Tag Archives: chris grayling

European Arrest Warrant: I’m a sceptic (but not a Eurosceptic)

As I write, the House of Commons is debating the European Arrest Warrant (EAW).

Well, sort of. In fact, the Speaker, John Bercow, has already pointed out that “there will not today be a vote on the specific matter of membership of the European arrest warrant”. But Home Secretary Theresa May and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling say there will. In the Tories’ Alice in Wonderland world, when they use the word vote it means just what they choose it to mean, neither more nor less.

As with any debate involving Europe, there is a danger of it being used as …

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Opinion: Why I am against Grayling over Criminal Legal Aid

As a candidate for the European Parliament my focus is on EU-related issues: trade, climate change and cross-border crime. But some national issues are, in my view, so pressing that I cannot ignore them.  Among these are Chris Grayling’s proposed cuts to criminal legal aid, so severe they threaten whether defendants will have proper representation at all.

On 6 January, I was in Oxford to support a protest against these cuts.  Concurrent protests happened at courts all over England & Wales. The campaign aims to raise public awareness and persuade parliament to say ‘no’ to Grayling, as Parliament did over Price …

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Opinion: The Justice Secretary has got it wrong on privatisation of probation services

Why do governments always assume that they will save money by privatising the public sector?  The Probation Service is now in Chris Grayling’s sights with his plan to hive off low risk offenders to charities and private enterprise leaving the rump Probation Service to concentrate on high risk offenders.

High risk offenders are the sex offenders, domestic violence perpetrators and offenders on indeterminate sentences whose risk prior to release from custody is subject to constant review. As a former probation officer this was my bread and butter work – and incredibly stressful it was too.

I understand that under the Coalition …

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Mandatory work: if we believe in evidence-based policy it’s probably best to pay attention to the evidence

Four months ago, when the political row over ‘workfare’ was at its peak, I wrote here on LibDemVoice that liberals needed to progress the debate beyond ‘the simple and simplistic ‘left/right’ attitudes currently on display, and start grappling with how best we can empower the individual to make the best of their own lives — including, and especially, those who appear to have settled for a life on benefits, and reject all other offers of help.’

Avoiding dogma, embracing evidence

Key to this, I suggested, would be avoiding the dogmatic approaches of the Tories — who appear to believe that every …

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Opinion: Political reasons for people to back the ESA motion‏

If any of you are wondering how we can improve our situation in the polls then I’ve got a suggestion for you: back the Liberal Youth sponsored ESA Motion.

Now there are all sorts of compassionate, liberal and financial reasons to back this motion. The current system is unfair, inhumane, inaccurate and expensive. But, putting all that to one side for a moment, there are sound political reasons to back it.

At the moment the treatment of people with long term illnesses and disabilities is appalling. The media are starting to wake up to the issue, the government is facing a …

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Yet another reason why gay voters are deserting the Tories for the Lib Dems

The Tories seem to be doing their best to lose the vote of gay people. Last month it was shadow Tory home secretary Chris Grayling who landed himself and his party in trouble by defending the rights of bed-and-breakfast owners to discriminate against gay couples. Then the party’s shadow defence minister Julian Lewis alleged that equalising the age of consent had increased the risk of HIV infection.

And now the Tories have had to suspend one of their would-be MPs for describing gay people as “not normal”. The BBC reports:

Tory election candidate Philip Lardner has been suspended for describing gay people on his website as “not normal”, the party has confirmed. … The primary school teacher’s name will remain on ballot papers because it is too late to remove his nomination. He will still be listed as a Conservative candidate, although a party spokeswoman said they had made clear they no longer supported him. Mr Lardner had been reinstated to the party in 2008 after a previous suspension over claims he made racist comments by portraying former leader of white-rule Rhodesia, Ian Smith, as a hero. On that occasion, Mr Lardner did not deny making the comments but suggested they had been taken out of context.

His latest suspension was provoked by comments in the “What I believe in” section of his website, under the sub-heading: “Homosexuality is not ‘normal behaviour’.” The former Territorial Army soldier wrote of his support for the controversial “clause 28″, which was introduced by the Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher and banned public bodies from promoting homosexuality.

This latest example of backwards Tory thinking perhaps helps explain the collapse in the party’s support among gay voters, with the Lib Dems the overwhelming choice of 58%. Pink News reports:

A group of 911 LGBT people, weighted demographically and geographically have been informing PinkNews.co.uk of their voting intentions since March 2010 as well as their votes in the 2005 general election. Support for the Conservative Party has fallen from 17% in 2005 to 9% today. Labour support has dropped from 29% in 2005 and in the 2009 poll to 21% today. Liberal Democrat support has increased from 20% to 58%. The Green Party have dropped from 10% in 2005 to 8% today.

