Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Does Chris Grayling dream of electric sheep?

 

There are times when you can’t help wondering if Chris Grayling is a (fairly) sophisticated android. Maybe it’s because of the rather wooden gesture he makes with his forearm and outstretched hand; or maybe the robotic way he says things that sound like they were written by a computer.

All ministers tend to sound like this when they’re reading their first answer from a brief. But Grayling even does it with supplementaries. What was he doing to help women “out of the cycle of crime and reoffending”, asked the Tory Mark Harper. “I can confirm that arrangements were put in place in the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014 to ensure that there is a statutory obligation to make arrangements for women,” said the Justice Secretary, metallically.

If he’s an android, Grayling is operated by a very right-wing programme of course. So it was quite an achievement for his Labour opposite number Sadiq Khan to make him sound like a liberal. So desperate these days is the Labour front bench to represent the forces of law and order that Khan chose to lambast him over the recent escape of two men, one convicted for murder (in 1998), from the Category D Spring Hill prison, saying the “wrong sort of offenders are being sent to the wrong sort of prison”. Grayling said Khan sounded like he wanted to get rid of open prisons which help to rehabilitate prisoners before release and that “almost everyone who goes to an open prison behaves well and is able to be released safely… Is he saying that that should change?” 

Luckily, there are still a few liberals left in the Labour Party. Kevin Brennan pressed the call he has made to reverse Grayling’s mean-minded ban on steel-stringed guitars, along with Billy Bragg, on whose initiative 350 of the instruments have been supplied to prisons. The mild-mannered Prisons minister Jeremy Wright said he was currently examining the “security advice” on the subject. Whatever that can be.

Meanwhile, Labour’s York Central MP Hugh Bayley asked Lib Dem minister Simon Hughes – without much success – to ensure that Richard III’s forthcoming reburial in Leicester Cathedral would be conducted “in a way which acknowledges King Richard’s close association with Yorkshire”. Quite how this feat should be performed Bayley didn’t say. But it seems odd that for centuries Richard, thanks to the – perhaps unfair – depiction of him by Shakespeare and Tudor historians, was a royal pariah; yet now that his skeleton has been found under a Leicester car park, everyone wants a piece of him. Though not literally, you have to hope.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Graduate Software Developer / Junior Developer

£20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Trainee Teacher - Maths

£18000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organization is the larges...

Recruitment Genius: Delegate Telesales Executive - OTE £21,000 uncapped

£16000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: High quality, dedicated Delegat...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - School Playground Designer

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor