Michael Gove is not the leader the UK needs

Writing in The Telegraph, James Delingpole argues that U.K. conservative politician Michael Gove is the next Margaret Thatcher.  Hardly.  Or worse yet, if he is, it surely reflects poorly on Thatcher.

At times it is difficult to understand where Delingpole is going with his views, and why he would want to support Gove:

He is a genuinely decent, warm, sensitive man who likes nothing better than amusing and delighting friends with his excellent conversation and almost legendary speeches. But there's a very serious, committed side to him: on his Whitehall office wall, as a gesture of intent, he hung pictures of Lenin and Malcolm X. He is a conviction politician who likes to get things done, hence his vigour and absolute mastery of his briefs first as education secretary, more recently as justice secretary.

And in actuality, Gove does have pictures of Lenin and Malcolm X on his wall.  Hardly good role models, and more precisely, they represent the lack of judgment far too common in the types of "conservative" leaders that the raging populists are getting behind.

Gove's fiscal conservative credentials are in serious doubt.  For the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, he suggested that British taxpayers shell out $90 million toward a new yacht for the monarchy.

To add to his long spate of deficient judgment, Gove's foreign policy views are a failure and represent the policies that conservatism should be moving away from as fast as possible.  As late as September 2008, he was still carrying the water for the disaster that was the war in Iraq:

Because now that the Bush family is leaving the White House, now that the Blair years are history, now that our troops are returning at last, we can see, clearly and free of partisan rancour, that the liberation of Iraq has actually been that rarest of things -- a proper British foreign policy success.

Next year, while the world goes into recession, Iraq is likely to enjoy 10% GDP growth. Alone in the Arab Middle East, it is now a fully functioning democracy with a free press, properly contested elections and an independent judiciary. The two facts, the economic and the political, are of course connected.

Sunni and Shia contend for power in parliament, not in street battles. The ingenuity, idealism and intelligence of the Iraqi people can now find an outlet in a free society rather than being deployed, as they were for decades, simply to ensure survival in a fascist republic that stank of fear. ...

Now, eight years on, Iraq is not a scar on the whole world's conscience but a prompt to the Arab world's conscience. The war the region opposed has led to the establishment of their first democracy.

A few years later after Gove's writings, and rational conservatives look back on the nation-building exercise that was this war as a waste of blood and treasure . You can't build a Western nation-state in the Islamic wasteland that is the Middle East, and it was stupid even to try.

And Iraq's actual real GDP growth in 2009?  Just 3.4%.  That is certainly respectable compared to other regions, which suffered greatly that year, but no 10%.  Whatever successes the Iraqi economy has seen in recent years are, in large part, being funneled directly into radical Islam, much as many of those cautioning against messing around in this region warned against.

Nobody serious refers to Iraq as a "fully functioning democracy with a free press, properly contested elections and an independent judiciary" – neither now nor at the time Gove was writing.  To make such claims in public is an absurdity.  It also looks as though the Sunni and Shia are back in street battles, as all those with even a modicum of common sense and historical knowledge could predict.

At present, Iraq is not just "a scar on the whole world's conscience"; it is Ground Zero for the exportation of Islamic terrorism abroad, which has affected the West greatly since Gove's neoconservative love-in.

If this is modern Thatcherism, then conservatives need to throw Thatcher's ideology on the ash heap of history as well.  What we need are leaders who have a demonstrable history of good judgment, accurate predictions, and with the ability to lead the West out of the septic tank into which it has fallen.  Gove is not that leader.

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