Liz Truss, Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling and, not least, Theresa May, have all contributed this week to the general sense that no-one is actually in control and that the Ship of State is drifting in the hands of people who really have no idea.
The expression “litany of stupid” in my heading comes from the first of series of tweets yesterday by The Secret Barrister who makes more than one appearance below. None of the people referred to here (IDS apart, of course) can really offer the excuse that they are too thick to know better, but that under-used old expression “stupid is as stupid does” acquired new meaning this week. Anything below which is not a quotation is mine and no-one else is to blame for it.
When you see it suggested on Twitter that somebody prominent has said something really stupid, it is a good idea to go back to the source and check what the actual words were. Quite apart from those who have their own motives for misrepresenting what politicians say, a précis for the purposes of a headline or tweet may have inadvertently misrepresented what was said.
So when I saw that Liz Truss, Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, was quoted as saying that barking dogs could be used to deter drones over prisons, I thought it prudent to go back to the source. Here it is:
The best bit perhaps, is the smirk on the face of Prisons Minister Sam Gyimah as his boss pauses briefly before plunging ahead with this absurdity.
Truss is clearly out of her depth in this or any other position which requires her to open her mouth in public. The best critique of her ability comes in this blog post by The Secret Barrister called Liz Truss is unfit for office and should resign. The context was Truss’s failure to support the judiciary when they were attacked by the cheaper press and others with a mission to mislead the uninformed about the respective roles of government, Parliament and the judiciary on Brexit. I will come back to both The Secret Barrister and Brexit below.
Perhaps Truss was just taking the bullet which would otherwise have hit her boss. Prime Minister Theresa May gave us at last her considered view on Brexit, an amplification of her helpful explanation that “Brexit means Brexit”. We now know that it is to be a “red, white and blue” Brexit. It’s good to have that cleared up. Someone on Twitter suggested that “black and blue” might be a more accurate colour chart for us after Brexit.
The main political idiocy of the week (and it is only Thursday as I write this) comes from Iain Duncan Smith, failed former leader of the Conservative party and hopelessly incompetent former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Unlike Truss and May, IDS is thick, and apparently proud of it.
That much is clear from his article published in the Mail Online yesterday called Why it is crucial that the judges who could decide the fate of Brexit are scrutinised.
The Secret Barrister (who can be found on Twitter as @barristersecret and who was recently and deservedly named Independent Blogger of the Year) gave us a series of tweets on this. The opening one reads
The photograph accompanying the tweet holds other interests. George Osborne is either about to throw up over the chap in front of him or working out where to plant his knife in IDS’s back. The other fellow seems to have nodded off; I can understand this.
HuffPost gathered all the tweets together here and set them to music; The Secret Barrister’s version doesn’t feed you a tiresome advertisement first as HuffPost does (although if this blogger carries on like this, it won’t be long before advertisers are clamouring at the door).:
Read them all, but perhaps this one best illustrates the stupidity of IDS’s attack on the justices of the Supreme Court.
“Parliament is supreme” screams this very silly little man, while complaining at a court application aimed at having Parliament scrutinise the mechanics of our proposed departure from the EU.
No survey of unfitness for office would be complete without an appearance by Chris Grayling. Nasty, dishonest and incompetent, Grayling has been demoted from his former position as Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor and is now in charge of transport. If he stays true to the form he showed at Justice, the management of transport will be sold to the highest private sector bidder – not all shysters necessarily (not all), but all out to screw the highest return from the lowest level of service, supervised by civil servants who range from the uninterested to the seriously stupid.
This week’s Grayling gem is the discovery that, for party political reasons, he rejected the idea of passing to Transport for London the control of rail services serving London from outside its boundaries. His letter to Boris Johnson is here:
The letter predates Grayling’s appointment to Transport (he was at Justice in April 2013) and was written, one assumes, in Grayling’s capacity as MP for one of the areas which would have benefitted from Johnson’s suggestion. It seems that party interests were more important than the needs of Grayling’s constituents
A senior Conservative Party colleague, Bob Neill, called for Grayling’s resignation, expanding on this today in a blog post. Grayling won’t go, of course. This is a man who played fast and loose with his Parliamentary expenses, and had much (not all, alas) of his destructive work at Justice either reversed by his successor or overturned through judicial review by the courts.
We are now, apparently, in the “post-truth” era, a time when there is no surprise, and there are no sanctions, when people lie to get or keep power. Grayling was a trail-blazer for the post-truth era.
What else has the week brought us so far? Michael Gove, John Whittingdale and Jacob Rees-Mogg have all rubbed their hands with excitement at the prospect of undoing legislation protecting health and safety, the environment and workers’ rights. And the Labour Party – weak, gutless, rudderless – has fallen for the government’s assurance that its Brexit proposals will get Parliamentary scrutiny.
There has been one gleam of light in this week’s politics. It came yesterday from Dominic Grieve, once Attorney General until replaced by the under-powered nonentity Jeremy Wright for expressing views which were too independent and too justice-minded for Cameron’s government. Grieve spoke powerfully in the House yesterday, expressly critical of those, including people from his own party, who displayed…
“…vitriolic abuse, polemical argument without any substance, frankly ignorance of the basic ABC of our constitution…”.
Watch it, and weep that talent like this rots on the back benches while the likes of Truss and Grayling sit in government.