SUDANESE doctors warned today that “new trends of violence” are emerging in the crackdown on protests by the tyrannical Omar al-Bashir regime — inc

The government knew the troubles the CRCs were in. Ministers knew that their pet project was falling apart at the seams.

His appearance in Newcastle followed a rally at the Tyne Theatre & Opera House in the city by the Grassroots Go campaign.

I share Owen Jones’s view of Grayling’s staggering incompetence (How on earth is Chris Grayling still a cabinet minister?, 3 January). Similarly I am sadly not surprised that he keeps a job in what has become a shambolic government. In any other government it would have been truly amazing that he was put in charge of transport, particularly given his spectacular failures as minister of justice.

In a newspaper column earlier this month, Mr Duncan Smith wrote: “The acrimonious manner in which all this has been conducted is troubling and will I fear have consequences beyond June 23.”

The Tories don’t bother with that now. They simply leave everything until MPs are in demob mood, packing their buckets and spades, before whispering: “Oh, by the way …”

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And just as the rail regulator gives the seal of approval to every madcap privatisation proposal, chief probation inspector Glenys Stacey does likewise.

Johnson told Labour MPs Laura Smith and Kate Hoey that SWR had “exploited” a clause in its franchising agreement to bring this about.

Mr Grayling added: “On the jobs front, I don’t agree with him. I believe it will create jobs in the UK by getting rid of unnecessary regulation and at the same time forging new trade agreements with countries around the world.”

Even former home secretary Amber Rudd – who was swiftly reinstated to the cabinet – was forced to resign over misleading MPs, rather than the substance of the Windrush scandal, which deprived British citizens of healthcare, left them homeless, or even deported them. In this context, that Grayling continues to be paid £141,000 a year is a sign not only of shambolic government, but of national and political decline too.

It appears that cabinet ministers can make catastrophic mistakes and still be given power to make more. This government’s policies usually involve giving shed loads of money to private firms who are ill-equipped to deliver and end up costing more to the public purse and causing damage to the communities Tory MPs claim to serve.
Jan Clare

The unjustifiable train fare hike is the latest reason why he should resign as transport secretary, but still he staggers on

And just as the rail regulator gives the seal of approval to every madcap privatisation proposal, chief probation inspector Glenys Stacey does likewise.

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In 2016, a leaked letter found that Grayling opposed devolving control of suburban rail to London’s elected authorities for partisan reasons: he wanted to keep it “out of the clutches” of a Labour mayor. Even a former Conservative vice-chair declared no confidence in him after that. Both Crossrail and HS2 have been beset by disastrous delays and budget overruns, but while chairman Terry Morgan bit the bullet, Grayling remains in place.

“For me, they’re not. They never are. Because there’s nothing more important that protecting people’s financial security.”

The Tory Cabinet member is the latest high profile figure to visit the region as the referendum campaign hots up before the June 23 vote.

Owen Jones is a Guardian columnist

Consider Grayling’s wider record. Train punctuality has sunk to a 13-year low, while rail fares have again been raised in an era in which British workers have suffered the worst stagnation in wages since the Napoleonic wars. During the disruption last year, in which up to 200 Govia Thameslink services a day were being cancelled, Grayling defended himself as not a “specialist in rail matters”. According to an interim report from the Office of Road and Rail, “nobody took charge”. As a bare minimum, he should have stripped Govia Thameslink of its franchise, but instead the company was merely required to spend more on passenger improvements.

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It seems a lifetime ago that a junior official in the Department for Transport could be sacked for suggesting that bad news be slipped out when everyone was obsessed with a huge event.

Disaster Chris Grayling

Whatever the truth behind the Gatwick drone which wrecked so many people’s Christmases, we know that Grayling stopped plans to regulate the use of drones and failed to heed warnings of the disruption they might cause at airports. And while he absurdly suggested that buses could soon be replaced by Uber-style services, cuts of 45% have been made to supported bus routes since 2010 and fares raised at rates beyond inflation. To have such a dismal record and still manage to spend £300m more than his department’s annual budget is almost impressive.

Just as train-operating companies that have taken easy profits in the early years of franchises before handing back the keys when major contributions should be paid to the Exchequer, Gauke has agreed to pull the plug two years early on eight community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) at the heart of the government’s part-privatisation of the probation service.

