Nicky Morgan profile: Could an education secretary charged with ‘winning hearts and minds’ make it all the way to number 10?

The Huffington Post has put together a detailed profile of new education secretary Nicky Morgan and asks if she has what it takes not just to be successful in the role but to make it all the way to number 10. This is an extract…

…Appointed education secretary by David Cameron on 15 July, Morgan was part of a small handful of female Tory MPs promoted in the reshuffle – and dubbed by the Daily Mail as the Downing Street “catwalk”. Despite securing a plum position in the cabinet, however, it was the employment minister Esther McVey who dominated the front pages and the airwaves while the Westminster chatter focused on the surprise demotion of Michael Gove, rather than the woman who replaced him.

That will have suited Morgan just fine. Beneath the radar, with little public fuss, the 41-year-old lawyer has risen from newly-elected backbencher to secretary of state in the space of just four years…

Yet despite her lack of public profile, her impressive ascent was not unexpected in some quarters. “It was pretty obvious she was going to rise meteorically through the ranks,” one Tory MP observes, pointing out her close ties to both Cameron and George Osborne, the chancellor. “She is one of DC’s favourites.”

The former City lawyer was seemingly picked out as a star early on. Cameron visited her Loughborough constituency three or four times during the 2010 campaign, recording a personal video endorsement along the way. These days, a Whitehall source relays, Morgan “has been seeing the prime minister regularly as minister for women and has had lots of personal access. She’s a great communicator, she has handled briefs before and she is going to play a big part”…

“I genuinely think she could be leader,” well-connected Tory blogger and LBC host Iain Dale says of Morgan. After all, she would not be the first female Conservative education secretary to make a unexpected but successful pitch for the top job.

…A pleasant and calm manner is a theme that is repeated when Westminster types are asked about the new secretary of state. “She’s very polite, effective and good at getting everyone around the room together. She’s got no airs and graces and cuts right down to the issue,” a Treasury source says. “She’s very bright, decent, open and affable. Her private office all really liked her.”

Her friendliness and charm appear to extend up and down the ranks. “She always says ‘hi’ when you pass by her in the corridors,” says a junior aide to a Tory MP who worked next door to Morgan in the Commons.

And another MP describes her as “highly personable” and “someone people will warm to and like and that is her big wow factor”. The backbencher adds: “Teachers will find it difficult to hate her in the way they did Gove. If I had to list her qualities I would say she is clever, accomplished, principled, diligent, wise and lovely.”

“Not only is Nicky a nice person, there is something deeper about her. She doesn’t follow the pack and has an intelligence and maturity which enables her to respect principle, unlike the Osbornites,” says another Tory, disputing the ‘Osbornite’ label that is often tagged to the new education secretary…

One of Morgan’s first duties that day had been to respond to the controversial allegations of a ‘Trojan Horse’ Islamist plot to take over Birmingham schools. She gave her statement to the Commons while her predecessor, now chief whip, sat by her side “like a boy on the naughty step,” recalls one Tory frontbencher.

The change in tone was instantly apparent to all present. “What has been so upsetting about the history in this small handful of schools is that the success of efforts to encourage more British Muslims to take up governing roles has been damaged,” Morgan told MPs, eschewing the provocative, ‘draining the swamp’ rhetoric of Gove.

A cabinet colleague observes of Morgan’s approach to the row over Muslims and schools: “She brings sanity not sensationalism to a serious subject.” Liberals agree. The Guardian parliamentary sketch of the occasion noted, Morgan “soothed” the House

Returning to her office from the Commons chamber, Morgan instructed aides to place a call to the National Union of Teachers (NUT), which, like other teaching unions, had been derisively dismissed by her predecessor as part of a backwards-looking and unreconstructed education ‘Blob’. She wanted to reach out to the teachers – and sooner rather than later.

Deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney, standing in for NUT general secretary Christine Blower, who was out of the country, says his conversation with Morgan was “pleasant” and that he got a clear sense that “she wants to be education secretary in a different way”…

More at: Nicky Morgan Profile: Could An Education Secretary Charged With ‘Winning Hearts And Minds’ Make It All The Way To Number 10?

 

It’s still really early days, but your initial reactions to Nicky Morgan’s performance as education secretary so far? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…

 

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Comments

  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Encouraging that NickyMorgan01 seems to show others some respect rather than Gove’s antagonistic stance towards everyone

  2. nrcantor

    SchoolsImprove Time will tell whether she’s cut out for the role, or as totally unqualified as Gove was.

  3. LaCatholicState

    I don’t rate her intellectual capabilities or her people skills.  It’s a big NO from me.  I figure Boris will eat her alive.

  4. LaCatholicState

    I don’t rate her intellectual capabilities or her people skills.  It’s a big NO from me.  I figure Boris will eat her alive.

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