It would probably be stretching it to suggest Michael Gove is a rock star, but the lord chancellor certainly draws crowds wherever he goes.
After a full house at his maiden ‘one nation’ speech last month there was barely a spare seat for his debut gig at the House of Commons justice committee.
The box-office nature of his evidence session was helped by the announcement, just minutes before, of the Criminal Bar Association ballot in favour of direct action.
The usual pleasantries were exchanged between Gove and new justice committee chair Bob Neill, though mutual back-slapping got a little tiresome when Gove praised Neill for his ‘unerring political acumen’ in asking a straightforward question.
Neill was on similar form, choosing to thank Gove for his generosity three times after the justice secretary overstayed his allotted time by a full 15 minutes.
Gove was ‘disappointed’ by the CBA ballot but said he was willing to talk – so willing that he deployed the word ‘talk’ half a dozen times within five minutes.
However, while barristers were praised for their ‘genuine concern that some individuals who deserve access to justice do not get it’, solicitors barely merited a mention. This omission did not go unnoticed.