Scottish and Welsh operators have done deals with RMT for all services to have a guard to complement driver duties, but the Westminster government has cajoled/strong-armed franchises in England to take an uncompromising stance.

While the group wants to leave the European Union, a recent poll showed 63% of their peers in the business community belonging to the North East Chamber of Commerce do not.

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Never let it be said that nothing ever changes in politics.  In fact, with the announcement on court charges yesterday it seems we are uncovering a new law of politics – whatever policy Chris Grayling enacted as Secretary of State will, inevitably, be repealed by a colleague clearing up his mess at a later date.

In October the Government were quite exceptionally defeated in the Lords on a motion condemning the mandatory court charges that were introduced by Chris Grayling, who is now Leader of the House, when he was the Justice Secretary. After only 8 months in post, the new Justice Secretary Michael Gove has yesterday announced he’ll be scrapping the charges.

This U-turn is warmly welcomed by everyone who actually wants to see justice.  One magistrate wrote to me to say that because of these mandatory charges, many innocent people in his courts were pleading guilty.  He says that he recently had to impose—he had to, because it is mandatory on the magistrates—the court charge of £150 on a homeless man who had stolen a £1.90 sandwich from Sainsbury’s. That is not the rule of law; it is cruel injustice.  And our papers and comment pages have been overflowing with similar stories for months: the reversal by Michael Gove is not just welcome, it’s overdue.

But it adds to a long list of changes the new Justice Secretary has had to overturn because of the failures of the Leader of the House in his old job.  There was the petty and vindictive ban on friends and relatives sending books to prisoners which even the most ardent believers in punishment rather than rehabilitation thought went too far.  You might also remember the plan to build jails and execution centres for the regime in Saudi Arabia, a country whose justice system routinely crucifies, beheads, and lashes – a regime that execute journalists.  Last but not least we had the U-turn over the botched plans for an ill-conceived vanity project for a modern day borstal, a Secure College that cost taxpayers £6 million before it was scrapped.

Since taking over the Ministry of Justice from his spectacularly incompetent predecessor, Gove has spent much of his time trying to fix the omnishambles that is Chris Grayling’s legacy at the MoJ.  The Leader of the House is to be completely airbrushed from history it seems, and there’s few in even his own party who seek to stop this process or defend his legacy.  One has to wonder how long the complex and incomprehensible veto known as “English votes for English laws” will survive once the Leader of the House is gone. 

But all this does actually matter.  It’s not just knockabout politics for critics of Grayling to rejoice in his incompetence, it marks a second failure of judgement from the Prime Minster to again reward the complete incompetence of a Cabinet Minister by moving them to Leader of the House.  For let us not forget that newly ennobled Lord Lansley was Andrew Lansley the Health Secretary whose top-down changes to the NHS were so ill-conceived and disliked by the medical community they had to be subject to an unprecedented ‘pause’ in the legislation.

Yet after seeing such incompetence the Prime Minister moved him to Leader of the House; with Grayling following it seems that the PM likes to use the position to gently put cabinet failures out to pasture.  After the junior doctors’ fiasco, perhaps the bookies would like to start reducing odds on Jeremy Hunt to be the next Leader of the House. Lansley lasted one year, ten months and ten days in the job. Assuming that Grayling staggers on for the same amount of time, he’ll be gone on the 18th of March 2017.   I’ve already set a reminder in my diary to send a letter of congratulation to Mr Hunt.

Gove occupation with u-turning has a direct impact on our services and on our politics.  On the Tories’ watch the prison system is in crisis. The latest annual report from the Chief Inspector of Prisons reported overcrowding, staff shortages and rising levels of violence, warning that the situation was unsustainable.  As he said in his report: “The outcomes we reported on in 2014/15 were the worst for 10 years. Too many of the prisons were places of violence, squalor and idleness. That is bad for prisoners, bad for staff and bad for the communities into which these prisoners are going to be returned.”  The new Justice Secretary should be giving this his full focus, but instead he’s having to clean up after the incompetence and wrong-headedness of his predecessor. 

It’s often said that all political careers end in failure, it just seems that Grayling’s seems to failing before it has ended.