No no, this is not what you think. You think this is about that tweet last week which surmised that Chris Grayling had only kept his position in Cabinet because he knew too much to be sacked. Well it’s not.
It is partly about a new report that 60,000 bodies will have to be dug up to make way for the government’s vanity railway project HS2. It refers also to the “bodies” of Grayling’s policies while at the Ministry of Justice. Two more of those skeletons rose gibbering and squeaking from the MoJ crypt in the last few days.
Chris Grayling is now Secretary of State for Transport, having been sacked from Justice by David Cameron for being comprehensively useless at it. Whether that should be a qualification for taking charge of the nation’s transport infrastructure I am not sure, but that was perhaps behind the tweeted suggestion referred to above to the effect that Grayling knows too much to be sacked – why else would a PM keep someone so patently unfit for office?
Here is a short video showing how Grayling’s policies at Justice planned out:
The last in the sequence, the sheep which pops up and hits Grayling when he thought the worst was over, is a representation of UNISON’s success last week in the Supreme Court. That overturned the government’s order levying steep fees on applicants to Employment Tribunals and to the Employment Appeals Tribunal. The Supreme Court took the opportunity to reiterate some fundamental points about the constitutional right of access to the courts – see Paragraph 66 and those which follow it
Someone has helpfully provided a list of all Grayling’s failures while at Justice.
There is a fuller lists in Politics Home under the title The nine Chris Grayling policies overturned after he left the MoJ.
The other of Grayling’s newly-exhumed “bodies” from his time at Justice was his partial privatisation of the probation service. The Times headline was Privatisation of probation service blamed for crime rise (£). The headline tells only part of the story – the privatisation process also faced a cash shortfall which the government has bailed out to the tune of £31 million.
This is the familiar Grayling pattern – destroy something which worked, without any calculation of either cost or risk, flog it off to private enterprise, and then affect surprise when the end result is a worse service for no saving.
The list above includes only the actions which have been formally overturned or abandoned. Grayling’s long-term legacy is much more damaging than that. His reign at Justice was characterised by ideology trumping decency and common-sense, botched project planning and implementation, budgets which looked only at the direct costs and took no account of knock-on expenses and indirect costs, and an apparent inability to tell the truth about anything.
HS2 looked shaky from the outset, and the botched budgeting and unexplained resignations since then have done nothing to make it look better. There seem to be too many mixed motives, both political and financial, which have nothing to do with the infrastructure needs of the economy. Another Politics Home article of last week called Chris Grayling accused of HS2 budget cover-up had familar themes for those who followed his progress at Justice.
Happy chance (happy for some at least) brings Grayling to Transport just as large contracts are let to private enterprises at a stage which will require considerable practice at pushing through unpopular measures, masking embarrassing budget figures, and just lying where necessary. I’d say that Grayling is the perfect man for the job.
Here is Chris Grayling in what I always think of as his natural environment.