coalition minister” in 2014.

And now, he is in charge of the environment – arguably the most important role in government. According to the World Economic Forum in 2016, climate change is the biggest threat to the global economy.

Whatever May’s reasons for appointing Gove, there are serious questions that need raising. Watson is right to question whether Murdoch had a role in his appointment. And it is vital to our democracy that May gives transparent answers to Watson’s questions.

But we all also need to ask a serious question about Gove’s suitability for his job. And based on his voting record and his previous work, the answer is a resounding no.

Get Involved!

Read more from The Canary on the general election.

Join The Canary, and help us hold the mainstream media to account.

– Read and support independent media outlets that hold the powerful to account:

The CanaryMedia DiversifiedNovara MediaCorporate WatchRed PepperNew InternationalistCommon SpaceMedia LensBella CaledoniaVox PoliticalEvolve PoliticsReal MediaReel NewsSTRIKE! magazine,The Bristol CableThe MeteorSalford StarThe Ferret.

Featured image via Flickr and Wikimedia

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed