Mrs May needs not only a Willie, but also a Sir Keith Joseph
If Mrs May wants to emulate the success of Mrs Thatcher, I’ve said before she needs a Willie, but assuming Mrs May wins a majority on Thursday, what this campaign has exposed is that she needs better support and advisers, as ‘the vision thing’ is lacking, as exemplified by the disastrous announcement of the social care changes that led many opponents to characterise it as a dementia tax whilst many Tories wondered if Nick Timothy was a Labour sleeper agent. A good policy brain is essential to be a successful Prime Minister as Mrs Thatcher acknowledged about Sir Keith Joseph.
So who is best placed to come up with the vision thing, I’d suggest Michael Gove would be the ideal person for that. As a former Chairman of the think tank Policy Exchange he be good at wonkery, and his tenure as both Education Secretary and Justice Secretary showed he was willing to be radical, in the latter role earning praise from Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform.
There would be controversy about bringing back a tainted Gove into government, last summer Ben Wallace, currently Security Minister and ally of Boris Johnson, wanted to go all Game of Thrones and perform a penectomy on Michael Gove so Mrs May might be thinking Gove will tear us apart, but she shouldn’t.
Gove as noted above apart from being a thinker, is electorally successful as one of the architects behind Vote Leave, so it would be useful to have him back in the tent. Because Brexit will dominate the next Parliament, but as a believer in Thatcherite free market economics, he’d reassure those Tories alarmed by Mrs May’s Ed Miliband lite policies. Despite his falling out with Cameron, Gove back in government would also reassure the Cameroons that Mrs May won’t trash the legacy of Cameron.
However there is history between Michael Gove and Mrs May and her staff, whilst the focus during this campaign has been on Nick Timothy, the other joint Chief of Staff Fiona Hill was forced out in 2014 when Gove and May clashed when they were Education Secretary and Home Secretary, can Mrs May move on?
Whatever the result on Thursday, the election that was set to strengthen Mrs May is set to diminish her, to ensure that diminution need not be permanent if she gets in a better team, Michael Gove in the cabinet will enhance the government of Mrs May, she should bring him back, if she doesn’t it is clear she’s sticking with her current Chiefs of Staff, who have failed her so spectacularly this campaign.