The Guardian has got hold of a leaked email in which Michael Gove suggests buying the Queen a yacht to celebrate her golden jubilee.
The paper reports:
Gove at one point comes close to suggesting that Britain’s dire economic climate means that a large-scale celebration is required to lift the country’s spirits.
The education secretary writes: “In spite, and perhaps because of the austere times, the celebration should go beyond those of previous jubilees and mark the greater achievement that the diamond anniversary represents.”
The Liberal Democrats privately expressed surprise at the proposal, which is likely to cost at least £60 million, at a time of national austerity.
The £60 million figure comes from estimations made when HMS Britannia was decommissioned in 1997. Given the existence of inflation, it seems likely that the true cost would be vastly higher.
When considering giving the 27th richest woman in the world a free yacht, it might be worth looking at the value of that yacht in broader terms.
Considering the suggestion comes from Gove, he would probably know that that money would pay for his cash-strapped department to build two new schools, fund seven for a year, or pay the salary of 1,200 teachers for a year.
Looking at other topical funding crises, it would pay for 9230 people to receive the highest rates of DLA for a year, 38,461 pupils to receive the highest rate of EMA for a year, and three-quarters of the government’s cancelled loan to Sheffield Forgemasters.
It would also ‘pay’ for just under a quarter of the ‘cost’ of AV.
Downing Street have responded to the claim that the money may come from public funds by saying:
“I don’t think anyone is suggesting that.”
Call us conspiracists if you will, but a mysterious email containing a wild plan guaranteed to stoke outrage is leaked just in time for the Monday morning press storm, and then the government backtracks on it almost immediately. Today might be a good day to keep an eye out for buried bad news.
• The best preventative medicine in the world can’t undo the damage of Osborne’s austerity – Dr Tristan Learoyd, November 2nd 2011
• Clinton: UK’s austerity budget could mean deficit will increase – Will Straw, July 7th 2011
• Monarchy “perpetuates inequality” says Plaid AM – Ed Jacobs, June 8th 2011
• Weak EU growth reveals the price of austerity – Ben Fox, February 15th 2011
• The new austerity of the Big Society – Anna Coote, November 8th 2010