On my 63rd birthday I’m not ready to ease up – no matter how hard it is to be positive about politics
I know it’s unfashionable, but I rather miss Chris Grayling. Not just because he was always good value to sketch, but also because there was an integrity in his commitment to never finding a job he couldn’t do badly. In a way, he was a symbol of simpler times when incompetence hadn’t been entirely shrouded in duplicity at government level. Having warmed up by undermining the justice system with a disastrous part-privatisation of the probation service, Grayling then set to work at the transport department, where his crowning glory was to award a ferry contract to a company that had no ferries. During his time in office, it is estimated that Grayling cost the country more than £3bn. If we had been paying him to do nothing, we’d all have been better off. Since Grayling was removed from government, I have been looking for someone to replace him and may just have found my man. Step forward James “The Dud” Duddridge, a junior minister in the Brexit department who, like Grayling, appears to have been chosen for his hopelessness. Over the past week, he has twice been sent out to answer tricky urgent questions that more senior ministers wanted to avoid, and on both occasions he has had a disastrous time at the dispatch box. The best reasons he could give for the government failing to publish the full 44-page legal text of the new Brexit proposals was that it might confuse MPs if they knew what they were being asked to vote on and, besides, if he hadn’t been allowed to read them he couldn’t see why anyone else should. A star is born.
Read more: theguardian.com