Oh, and here’s another reason why gay voters might doubt the resolve of the Tory party in advancing gay equality – here’s a stumbling and mumbling David Cameron defending his party’s record in an interview for Gay Times recently:

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Daily View 2×2: 6 April 2010 – they’re off!

Good morning and welcome to Daily View on this, the first day of the General Election.

As if we hadn’t all been at war footing for weeks anyway.

In history on April 6th, in 1869 celluloid was first patented, paving the way for commercial photography and cinematography. Every Youtube video you watch during the campaign will be thanks to the technology and techniques first pioneered on celluloid over 100 years ago.

On this day in 1895, Oscar Wilde was arrested for attempting to book into Chris Grayling’s B&B; in 1896, the first modern Olympic Games is held. It’s the day in 1917 when the United States declared war on Germany and the day in 1930 when Ghandi began the Salt Satyagraha which ultimately led to independence for India.

Today Rory Bremner turns 49 and Mylene Klaas turns 32 – my age.

2 Big Stories

Gordon Brown triggers general election

Most helpfully, the fact that Gordon Brown was planning to head off to see her Maj today to dissolve Parliament and trigger a general election was leaked to all the papers far enough in advance that they could run stories today, and not have to play catchup tomorrow.

Here’s the Guardian, who have also been leaked enough snippets of manifesto to get their clothespeg ready:

A draft of the manifesto seen by the Guardian pledges that an unprecedented fourth-term Labour government would be “bolder about the role of state intervention in markets” and deliver sweeping constitutional change. Failing police forces could be taken over by their neighbours under one radical proposal.

You’d have thought they wouldn’t want to mention the fact that there are any failing police forces after 13 years of glorious Labour rule. Or that any further constitutional change was necessary.

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Watchdog says Shadow Home Secretary ‘likely to damage’ trust in statistics

Yesterday I wrote about Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling’s extraordinarily twisted use of statistics to try to justify part of the Conservatives’ ‘Broken Britain’ narrative.

Today the BBC’s Mark Easton, who broke the original story, has the news that Chris Grayling has just been sent a sharp letter from Parliament’s statistics watchdog, informing him that his mis-use of statistics about violent crime is ‘likely to damage public trust in official statistics’. The Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA), Sir Michael Scholar, says he does ‘not wish to become involved in political controversy’,  but ‘must take issue’ with Grayling’s comments ‘yesterday about violent crime statistics’.

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Conservatives’ use of crime statistics ‘selective and mendacious’

This morning’s Today programme provided another of those ‘mustn’t miss’ moments, as presenter Evan Davis  took the Conservatives’ Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling to task over the party’s misleading use of crime statistics.

Last week Mark Easton, the BBC’s Home Affairs editor, had asked ‘Are the Tories being honest with their claims on violent crime’:

Last week, David Cameron told me that one reason he could justify the phrase “broken society” was because of “significant” increases in violent crime, notably gun and knife crime in Britain.  When I challenged him to produce the evidence, his party press office sent the BBC a list of statistics. It emerges that the only way the Conservative leader can back up his claims is to ignore the klaxon warning attached to the statistics following changes in the way police record violent incidents in England and Wales.

Tory Central Office e-mailed this claim to me: ‘Violent crime has increased from 615,985 offences in 1998-9 to 1,034,972 in 2008-9, an increase of 68 per cent’. The document cited, however, includes this massive caveat: ‘The National Crime Recording standard was introduced in April 2002. Figures before and after that date are not directly comparable’. And yet, that is exactly what Mr Cameron appears to do.

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Conservative policy making informed by TV detective series

Today’s FT has an interview with wannabe Chancellor George Osborne, where he once again fails to give any real details of the Conservatives’ economic plans, should they win the next election. Osborne talks about his admiration for Sweden, although he is unable to put his finger on exactly why, saying:

“I’m no expert on Swedish society but I am a regular viewer now of Wallander”.

What next: Chris Grayling telling the Daily Mail that he is changing the Conservatives’ policies on drugs after catching up with a few episodes of Van der Valk?

