I like a good title. And no, I don’t mean the Your Honour or Mr Recorder type titles. Which is a good job because I do not like the idea of taking a comprehension test beyond the age of fifteen. But I digress.
No, when I mean I like a good title, I mean for a blog. And for this blog about the new Lord Chancellor I kept thinking about a little word play with famous song titles, usually around the word “love”. So titles were considered and rejected; “Gove Will Tear Us Apart” (too gloomy); “All You Need Is Gove” (too Tory cheerleader); “Gove On The Rocks” (unrealistic); and, as a variation on a theme, the Smiths’ classic “Hand in Gove” (just too weird).
Eventually I decided upon “Untitled” because the story of Michael Gove, Lord Chancellor, is a story too new to be pigeon holed by some semi-illiterate pun. And that is the beauty of the situation.
I have read and heard much in the way of speculation. Much of it from people who I respect, much of it from people who have some form of inside knowledge.
One school of thought says that we should judge Gove by what happened in Education. He was deeply unpopular with the troops on the ground in that field and we should expect him to be a similar thorn in our side. He imposed his will on the education system despite warnings from those with greater experience and we face the same.
Another school of thought says that this is a period of rehabilitation for Gove, bruised after losing the Education job. That he will want this to be a success by first avoiding a repeat of the animosity and resentment that saw him out of office. He will not want a war.
Others look at his predecessor. It is said that Grayling had suffered too many reverses in the High Court and Cameron needed someone more assured to bring home the final phase of the cuts to Legal Aid. Gove is a close ally of Cameron and can be trusted to finish the job. It is not exactly as if Leader of the Commons is viewed as a plum role as reward for a job well done by Grayling.
Meanwhile some say that, in Grayling, Cameron had a zealot to the cause. A man driven by the pursuit of budgetary savings and committed to seeing it through. If there was still the desire to see further cuts, then Grayling would have remained. If a gentle retreat is called for, then it is much easier for a fresh pair of eyes to see the need for a different approach.
There is a compelling logic in much of what is said. Somebody, somewhere will be proved right. But at this moment in time it is still a story unwritten. The facts are still to unfold.
So what do we know? We know that a party was thrown on the streets outside the MoJ to bid farewell to Grayling. And now he is gone. Just let that sink in – Grayling is no longer the author of our futures. There was a time when we would rather have Rasputin in Petty France than Grayling.
We have a new ear to listen to our arguments. We have to make our case that the second cut need not be made. That Two-Tier is therefore not required. That we can offer further efficiency savings. That the CJS is in need of resuscitation, not starvation.
These arguments must be first and be strong. They should be delivered with all the persuasion that is the hallmark of the best of the two professions. And they should be made by our representatives with the unity of us all adding momentum to their efforts.
Finally they should be made with the nature and strength of our other course plain for all to see. We do not threaten but we make it clear – talk and negotiation is not the last resort.
This is not weakness, this allows us to demonstrate the strength of our case. This is not appeasement, it is the appropriate seizing of an opportunity we have hoped for.
We will get an early indication of our prospects of success. The new Lord Chancellor needs to pause the tender process in order to allow the room for negotiations to take place. If the process is pursued notwithstanding the obvious logic in at least pausing it then we will know. We will know little has changed.
Let us hope that Gove Changes Everything. *sorry*