His opposite number has seldom been more consistent. Consistently awful. If there was a goal open anywhere in the world, Hunt could miss it. If there was a thrilling match anywhere in the world on which to commentate, Hunt could make it sound dull. Tristram, thy name is Phil Neville.
Gove had come to the Commons fearing the worst. His close friend and former special adviser Dominic Cummings had gone rogue at the weekend; in an interview with the Times he had written off the prime minister as "bumbling", rubbished Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems, and insisted that the only person with the brilliance and vision to lead the country along the one true path of righteousness was the Govemeister himself. Given his recent run-ins with Conservative High Command, this was the kind of endorsement Gove could do without right now.
As punishment for his misdemeanours with Theresa May, Gove acted as if he had been sent on a yoga and meditation re-education weekend, where keynote gurus delivered sessions on, among other topics, the use of floral keyboard motifs in the seminal Yes album Tales from Topographic Oceans.
He was slightly less fidgety than usual, only doing his ostentatious callisthenics once a minute rather than every 20 seconds. He is a man who enjoys the shape of his own ankle.
If true mindfulness is still a distant nirvana for him, Gove didn't let it show as he waited for the Labour axe to fall. Fifteen minutes in, the inevitable Cummings moment finally arrived. Had Mr Cummings, a man who signed himself in as Osama Bin Laden, visited the department last week, asked Kevin Brennan, the shadow minister for schools. "Om," replied Gove, transcending the question, before forgetting his newfound spirituality for a moment to give Labour a quick lecture on its own use of special advisers.
Surely, though, Brennan was just the warm-up act for his boss. Hunt had delayed his entrance for 45 minutes to put Gove through the full tantric experience. Finally, Hunt got to his feet to deliver his coup de grace.
He could have chosen anything. "What do you think of your mate Dominic slagging off the prime minister?" would have been a decent start.
Instead, he went back to Birmingham schools. "When will the secretary of state accept that micro-managing schools from behind a desk in Whitehall does not work, and that we need a proper system of independent, local accountability?" he asked.
A look of surprise, then ecstasy crossed Gove's face. YES, YES, YES. There was a God. Or karma, at the very least. "I suspect that question will be shown not only on BBC Parliament but on UKTV's Gold channel, because it is a magnificent repeat," he said. "The honourable gentleman asked precisely that question in his speech last week." Whereupon Gove went back into his customary role of baiting Hunt for making up Labour's education policy on the hoof.
Realising that he had momentarily departed from the new road less travelled, Gove recovered his serenity by giving thanks both to the Great Deity of Parliamentary Escapes and the sublime wisdom of Jon Anderson. "There are those who want the creeping tendrils of bureaucracy once again to choke the delicate flower of freedom," he sang.
Levitation was only seconds away.
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