IF you believe the chat, we are all spending the lockdown acquiring new skills. Some have taken up a musical instrument, others are making their own bread, still more are rediscovering exercise.

Michael Gove has been working on a Donald Trump impersonation.

At least that was the impression from watching him on the Sunday politics shows. What prompted the Scot to reveal this new talent was the same thing that led the US President to let rip last week – a newspaper report.

Mr Trump was furious over a New York Times article that said he had failed to heed experts’ warnings about coronavirus, and as a result precious weeks had been wasted in preparing for the coming disaster.

The Sunday Times, under the headline, “Revealed – how the government sleepwalked into pandemic catastrophe”, essentially laid the same charge at the door of Boris Johnson and his government.

In particular, the paper’s Insight investigation team said Mr Johnson missed five meetings of the COBRA emergency committee. Moreover, ministers sent to China hundreds of thousands of items of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), material currently in short supply in some places.

Serious charges. Important, then, that they be tackled head on. As luck or planning would have it, the Minister on Sunday duty was Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the man usually called upon when the Government has fires to put out.

Fireman Michael had quite a shift to put in. Before getting to the Sunday Times he had to damp down acres of speculation about the lifting of social distancing rules – the Great Unlocking as opposed to the Great Lockdown. The first to get back to normal, the Sunday papers reported, would be schools on May 11.

Mr Gove put his red pen through that suggestion. “Not true.”

Ridge turned to the Sunday Times story, asking if PPE had been sent to China. Mr Gove refused to engage. “I won’t get into a to and fro.”

Adopting the disappointed teacher persona she does so well, Ridge moved on to Mr Johnson and the missed meetings.

She reminded Mr Gove of what he had said in 2016 when he withdrew his backing for Mr Johnson’s leadership bid and entered the race himself. To wit: “Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.” Had he proved that correct?

“The idea that the Prime Minister skipped meetings that were vital to our response to the coronavirus is grotesque,” said an increasingly animated Mr Gove.

Next on Ridge on Sunday was Jon Ashworth, the Shadow Health Secretary, who was not impressed by the Govester. “The weakest rebuttal of a detailed expose in British political history.”

Consider Labour’s period of “constructive engagement” with the Government over, or at least as far as Mr Ashworth goes.

Mr Gove finished his interview with Ridge before 9am. He had under an hour before he appeared on The Andrew Marr Show. More stonewalling would not do.

He had his answers ready this time. The PM had not attended the five meetings, but that was because such discussions were led by the relevant Secretary of State. The UK did send PPE to China but it was not from the UK’s pandemic stock, and the UK had received far more than it gave.

His dander up, Mr Gove, a former journalist, attacked the messenger. One was reminded of the Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction, in which a gangster threatened to “get medieval” on someone’s “a**”.

The Minister fumed: “If you wrench facts out of context in order to create a particular prosecution case you can do that, of course you can do that, but it doesn’t do justice to the whole story.

“What I found grotesque – GROTESQUE, Andrew – was the idea that our Prime Minister should be portrayed as not caring about this when anyone who has seen him lead the response to this crisis will know his focus, his energy, his determination, his passion, has been to beat this virus.

“That’s why I was, as I said with a level of Aberdonian understatement, a wee bit concerned about it.”

Aberdonian understatement indeed. He was furious. Trump-level furious.

The morning’s most eloquent communicator, a bringer of light rather than heat, turned out to be a person of science rather than a politician.

Sarah Gilbert, the Oxford professor leading one of the searches for a vaccine, told Marr she hoped to start clinical trials next week.

Clear, informative, persuasive while not overstating her case, Prof Gilbert said it was vital that the Government help set up manufacturing facilities in the UK that could produce a vaccine on a massive scale.

Interview over, Marr said his thanks. “Right,” said the prof, pushing her chair back, “I’ll get back to work”.

As another wise soul once said, if you want something done, ask a busy person.

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