In his most spectacular demonstration of crass stupidity ever, David Cameron has thrown Ken Clarke and his progressive team of ministers out of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). In caving in to the ultra-right wing Home Secretary, Theresa May and “traditional” Conservative MPs, The OpinionSite.org suggests that the prime minister has destroyed the last hope for common sense and reform in matters of Law and Order in Britain today.
The ever less competent Theresa May has been trying to get rid of Clarke for years and hates him with a vengeance. She once said, “I find reasons to lock people up and Ken Clarke comes along and lets them out.”
Meanwhile, ever since the last election and Clarke’s surprise appointment to the MoJ, right wing Tory MPs have been trying to stick a knife in his back at every opportunity for fear that his common sense approach to Law and Order would be seen by the public as the Conservatives going ‘soft on crime’ and also deprive politicians across the House of Commons of one of their favourite methods of picking up cheap votes.
Not only has Clarke gone but also his superb team of reforming ministers, including the excellent prisons minister, Crispin Blunt.
Nick Herbert, who was (very usefully) a minister in both the MoJ and the Home Office, resigned after Clarke was kicked out, one source telling The OpinionSite.org that Herbert was ‘disgusted’ that years of progress had been thrown away for the sake of making Theresa May’s life easier.
Clarke’s replacement could not be more different to the experienced lawyer that sought to bring reality back into the Ministry of Justice.
Chris Grayling is a right-wing, anti-gay man who claims to be a Christian but appears to lack any compassion for families or individuals and has stated that he wants to build more prisons, to lock up more people and lock them up for longer. Of course, if that Conservative policy worked, with the highest prison numbers in Europe the UK should now have no crime whatsoever.
We know these unfortunate things about Mr Grayling because when he was shadow Home Secretary before the last election and an immigration minister in the current administration, he stated that gay couples should be refused accommodation if the landlord did not approve of gays sleeping together, stated that Britain’s criminal justice system was ‘broken’ and criticised the fact that there were insufficient prison places available for the number of people he wanted to lock up.
Grayling is a keen fan of American ‘justice’ and is mainly interested in his own career progression rather than in doing the best thing for the country that he allegedly serves. He is a keen advocate of scrapping the Human Rights Act which protects us all from the excessive power of government.
He also apparently believes that the European Court of Human Rights is part of that which small-minded Conservatives hate most – “Europe”. In fact of course, the ECtHR has nothing whatsoever to do with the EU.
Grayling also has one other glaring fault that Cameron has chosen to ignore: the man is not a lawyer – despite now being responsible for the government ministry that deals with the very administration of Justice and Law and Order.
The OpinionSite.org must also point out that Grayling was not, as reported in the press, second choice for the job; in fact, he was the third choice, two serving ministers having turned down the post when asked.
Ken Clarke’s voice and common sense approach will still be heard however. In his new role of Minister without Portfolio – a ‘voice of reason’ that wanders from one department to another – he will still attend Cabinet, advise the prime minister and take part in discussions, although mainly behind closed doors where there is no risk of Cameron being embarrassed by the truth.
Grayling on the other hand has an uncertain future ahead of him, particularly in the field of prison and sentence reform.
Although publicly, Downing Street has advised that there will be “no challenge to the rehabilitation revolution” so bravely set up by Clarke and that the government will continue to “pursue the rehabilitation of offenders and the reduction of reoffending”, the fact still remains that Grayling was against the abolition of IPP sentences, opposed the greater use of community sentences instead of custody and criticised the closure of out-dated, obsolete prisons.
Like Theresa May, Grayling desperately wants to lock up more people for longer in order to prove he is ‘tough on crime’. He wants to build more prisons to accommodate those he targets and he wants to scrap the Human Rights Act which, agree with it or not, is the only thing that protects the public from the ever more powerful state that Britain has become.
His problem is that there is no money to pay for these measures. The MoJ must, along with the Home Office and other departments, make a 27% cut in its expenditure. It has to save money, not spend more of it.
Good job too, The OpinionSite.org would say. We have all seen what happens when governments have unlimited money to spend on “Justice”.
