After his disastrous spell as justice secretary, why is Chris Grayling still in the cabinet?

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Saturday 02 March 2019 15:04
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Michael Portillo calls Chris Grayling 'most incompetent minister of all-time'

Your assessment of Chris Grayling’s time as justice secretary does not do full justice to its horrors.

His mania for privatisation not only resulted in the significant contracting out of probation services, but he also ran down staffing levels (from which the system is still suffering) and urged longer sentences, both no doubt to create greater scope for further privatisation of an already struggling system. He even had plans (scrapped by Gove, as with other Grayling “innovations”) for American-style mega prisons. He imposed petty if not spiteful constraints on prisoners’ rights, and altogether he set penal policy back to a much less enlightened age. Not content with all that, and with little understanding of the law, he interfered negatively with the work of judges and the judicial system in a number of ways, not least restricting access to legal aid – the cornerstone of a system of fair and equal justice for all.

One day perhaps, as records are released and memoirs published, historians will reveal the full extent to which Grayling and other ministers have persistently ignored the impartial advice of their senior civil servants and other experts, whether on Brexit or lesser but still important issues like judicial and transport policy. If one thing epitomises the bankruptcy of current political life in Britain it is the arrogant continuance in office of Chris Grayling and the apparent insouciance of two prime ministers to the damage that his wide-ranging incompetence has caused.

Gavin Turner
Norfolk

Jokes aside...

So Chris Grayling’s birthday is April 1st. How very appropriate! However... “The fault, dear Chris, is not in our stars but in ourselves.”

Indeed.

Sue Breadner​
Douglas, Isle of Man

Grayling gotta go

The news from the National Audit Office begs the question as to how on earth Chris Grayling is still a government minister.

Having cost the taxpayer millions of pounds with his failure to listen to advisers and bungling decisions in the Ministry of Justice, followed by his complete inability to deal with chaos on the railways as transport secretary and his waste of yet more money with the ridiculous appointment of a company with no ships or track record to run ferries post-Brexit, he really has to be sacked.

Surely someone a bit more competent could be found to replace him? Can anyone explain why he is in the cabinet?

Helen Watson
Reading

I take issue with Williamson’s suspension

As a grassroots Labour supporter I find the treatment of Chris Williamson deplorable – and fully agree with his comments.

The question of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has been the subject of derision and conflict since he took office – and his stance in dealing with it has been very effective, as he was elected and respected for his “anti-racism of any kind” views.

But this will not do – when it affects party members he is there to lead, support and defend. He must speak out, and get a grip of Tom Watson before he damages the party image to the point it cannot be reversed, with his holier than thou rhetoric!

Thousands of people from every party over the past couple of years have been critical of the Israeli government’s policies on Palestine – including myself – and I would not apologise or consider myself antisemitic for holding these views, which has happened to Chris Williamson, a loyal, hard-working member of the Labour Party whose view on this subject is “don’t apologise for something you aren’t doing – as it then looks like you are”.

To be critical is not to be racist. This diversionary tactic must be approached head on and dealt with swiftly, or the reason Corbyn was elected will be lost!

This is what Chris Williamson was saying and was applauded for, and the party hierarchy must take note, act accordingly and reinstate Williamson.

M Aspin
Lancashire

No longer silent

Antisemitism is appalling in any and every guise, as virtually everyone in the Labour Party agrees – especially Chris Williamson and Jeremy Corbyn, who’ve been campaigning against it all their political lives, and haven’t just recently discovered it for cynical political purposes.

Thank heavens that Labour now has a general secretary – Jennie Formby – who’s not only dealing robustly with antisemitism in those few places where it does exist in the party, but who also has the courage to take on the deliberate weaponising of the issue by the Labour right, including by deputy leader, Tom Watson.

Establishment forces (including the BBC) have been allowed to get away with this carefully choreographed weaponising of the antisemitism issue for far too long, and members like myself just aren’t going to collude with, and stay silent about, this calculated establishment assault on Jeremy Corbyn and progressive politics any longer.

Dr Richard House
Stroud

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London, NW2

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