It’s fair to say that we’re not exactly blessed with a highly capable government right now. The very idea of a meritocracy exists only as a fanciful pipe dream, so beaten down we’ve become by the soul eroding pantomime of spectacular incompetence playing out before us on a daily basis.
In whichever direction you care to cast a cursory glance, you’ll find yourself bearing witness to some manner of miserable failure. A Defence Secretary attempting to flex his masculinity in front of an autocratic murderer by telling him to “shut up and go away”, before finding himself soundly thrashed by Richard Madeley? Standard. A Brexit Secretary barely turning up to negotiate Brexit prior to his resignation, inexplicably on grounds of supposed honour? Par for the course. A Foreign Secretary who can’t even remember the nationality of his own wife? All part of a day’s work when you’re a highly paid, government minister.
However, amidst the cavalcade of calamity bumbling its way through the halls of Westminster, a place in which being an unrelenting dolt is apparently a precondition for entry, there is one man who stands alone.
A man comprised of such an unfathomable level of inadequacy, that his terminal aversion to success has transcended the limits of our little island and gained him fame across the globe.
That man is Chris Grayling.
Yes, the laughable legend of ‘Failing Grayling’ has gone stateside, with American onlookers finding themselves just as baffled as we are as to the apparently impervious nature of this pitiful minister’s continued employment – and they’ve got Donald Trump as their President.
The excruciating exploits of Mr Grayling are preposterous to the degree that they would be rejected out of hand for inclusion in a political satire, solely on the basis of breaking suspension of disbelief. It is indeed a career to send shudders down the spine; a catalogue of unbridled disaster in which Grayling lurches from one lucratively salaried role to the next, leaving a trail of catastrophe in his wake as he seeks out the next departmental responsibility to subvert beyond comprehension. A King Midas of the faecal variety, if you will.
Of course, being terrible at your job isn’t exactly an unusual trait in the cabinet, Boris Johnson stands as obvious testament to that – but it’s the frequency in which he blunders that sets Grayling apart; stumbling into his next inglorious pratfall before you’ve even had chance to process the previous misadventure.
One moment Gatwick airport is brought to a standstill by a drone which may not have even existed. While you’re still reeling in confusion, attempting to get your head around such a risible mishap, the intrepid Transport Secretary is elsewhere, eagerly signing a ferry contract with a freight company who don’t have any ferries. You’d think that in of itself would be grounds for having a P45 rammed down his throat but don’t be too hasty – the attempts to secure post Brexit supply lines were botched to such a degree that the government was forced to pay out £33 million to prevent a scorned, would be applicant from mounting a legal case.
Quite understandably, many are wondering Theresa May persists with the feckless dullard – it can’t be especially gratifying to the ego having to reaffirm your confidence in a hapless instigator of political doom every other week; so just why does she stand by this lamentable bastion of ruination?
Many have speculated that it’s down to his Brexiteer leanings, with the suggestion that binning the bumbler would only serve to poison the well further in her dealings with the ERG. There’s even been the suggestion that, during his former career in the media, he obtained sufficient dirt on his superiors, subsequently making him untouchable.
In truth however, I suspect the explanation is rather more simple.
Theresa May needs a diversionary stooge.
There’s mere days left until Brexit yet, in terms of preparation, we’re still meandering aimlessly around the same point we started at nearly three years ago. Time is slipping away and, as the Tory party continues to feverishly gorge upon its own innards, May’s only plan of action seems to involve having her wretched deal rejected in perpetuity until the last flicker of life in the known universe finally subsides.
Yet, thanks to Chris Grayling, there’s at least a tiny window of opportunity to spin a narrative in which the Tory’s ability to be indescribably abysmal is actually all down to one man – however implausible such a scenario may be.
It makes perfect sense from this perspective. If you’re unable to achieve a victory at least shield yourself best you can from the ignominy of inevitable defeat, salvaging whatever dignity you can along the way.
Dignity is clearly a concept Chris Grayling abandoned long ago, perfectly willing to continue in his role of inadvertently orchestrating Armageddon everytime he breathes in oxygen – thus making him a perfectly pliant patsy for May and her cronies to throw out to the wolves every time they get too close for comfort.
Grayling will never provide any moments of insight, gumption or even simple competence, all the while ensuring the government continues to haemorrhage money until they’re finally booted out of office but, in today’s Britain where political aspiration has become indistinguishable from callous self interest, I don’t suspect Theresa May especially cares.
After all, it’s all about survival for Theresa – and when the shit hits the fan, she’ll be grateful to cower behind an idiot who didn’t have the foresight to move.Follow @grahamlithgow