Analysis: Gove is a rock to which British Jewry can cling

In 1852, the Duke of Wellington gave Lord Derby's first government its nickname. The by then very deaf Duke had the names of the new cabinet read out to him at his club and bellowed "Who? Who?" as he was told of each member.

Thus was born the "Who? Who?" administration. David Cameron and Nick Clegg have just formed the "What? What?" administration.

In the space of a few days, the whole of British politics has been transformed and observers have been struggling to understand what it means. Nick Clegg and Iain Duncan Smith in the same Cabinet. What? What?

So it's good, in this novel, unpredictable situation, that the Jewish community can grasp on to something reassuring and unchanging. Michael Gove.

It’s hard to find a politician as friendly to the Jewish community

The coalition agreement with the Liberal Democrats makes the government's broader policy towards faith communities harder to read. But whatever one's politics, Michael Gove's arrival as Schools Secretary is good news for the Jews.

It is hard to find in modern politics a politician as friendly to the Jewish community as Michael Gove.

It gets better. He comes with the additional advantage that he isn't actually Jewish and thus does not feel constrained to show that he doesn't favour the Jews too much.

His presence will have two big advantages. The first is in his portfolio. His support for Jewish schools and his backing on specific issues - assisting with the funding of Jewish school security, for instance - will be very welcome.

But the second advantage may prove even more important. Gove is part of Cameron's inner circle. With Israel a potential source of tension between the new coalition partners, his robust support could prove invaluable.

Daniel Finkelstein is associate editor of The Times

    Last updated: 2:05pm, May 13 2010