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One-third of Cameron’s shadow cabinet opposed to gay rights

Nick Clegg made some waves this week by calling for full gay equality, and challenging the Tories and their leader David Cameron to follow his example. Well, now Lib Dem research has shown what an uphill battle the Tory leader will have on his hand even convincing his own shadow cabinet to back such moves – let alone his even more right-wing backbenchers – as The Guardian reports:

Nearly a third of David Cameron’s shadow cabinet voted against gay rights legislation at some point over the last two parliaments, demonstrating their “shameful” record in tackling discrimination, according to the

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What the papers say…

Civil  servants are as bad as bankers … The Telegraph trumpets Gladstone’s anniversary … Tories support Labour’s school Sats Tests … Another dodgy Tory donor exposed … Labour split on voting reform … Lords skim expenses cream … BBC to make film on Thorpe tragedy … what Chris Huhne thinks of Prince Charles … Unions sit on money for Labour … look at who says Hauge is Vauge …and the only thing the final polls of the year can agree upon is that Liberal Democrat support is holding up

Now Civil Servants join bankers in ludicrous bonuses – Daily Mail,, 24.12.09

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Iain Dale for Home Secretary?

If we have to have a Cameron government, then I would much prefer an Iain Dale or a Dominic Grieve as Home Secretary than Chris Grayling. (All are, naturally, a disappointment compared to Home Secretary Huhne under PM Clegg!)

Yet I fear Iain’s chances of getting the job are only slightly worse than Dominic Grieve’s (as the Murdoch press is rumoured to have insisted Grieve was moved from his shadow Home Office role).

Writing about his visit to the Arts Alliance Music in Prisons fringe at the Tory conference, Dale notes that politicians are tough on crime when …

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Julia Goldsworthy condemns Grayling’s ‘The Wire’ comparison

In the absence of much real political news, Tory shadow home secretary Chris Grayling’s rather bumbling attempt to drink the kool-ade – by referencing cult US crime TV show ‘The Wire’ in a speech echoing his party’s tired ‘Broken Britain’ theme – has backfired.

As The Indpendent caustically notes today, not only has Mr Grayling shown himself to be guilty of ludicrous hyperbole, but he’s also been forced to admit his Wire knowledge is a little on the scant side:

… his comments are not backed up by facts. With 234 murders in 2008 Baltimore had nearly twice the number of London, despite having less than one tenth of the population. In fact the chance of being murdered in Baltimore, a city with a population of about 650,000, is one in 2,700. In Britain the chances are one in 85,000.

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The thing David Cameron wants you to forget when watching his election broadcast

Today’s election broadcast from the Conservatives simply features David Cameron talking to camera about MPs and their expense claims. The message is meant to be about him facing up to the problems and talking frankly about them.

But listen to his language:

I want to start by saying sorry … sorry for the actions of some Conservative MPs…

principle of thrift should apply to Conservative MPs too. So from now on I want them to claim what is reasonable to do their job…

Members of my Shadow Cabinet, including Michael Gove, Oliver Letwin and Andrew Lansley, have agreed to pay back money…

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Quick’s marching orders: too harsh, or just right?

Bob Quick, “Britain’s most senior anti-terrorism officer” as he’s known to every paper, has resigned after he was photographed yesterday outside Number 10 holding an outline briefing on an on-going counter-terrorism operation inadvertently exposing the names of several senior officers, locations and details about the nature of the overseas threat.

It prompts two questions in my mind.

First, are we holding public figures in senior office to the right standard?

No-one is suggesting Bob Quick deliberately leaked the briefing. Clearly he’d just been reading it in the car in preparation for a meeting, and didn’t think to put it back in …

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Chris Grayling – should I have defended him?

Voicers may recall that back in February I raised a sardonic eyebrow at the outrage surrounding Chris Grayling’s immolation at the hands of the Mirror.

The issue at stake was his second home allowance, when his constituency (my home town of Epsom and Ewell) is only 17 miles from Westminster. Not so fast, said I!:

“Only” 17 miles, eh? Ever tried negotiating it on the train? Oh, but of course not. You all live in Islington, don’t you.

One of my favourite pet facts to come out of the Policy Exchange report Cities Unlimited was that

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Viewing MPs’ travel expenses on a map

There’s a nifty little Google Map at http://ouseful.open.ac.uk/maps/mpTravelExpensesMap.html which is a great example of how you can use maps to make statistics clearer. In this case, the big issue is that MPs do have genuinely different legitimate travel needs depending on where they live. It’s only reasonable for an MP from Scotland to have much higher travel expenses than one who lives in London, for example.

