Christopher Grayling – The Ultimate Incompetent Politician?

Who is this man?

His name is Christopher Grayling. He’s a British Tory Member of Parliament and presently Theresa May’s Secretary of State for Transport. (The title used to be “Minister of Transport”, but Secretary of State sounds grander – it isn’t).

Grayling has served in, or maybe ‘cocked-up’ would be more accurate, a number of ministerial positions, most notable that of Lord Chancellor. Grayling had not one wit of knowledge or qualification to hold this position. The weak-chinned and pathetic apology for a prime minister, David Cameron, put him there. It has always been the prerogative of a senior member of the legal profession to hold the Office, and Grayling was the first non-lawyer in 440 years to do so. He was also the first Lord Chancellor to cause the first ever strike in British history by barristers and solicitors, over his draconian cuts to legal aid payments for the poor.

“Most judges, lawyers, probation staff, prison officers, victims, court staff and people denied access to justice believe that you have been the worst Lord Chancellor since Lord Shaftesbury in 1673,” Chris Grayling was told by his Labour shadow Sadiq Khan, as they faced each other in the Commons for the last time before the election.

Okay, you can expect criticism from someone from the opposition party in Parliament, but how about a leading Queen’s Council, Lord Pannick:

Lord Chancellor Grayling, […] in the words of one QC, Lord Pannick, is “notable only for his attempts to restrict judicial review and human rights, his failure to protect the judiciary against criticism from his colleagues; and the reduction of legal aid to a bare minimum”.[1]

Prior to this debacle, Grayling was the Minister for Works and Pensions. This put him in charge of all the jobcentres in the country. To cut costs he threw 100,000* jobcentre workers out of their employment, then proceeded to castigate the unemployed and cut benefits in an effort to force people with long term disabilities back to work.

(*This figure from Wikipedia cannot be verified, but it was certainly many thousands).

While Lord Chancellor, he banned prisoners from having books on the grounds they may contain drugs. Between 2012 and 2015 he cut the numbers of prison officers from 23,000 to 18,000 causing the Justice Select Committee, an oversight committee comprised of MPs from various parties, to conclude:

.. “it is not possible to avoid the conclusion” that changes in policy, including efficiency savings and staffing shortages, “have made a significant contribution to the deterioration in safety”…The MPs’ year-long inquiry into prisons concludes…

The MPs warn that there is a “very real danger of unmanageable growth” in the prison population, which at more than 85,000 is already at record levels, unless there are significant changes in both the current “tough rhetoric” and policy on sentencing. [2]

For all his ‘good works’, Theresa May made him Secretary of State for Transport, and in the run up to Christmas 2018 Gatwick Airport was forced to close over three days due to drones near the runways. Surely, one would assume, an incident worthy of the attention of Britain’s Secretary of State for Transport?

On December 23rd, The Daily Telegraph published the headline:

DfT [Department for Transport] accused of delaying crack RAF team from taking on Gatwick drone.

According to Wikipedia (somebody had obviously paid the extortionate fees demanded by this Tory rag, to read the Telegraph article):

…Grayling had ignored “numerous warnings” about the threat posed by drones, halting draft legislation due for publication in early 2019 thereby allowing civil servants to be diverted to Brexit related tasks. According to the Daily Telegraph, the RAF offered the assistance of a specialist anti-drone team almost immediately but Grayling’s department – which would have had to pay for the service – was reluctant to accept.[3]

Graylings latest coup de grace comes today via a headline from the Guardian newspaper:

Grayling defends giving Brexit ferry contract to company with no ships.

In an effort to dilute the serious effects of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, the UK government is spending hundreds of millions of pounds, 13.8 million of which the esteemed Secretary of State for Transport has handed over to a cross-channel ferry company to increase capacity and get trucks across the English Channel more quickly.

The only drawback to this fine scheme is that the company concerned has no ships.

The local Conservative councillor Paul Messenger was the first to raise concern in public about awarding such a lucrative contract to a firm with no prior experience. “It has no ships and no trading history so how can due diligence be done?” he told the BBC.

He said the company had not moved “a single truck in their entire history … I don’t understand the logic of that”.[4]

It seems unlikely that anyone else does either – except, of course, Secretary of State for Transport The Right Honorable (can you believe that!) Christopher Grayling, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May who gave him the job, and a number of other ‘Oxbridge’ spew-outs calling themselves ‘right honorables’, and pretending to know how to run a country when in truth they’d be incapable of running a child’s electric train set.

Ineptitude: the hallmark of Britain’s politicians today, with Christopher Grayling at the forefront.

[1] “Chris Grayling the worst Lord Chancellor for 342 years? No, worse” The Independent, 17th March 2015

[2] “UK justice minister ‘complacent’ over 38% rise in prison deaths, say MPs” The Guardian, 18th March 2015

[4] “Grayling defends giving Brexit ferry contract to company with no ships” The Guardian, 2nd January 2019

[3] “Wikipedia, Chris Grayling.