How do you follow a week in which the chief event of note was a Minister of the Crown planning to tackle drones by setting dogs on them? That was my opening shot in last week’s post; this week’s collection of political absurdities may lack that high point but there is enough to get my teeth into.
Nicky Morgan, an undistinguished minister under Cameron, found no place in the cabinet of the more discriminating Theresa May. Casting around for a stick to beat the PM with, Morgan had a go at May’s £995 brown leather trousers. I think it was the price-tag which was the cause of Morgan’s ire rather than the fashion choice, and an undignified spat followed, with Morgan banned from Downing Street meetings in spiteful little texts from May’s catty gatekeeper.
There’s a time and place for leather trousers – perhaps best to mute my suggestions as to when and where that might be – but, that apart, a woman with a successful career and a place in the public eye is entitled to spend what she likes on her clothes. Besides, I am pushed to think of any other workplace where a junior would criticise the boss’s clothes and not expect a backlash.
Someone on Twitter suggested that a pair of brown, wipe-clean trousers was a sensible choice for a PM dealing with Brexit.
Squirrelled away on the back benches (or perhaps under them) is a nonentity of a Tory MP called Ian Liddell-Grainger. He forgot to renew his firearms certificate and was “appalled” to learn that it would take 16 weeks to issue a new one. He accused Avon and Somerset Police of “utter incompetence” and tried the “don’t you know who I am?” gambit. Plod very sensibly suggested that the government might like to give the force some more money so they could deal with these things more quickly.
The dispute between Southern Railway and the rail unions reached such a pitch that people are having to give up their jobs or move house to get to work. How do you choose between a shyster train operating company and a bully-boy union fighting about who gets to push the buttons to open and close the doors? Flea, meet Louse.
Afterthought: without taking sides here, there should of course be guards on trains for all sorts of reasons. Not for pushing buttons on doors though. As with other things mentioned below, the disputants would do better in the public mind if they focused on arguments which actually matter.
Someone said that Transport Minister Chris Grayling ought to be getting involved, but given Grayling’s history of screwing up everything he touches, I am not convinced that this is a good idea. I suggested that the dispute be resolved by a duel, with Grayling standing between the disputants.
I’m tempted by the idea of writing an article about Grayling bringing to the rail dispute the same approach as he brought to Justice. That would involve severely reducing the infrastructure, the service, and the support staff while charging users much more, lying through his teeth about pay rates, seriously pissing off the people whose goodwill he needs, flogging off services to the highest bidder, doing without risk-assessments, failing to allow for consequential costs, and banning passengers from reading on the train. Perhaps it is just as well that he keeps out of it.
Grayling was in my neck of the woods last week, opening a new link between Oxford and Oxford Parkway stations. It was incautious of him, I thought, to stand with his back to the platform edge.
Grayling was in the news again after opening his car door in the path of a cyclist, a few days after publicly criticising both cyclists and the road space given to them; he then left the scene without giving his name. There is talk of a crowd-funded prosecution – it would be good to see Grayling dragged through the courts after his leading role in destroying the justice system. This might be the first prosecution which barristers would pay to take on.
David Davis, Minister for Telling the EU to Fuck Off, tried to explain himself to a Parliamentary committee. To the extent that he was comprehensible at all, it seems that..… well, I’m not sure what is happening really, and clearly neither is Davis.
This tweet illustrated the truism that you only spot the omitted word in a tweet when someone else retweets it.
Mrs May went to an EU meeting where a clip showed the others ignoring her, leaving her awkwardly alone. Yes, their manners might have been better, but the patronising, ignorant bollocks which David Davis had been spouting about them perhaps limited the scope for small talk.
The Ministry of Defence denied furiously that its new aircraft carriers would be without planes. It might have some as early as 2018, it said, and would be up to strength by 2020. It is just as well that the world is so peaceful and harmonious at the moment.
From the dark swamps of Parliament comes someone called Angela Rayner, describing Mrs May as the “unelected prime minister”.
We do not, of course, elect prime ministers in this country, and, whatever you think of Mrs May, her ascendancy via a Conservative party election was no different from that which brought Gordon Brown to Number 10. It would be good if people like Angela Rayner, and the Labour Party generally, were to try and hold Theresa May to account on policy, and not reveal their stupidity by uttering tripe like this.
Remainer barrister Jolyon Maugham QC quickly raised the funds for an application to the Irish Court over the revocability or otherwise of a notice under Article 50. I am unclear as to the legal, political or strategic value of this application, but I am appalled at the abuse which Maugham has received from Brexiteers for his pains. There is room for reasoned arguments on both sides of the Remainer/Brexiteer divide and my Twitter timeline has both. The bulk of the abuse, however, comes from the Brexit camp. The “You lost, suck it up” approach, and worse, is designed to intimidate and to suppress contrary views – few have the guts with which Maugham faces down attacks.
I won’t treat you to an example, but Maugham says of one of them “You have to laugh at the sheer strategic incompetence of this kind of stuff. It animates the small core support and alienates all neutrals”. This is much the same point as I make about the wretched Angela Rayner – keep a focus on the points which matter and at least try and get your facts right.
The Daily Mail, which has done so much to give the Brexit camp its unthinking, triumphalist, bully-boy tone, told its readers that it was the Remainers who were being “nasty”. We Brexiteers, said the headline, are not “senile, thick, knuckle-dragging racists”. Well not all of them are, but it is the Mail which has encouraged many Brexiteers to be so vile.
The new Master of the Rolls came up with the idea that lawyers could be replaced by unqualified, untrained, unskilled, uninsured, unregulated graduates – the sort of idea you might get from the unskilled, overpaid, lazy pen-pushers at the MoJ, not from a senior judge. @Crimbarrister had some forthright and eloquent words on the subject in a post called Don’t put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington!
It has been suggested that all police officers should be graduates – that worked so well with nurses, didn’t it? It drove out many good people who lacked the substantial sums needed to acquire a certificate to stick on the wall, contributing to the present recruitment crisis. Oh well, we can always get some from the EU, freedom of movement and all that. Oh.
Certainly we could do with a bit of brain at the top – there’s that senior plod from Wiltshire, for example, thick as a brick and half as useful to judge by his performance as he did some grandstanding outside Ted Heath’s house last year. Millions are being spent finding out if Ted Heath touched someone’s bottom in 1974; the investigators are not impressing their witnesses, according to a Telegraph article Heath investigation branded “incompetent” by witnesses. Or there’s the plods who dragged Lord Bramall and Harvey Proctor through the dirt because they were too stupid to evaluate the “evidence” of a known liar. You don’t need a degree to avoid that, just a couple of brain cells. That’s back in the news because Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, head of the Metropolitan Police, has finally been dragged out to admit errors and talk of compensation. Hogan-Howe’s problem isn’t stupidity, it’s lack of any honour, honesty, scruple, or common decency.
I have a slightly confused picture in my head, derived from mixing two expressions. I picture lemmings in hand carts racing towards a cliff top, below which boil the fires of Hell. In the lead is a hand cart pushed by David Davis and in it, along with some lemmings, are Theresa May and the country.