Putting the sums on a map helps show the patterns which are reasonable. And it also highlights those which are a bit more surprising, such as the previously mentioned Margaret Moran, Labour MP …

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In defence of Chris Grayling

No, not his views on policing. His expenses. Obviously, I’m far from Grayling’s biggest fan, but it’s the tabloids’ insistent foaming that gives one pause for thought. “If you thought Jacqui Smith was bad,” they have screamed for the last few mornings, “Look at THIS! With EXTRA ADDED OUTRAGE!” The latest “expose” from the Mirror is hopefully titled:

Fury as three more MPs rake in cash for second homes – Exclusive

The “exclusive” element appears to be the work experience kid looking up the addresses of various Tory and Labour MPs and measuring their distance from Westminster on Google Maps, then pinging off a couple of emails to the Land Registry. All the President’s Men this is not.

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Has Chris Grayling put his foot in it?

The new Conservative Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling gave a speech today in which he said,

Labour has had eleven years and they have collectively failed – their musical chairs based system of home secretaries has left Britain a more dangerous, less civilised place to live in.

Now that’s odd. Not only because, as Hopi Sen points out, “Chris Grayling is the third Shadow Home Secretary in the last year” but also because on my calculation, the average term of office of a Labour Home Secretary since 1997 (excluding Jacqui Smith, as she is still in post) has been slightly higher …

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Conservative MP Chris Grayling under fire for his expense claims

The Sunday Mirror is highlighting Conservative MP Chris Grayling’s expense claims for his flat near Parliament:

Top Tory Chris Grayling has claimed £104,183 of taxpayers’ money over six years for a London flat – even though he has a family home just 17 miles away from Westminster.

And neighbours of the Shadow Home Secretary say they “rarely, if ever” see him at the Westminster flat where his postbox is packed with unopened mail.

On the eve of becoming an MP in June 2001, Mr Grayling, 46, paid £127,000 for the one-bedroom flat in a six-storey block, which has views of Westminster Cathedral and is

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Are there more ex-SDP members on the Tory front-bench than the Lib Dem front-bench?

Danny Finkelstein asks the question over at The Times’s Comment Central here. Scores on the doors (allegedly) so far show it to be a draw…

Tory shadow cabinet ex-SDPers: Greg Clark, Chris Grayling, Andrew Lansley and David Mundell.
Lib Dem shadow cabinet ex-SDPers: Vince Cable, Chris Huhne, Tom McNally and Paul Burstow

Or can LDV readers point out more…?

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BBC Question Time (15/1/09): open thread

A new year at Westminster, and the BBC’s Question Time is back (BBC1 and online, 10.35 pm GMT) – and so is the weekly LDV open thread. If you’re tuning in to watch, remember: don’t get angry, get commenting.

Lib Dem peer Baroness (Jenny) Tonge is the party’s representative… once again: I have quite a lot of time for Jenny, but, really, QT’s producers are getting boringly predictable in their bookings. Doubtless Baroness Shirl will be on their roster for this series, too. So, please, BBC: try a bit of fresh thinking.

Anyway, Jenny will be appearing alongside Tory-turned-Labour MP and …

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The most chaotic policy announcement of the week: David Cameron on pensions

David Cameron, quoted in the Financial Times on Wednesday: “My vision over time is to move increasingly towards defined contribution rather than final salary schemes “.

Chris Grayling, his pensions spokesman on Thursday: “That is not a decision we have taken. That is not a decision we have even discussed.”

Oops.

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Tory Chris Grayling misleads the public – Sunday Mirror

From the Sunday Mirror:

One of David Cameron’s Shadow Cabinet has been exposed for misleading the public after suggesting his London base is a leaky ex-council flat with faulty wiring.

In fact Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Chris Grayling is a wealthy landlord with FOUR homes worth at least £2million…

Mr Grayling said : “I have an old council flat near Victoria Station. The bathroom used to leak and the wiring in the kitchen once gave me an electric shock. There’s an image that people in the Shadow Cabinet all come from the same background, which isn’t true.”

In reality, Mr Grayling is

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BBC Question Time: open thread

Julia Goldsworthy, the Lib Dem shadow secretary of state for communities and local government, is one of the panellists on tonight’s Question Time (broadcast on BBC1 and online from 10.35 pm GMT).

She’ll be alongside the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Andy Burnham, the Conservative shadow secretary of State for work and pensions Chris Grayling, the director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti and entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne from BBC Two’s Dragons’ Den.

Damn the BBC… just days after I cynically queried whether Auntie would ever put up a liberal commentator alongside a Lib Dem MP they do precisely that. And …

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Tories launch consumer information website

Chris Grayling has just announced http://www.howgreenisyourcar.co.uk/

It looks very swanky, but is as useful as a chocolate teapot to people with disabilities as it completely ignores accessibility standards.

Posted in Online politics | 13 Comments
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