In case readers have difficulty in remembering, it is perhaps worth being reminded that when he was in power, aided by his friends the passport fiddling David Blunkett, the expense stealing Jacqui Smith and the slippery Jack Straw, Tony Blair invented more than 3,000 new criminal offences; that is one for each day he was in power.
Blair also doubled the prison population, doubled the length of sentences and, most famously – or infamously if you prefer – introduced the dreadful IPP sentence that Clarke has fought so bravely to repeal.
Were Chris Grayling and Theresa May to have the kind of money available to spend that Blair did, they would do even more damage; having supported the idea that criminals should be micro chipped, filed and catalogued, the only thing that would be missing would be the number tattooed on the offender’s wrist.
Fortunately for prisoners and the public alike, The OpinionSite.org can happily assure readers that not only is that sort of money unavailable now, it is likely to remain unavailable for many years to come.
In which case, you may ask, what is the purpose of appointing a right-wing, anti-gay, anti-libertarian to the government department responsible for the dispensation of Justice?
The answer is that although Grayling has effectively been neutered by the financial constraints he faces, he sounds good on television and radio.
In other words, although like most politicians he is dishonest in what he says, he comes across as sounding ‘tough’ and repressive; someone to keep the lower-orders in their place through threats of jail sentences and social segregation.
Someone in fact who sounds, looks and acts like a good, right-wing Conservative should in order to appeal to the ‘true blue’ (and mostly wealthy) Tories throughout the land who feel let down by talk of ‘common sense’, ‘fairness’ and ‘progress’; things they fear in Oxfordshire and the Tory heartlands, just in case people less fortunate than themselves end up getting a fair crack of the whip.
In appointing Chris Grayling, no matter how smug Mrs May might be feeling right now, Cameron has in fact, as only a stupid and truly fickle politician can, plunged a deadly blade into his own party’s persona and psyche.
The fact that the money isn’t there means that whatever Grayling’s professed intentions may be, he will never achieve them. No matter how many lies he tells, no matter how much rhetoric he comes out with at the party conference, nothing will change. Eventually, despite his lies, he will be made to look like an idiot.
Ken Clarke on the other hand is 72 years of age and has seen – and done – it all. He has held every major office of state other than that of prime minister. He was a highly successful QC, has a brilliant financial and legal mind, has an unashamed bias towards fairness and his political experience and wisdom is unequalled.
His vast experience is the reason why he has been retained in the government, albeit kept out of public sight in a cardboard box.
His only fault – from a political point of view – is that he is inclined to tell the truth, to do so in public and in a manner that the people can easily understand.
With most politicians prepared to lie through their teeth in order to get re-elected, Clarke doesn’t need to; something the likes of May and Cameron hate as they themselves continue to con the public with promises that cannot be kept and policies that fail day after day.
Clarke is also clever enough to have booby-trapped the MoJ before he left so that whatever changes Grayling wants to introduce, he will find it almost impossible to do so.
The OpinionSite.org looks forward to watching Mr Secretary of State Grayling’s slow – and probably acutely painful – demise and humiliation.
Our view is nothing personal of course. It is simply the fact that whatever people may think of him and no matter how politically unfortunate his tendency to tell the truth is, Ken Clarke was the best Secretary of State for Justice that Britain has ever had.
He will be missed by lawyers, prisoners, families and even judges. They cannot all be wrong.
Even the tabloid press may miss him as, instead of having someone to criticise for telling the truth, they will now have to make up fictitious support for a man incapable of telling anything other than a lie.
Of course, Mr Grayling could surprise us all by being honest and repeating his anti-freedom, anti-gay, anti-human rights and anti-fairness beliefs in front of the camera. However, this is unlikely now that he is unable to do so from the hidden shadows of lower government and must now actually take responsibility for what he says.
Goodbye Ken, we wish you well. You will be missed but not forgotten. The OpinionSite.org hopes that, along with us, you will have a good laugh as you watch your unworthy successor go from crisis to crisis in his attempts to con the British public over Law and Order; something that, thanks to you and your former team, is now much more difficult to do than it once was.
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