In addition, Gove has started to find his own voice, delivering a series of speeches on school standards where he has used the E-words (elitism and excellence). A good press has resulted.
Education is turning into one of the government's success stories, while elsewhere it is under a great deal of pressure from the flatlining condition of the economy and its botched attempts to reform the health service. The battle he is fighting with his Liberal Democrat colleague Vince Cable over control of universities is proof of his growing confidence.
Gove has sensibly presented his efforts as a continuation of New Labour's public service reforms rather than a year-zero revolution. Labour's shadow education secretary, the third since the election, is the Blairite Stephen Twigg. The Labour leadership is shifting itself into a position where it can take some of the credit for a reform programme that it knows will be popular with parents. The trade unions, who hate Gove, are a different matter: "The real opposition to what we're doing lies there," he says.
That Gove is actually winning is in danger of being taken for granted by Conservatives and others who want to see dramatic reform and substantial improvement in the education system in England and Wales. But he is winning, and it matters. How does it feel?
"It is certainly better than the alternative. I have been helped by the fact that I'm doing what David Cameron wants. My instincts on education are his. The Lib Dems have moved to a much better position on education and the Blair era people like Andrew Adonis want to help us."
We are meeting in Marylebone on a cold Friday afternoon in early February, in the corner bar of one of London's oldest hotels. An open fire blazes and Gove has his bags packed for the journey out of London for the weekend. Chris Huhne has resigned as Energy Secretary just a few hours before, in order to face trial with his former wife. We briefly discuss the phenomenon of cabinet careers cut short and the fickleness of politics. This government, not yet two years old, is getting through ministers at quite a rate. The Liberal Democrat Treasury minister David Laws resigned in May 2010 and the Tory Defence Secretary Liam Fox followed last October.
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