Yachting his copy book

“There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile,
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together until he fell off his yacht.”

It would be wrong to suggest that Michael Gove is crooked; indeed it would be stretching a point to suggest he was even bent in any way – although I do think that the Conservative Party is long overdue for another legover crisis and that Gove should be at the centre of it when it happens, if only to prove which way he swings (so to speak).

The only whisper of any kind of interpersonal wrongdoing that we’ve had in this government so far is the relationship between former Defence Secretary Liam Fox and a gentleman called Adam Werrity who seemed to be such a fan that he had to follow Dr Fox wherever he went, claiming to be a member of his entourage who could get the then-cabinet minister to make certain arrangements in return for a bung. But that was more The Financial Arrangement That Dare Not Speak Its Name.

However, the rhyme at the top of this piece was the last time a yacht entered the news in any meaningful way, when the former Daily Mirror owner (and crook) Robert Maxwell disappeared from his, back in 1991(ish). I quote it to mark Gove’s latest lunatic idea – that we, the public, should buy the Queen a new yacht to mark her Diamond Jubilee.

This boat would cost £60 million, apparently – a million for every year she’s been on the throne. It would be a pointless present because, at Her Majesty’s age, she’s hardly going to be able to steer it.

The suggestion prompts me to wonder whether this is something that Tories do habitually. I mean, would he spend his own money on such lavishments?

Perhaps he’s trying to tell us that his Department for Education and Science is bucking the national trend by making money hand over fist. This would be strange behaviour for an organisation that is supposed to spend money in the most cost-effective way possible to give the nation’s young the best education possible, but I accept that in the light of my previous observations, the thought of Gove doing things ‘hand over fist’ would explain a lot.

In fact, it seems to me, the only part of the UK that has been expanding recently is the Coalition front bench. David Cameron in particular seems to be swelling up like a balloon and it occurs to me that, should matters progress as far as a ceremony to hand this proposed yacht over to Her Majesty, there’s a very real possibility that he’ll end up sliding off it.

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