The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Chris Grayling & The Peter Principle

Posted by The Futility Monster on April 5, 2010 @ 09:36

There's only room in the Shadow Cabinet for one bald guy, and that quota was reached with William Hague

The fuss over Chris Grayling’s off message comments regarding homosexuality and the potential refusal of goods/services is rather interesting to me for two reasons reasons: the man himself, and what it says about the party.

The latter point is rather simple. One cannot help but feel that what Mr Grayling said has deep resonance within the heart of the Conservative Party. I’ve no doubt at all that that Tory core vote agrees fundamentally with what he said. In that respect, he is more in tune with the Party than his leadership.

However, this issue was settled back in 2007. I can’t find now whether the Tories made any Parliamentary moves against it, but one assumes by the tone of the coverage over the past few days that they didn’t. I guess it was all part of Cameron’s plan to make themselves look a little less like “the nasty Party”. One of these issues that the leadership sweeps under the rug on pain of death, hoping that once it’s gone away no one will even remember the difficult situation it caused at the time.

It worked, of course. Actions such as that have meant that the Tory brand has been detoxified in the eyes of most floating voters. And since Cameron’s plan has indeed delivered Tory success, and a sure fire victory at the election, the Party have tolerated it.

All parties do such things. They have to to stick together. There’s always give and take. That Cameron managed to make the Tories more socially liberal on an issue like this is to be applauded, but let’s be under no illusion, the Grayling faux pas proves that appearances can be deceptive. Skin deep, indeed.

Meanwhile, Chris Grayling has never struck me as a good example of what the Conservatives should be promoting. His rise to the Shadow Cabinet has been stellar, perhaps advanced by David Davis’ bizarre resignation, but this little incident clearly proves why they might have paused before backing him.

He’s always been known as an “attack dog”. As a back-bencher and shadow junior minister, he was always available for rent-a-quote, and biting quips about the opposition. Perfect to be unleashed from time to time, in controlled doses.

But his appearance, his demeanour, his lack of charisma, and gaffe-prone nature seemed to be overlooked. Someone in High Command obviously thought he was doing well enough to keep promoting him, again and again, until he reached Shadow Home Secretary. You can’t get much higher in opposition. The doses were no longer controlled.

Last night on Sky News it was amusing to hear Shane Greer, of Total Politics magazine, talking in such a negative way about a former star. It’s clear that Grayling had already peaked, even before this incident. A minor ministerial position will be all he’s afforded, and if he makes a hash of it, the door will be shown.

Grayling is yet another example of The Peter Principle in action. Buyer’s remorse has now clearly set in.

Politics is a brutal and cruel business.

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One Response to “Chris Grayling & The Peter Principle”

  1. Richard T said

    As I recall, part of the faustian bargain with the Murdoch empire was that Dominic Grieve was shunted from Shadow Home Secretary to the shadow justice brief and Chris Grayling was brought in to appease the Sun for the reasons you cite above. It’s a bit of a boomerang isn’t it – going for the Sun vote and losing the gays.

    It would, in Oscar Wilde’s words, take a heart of stone not to laugh.

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