Twice-Education Secretary Quintin Hogg died in 2001, however his words on ‘twitter’ are remarkably apt to today’s political context.
In his 1975 autobiography he wrote the following about his time as leader of the Conservative election strategy:
“Some of the makers of opinion are beyond reach, because they are on the other side. But before an election even these can be pressed into service. They can be made to take notice, to twitter with rage and scream in derision and, if they can be made to twitter and scream at the right things, or, rather from their point of view, at the wrong things, powerful allies can be wheeled into support from sources normally neutral, or, occasionally, even unfriendly“
Two things are remarkable about this quote. One: if you put a capital letter on the word ‘twitter’ it would make absolute sense in the context of today’s social media use. And, two: this tool has been an absolute mainstay of Gove’s time in office. He has been unbelievably canny in using soundbites to start a twitter storm of opponents shouting out against things they would otherwise normally be more sensible about, or pushing them to be more extreme in their reactions and hence framing themselves as unreasonable.
It’s a good trick, but it’s an old one. And it’s one worth bearing in mind as we head further into party conference season.
Starting on July 9th 2013 and continuing for as long as it takes I am reading the autobiographies of every ex-Education Secretary of State since 1944. I’ll be blogging excerpts & thoughts as I go.
My driving question: Who was the greatest Education Secretary of all time, and why? (With a secondary aim of better understanding the people in this role. After all, teachers complain politicians don’t understand them, but teachers should also understand politicians).
The first book is Rab Butler’s “The Art Of The Possible” (yes, I know he wasn’t technically a Secretary of State).