Michael Gove's shuffle - it wasn't Lynton Crosby

Michael Gove's move in the reshuffle did puzzle me, so I have spent the last 24 hours talking to various people inside Downing Street.

New Tory Chief Whip Michael Gove. Credit: PA

These are my conclusions:

  • The decision to move Mr Gove didn't have much to do with Lynton Crosby. Yes, some of the polling the Tory election guru did a while back turned up some quite negative results on Michael, but Lynton certainly wasn't behind his departure.
  • The decision to move him was squarely David Cameron's. It seems to have been a question of discipline; too much fighting in class with colleagues.
  • David Cameron's defence is that the move to Chief Whip was originally Michael's idea. Allegedly, Michael told the PM some time ago that he would quite like to be Chief Whip one day.
  • David told him he genuinely wanted him right at the centre of things and that this was a promotion as well as a demotion (if you see what I mean). Michael drove a hard bargain. He will attend all cabinet committees AND the National Security Council. Working in unison with his close ally and friend George Osborne, he is likely to be a very powerful Chief Whip indeed.