PETER FROST takes a look at the newly appointed Environment Secretary Michael Gove.
THERESA MAY has obviously had to scrape the bottom of her badly depleted barrel of potential ministers to put her new cabinet together.
One of her last and most desperate appointments was of Michael Gove to be Environment Secretary in charge of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. One of the most common responses was that such an appointment was like putting a fox in charge of a hen house.
The first thing the appointment does is confirm May’s own lack of interest and concern over any environmental issues. Her voting record is just as bad as Gove’s.
The two of them believe key EU rules — protecting anything from wildlife to air pollution — should be discarded. Worse they have nothing to put in their place.
Caroline Lucas (below), re-elected as the only Green Party MP, was quick to register her horror with the Gove appointment. She told us it was hard to “think of many politicians as ill-equipped for the role of environment secretary as Michael Gove.
“His record of voting against measures to halt climate change and his attempt to wipe the subject from our children’s curriculum show him entirely unfit to lead our country in tackling one of the greatest threats we face,” she added.
“This appointment is further evidence of both May’s complete disregard for the environment and her desperation to hold together a government in chaos.”
Greenpeace chief executive John Sauven holds similar views: “Michael Gove is about to find an in-tray loaded with urgent problems, from tackling the air pollution crisis to reforming our broken farm subsidy system and protecting our oceans from overfishing and plastic waste.”
One of the first challenges Gove will face is an attempt to defend the government’s air quality plans in the high court. It is the third court appearance for ministers after their previous plans to clean up Britain’s toxic air were deemed so poor as to break the law.
When I first heard of Gove’s appointment I was horrified; in fact I could only think of one less suitable candidate. She would be Lady Victoria Borwick, the Tory MP who, as I reported a few weeks ago, is also chair of the Antique Dealers Association which persuaded her old mate May to make a U-turn on banning all ivory sales, a move that might have helped save the African elephant.
Did you realise that Lady Victoria was the MP who kept us all waiting demanding endless recounts before she eventually lost her Kensington seat to Labour’s Emma Dent Coad by just 20 votes?
Let’s take a look at what Gove has said and done in the past to see if it gives us any clue as to what we might expect as he takes up his new job.
One big clue came during his controversial and disastrous stint as education secretary. He tried hard to remove climate change from the national geography curriculum.
Those views will certainly go down well with May’s new allies in the DUP, who are among the biggest climate change deniers anywhere.
One interesting clue to when and how he formed his ignorant environmental views are that when he headed the Tory wing of the Leave campaign during the EU referendum, he was based at 55 Tufton Street. This is the address of a number of right-wing Tory pressure groups, including the climate change denying Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).
You may remember that the Tories had a number of attempts at privatising and selling off our wonderful ancient forests until mass protests finally convinced them they could never get away with it. Gove was always an enthusiastic supporter of any attempts to sell off our wonderful woodlands.
He also voted in favour of badger culling on a number of occasions. He was happy to ignore the overwhelming evidence that the cull was ridiculously expensive and simply wasn’t working.
He spoke and voted against the Green Investment Bank acting to support Britain’s emissions targets.
He was one of the Tories who backed a measure to allow fracking in national parks. Now, of course, part of his ministerial portfolio covers running those very same national parks — not good news for those of us who love those jewels in our landscape.
Another worry is that when he was education secretary, he allowed the network of Rudolf Steiner schools to apply for and achieve free school status. These schools are based on the decidedly racist mystical philosophy called Anthroposophy invented by the man after whom the schools are named.
Austrian Rudolf Steiner (above) also invented a muck and magic agricultural hare-brained system called biodynamism that involves, among other things, burying cattle horns filled with cow dung or flint so that it can gather to it magical cosmic power.
Other techniques involve stirring liquid fertiliser for exactly half an hour clockwise then exactly half an hour anti-clockwise again to gather those cosmic forces.
Biodynamic preparations include yarrow flowers stuffed into red deer bladders; chamomile stuffed into cattle intestines; chopped oak bark inside the skull of a dog or cat, and many other equally loony concoctions.
All these preparations are diluted several million parts to one and then sprayed at full moon. As with homeopathy the dilutions are such that science cannot detect any of the chemical in the spray. Perhaps it is no surprise that Steiner schools also encourage homeopathy.
This loony agriculture is already widely practiced among the wine makers of California and was recently sympathetically featured on BBC Countryfile. Poor Julia Bradbury could be seen trying very hard not to laugh at the nonsense.
One of the main advocates for Rudolf Steiner’s ideas is Emma Craigie, sister of Gove’s close ally and friend on the Tory benches Jacob Rees-Mogg. (both pictured below)
We can only hope that Gove doesn’t decide that biodynamism should become the basis of saving our countryside and agriculture. On his previous performance I wouldn’t be too sure.
This article first appeared in the Morning Star 14 June 2017