The Cabinet Ministers Hall of Fame

Christopher Dorrell 17 November 2018
Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Flikr

Karen Bradley: Northern Ireland Minister

Our journey exploring the level of talent in the current Cabinet begins in Northern Ireland who, from January this year, have had the misfortune of being represented by Karen Bradley. Her job is to represent the people of Northern Ireland in Cabinet, so naturally Theresa May made the obvious decision to put someone in that role who knew nothing about the country she would be representing. In an interview with House Magazine Bradley admitted that ‘I didn’t understand things like when elections are fought, for example, in Northern Ireland, people who are nationalists don’t vote for unionist parties and vice versa’. This pearl of wisdom would probably be found in the introduction to the idiot’s guide to Northern Ireland. I also think that if she just thought about the words for a second, that is of course assuming she knows what they mean, and applies them to a specific context, i.e. the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, would she not be able to work that out anyway. Clearly the answer is no, and yet apparently it is a sensible idea to send her off to Northern Ireland in the middle of a Brexit process whose main stumbling block is currently the border in Ireland. Her discovery of the main political division in Ireland has, she claims, allowed her to ‘start to understand some of the things that politicians say and some of the rhetoric’. Well at least it only took her 8 months to get to that stage, it’s not like there’s anything important to do in Northern Ireland anyway. I can’t stress enough that this level of ignorance has no place in parliament full stop, let alone in the person of the Cabinet Minister directly responsible for Northern Ireland. It defies belief.

Andrea Leadsom: Leader of the House of Commons

It is fortunate for Andrea Leadsom that she works in the least talented Cabinet that there has ever been. In nearly any political grouping she would win the prize of stupidity at a canter, but she has had to really push herself to keep herself in the race this time. First it is worth remembering that she was the alternative to Theresa May as Prime Minister, and to make up for her inexperience she claimed (falsely) to have been a big shot in the city. She ruled herself out of the race by making an unusually stupid comment when she claimed Theresa May cared less about the country because she did not have children and we were spared the fate of Leadsom as Prime Minister. Since then she has made a name for herself thanks to her incompetence. We can excuse her comment that Jane Austen was one of England’s ‘greatest living authors’ as just a slip of the tongue, we cannot excuse her stupidity. She was described as ‘the worst minister we ever had’ during her time as City Minister. ‘She found it difficult to understand issues or take decisions. She was monomaniacal, seeing the EU as the source of every problem. She alienated officials by continually complaining about poor drafting.’ Much of her funding has come from companies based in Guernsey, an offshore tax haven, making a mockery of the government’s claims to be fighting tax avoidance. On the anniversary of the Brexit vote Leadsom suggested that the Brexit negotiations would be made easier if journalists would be ‘a little more patriotic’ seeming to deny the press the right to investigate how the Brexit process was going. Perhaps the most worrying part is that on being appointed Secretary of State for the Environment she had to ask whether climate change was real. Fortunately, she has moved on, and fortunately most conservatives realise how far out of her depth she is.

Chris Grayling: Secretary of State for Transport

What is truly astonishing about Chris Grayling is that he has been a Cabinet Minister since 2012. That’s six years in which Grayling has been hanging around at the top of government and in that time,  one would be mistaken for thinking his mere presence in a department is enough for mistakes to be made, given the variety of areas he has disrupted. In the Justice Department he banned prisoners from receiving books, set up a training programme for prisons in Saudi Arabia (well known for respecting the human rights of their prisoners) and made it more difficult for victims of domestic abuse to receive legal aid prompting the first strike in British history by barristers and solicitors, quite an achievement considering how long the legal profession has existed in Britain. All of these measures were overturned by Michael Gove shortly after Grayling was moved. He was moved, by Theresa May, to the Transport Department, presumably in the hope that he would not be able to make too many high-profile mistakes. She was wrong. It didn’t start well for Chris when he opened the door of his ministerial car, and knocked a cyclist off their bike. But things would only get worse. First it emerged he rejected moving control of metro services run by SouthEastern to TFL because it could leave those services “in the clutches of a Labour mayor” rather than any rational explanation. The enlightenment hasn’t reached Chris Grayling yet. Then, to cap it all off, when new timetables were announced this summer. Hundreds of trains were either cancelled or delayed. On the 20th May GTR didn’t run a single train on time. Somehow, he survived the vote of confidence that followed, and for reasons beyond all comprehension Failing Grayling clings on.

Dominic Raab: Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

Dominic Raab becomes the latest entry into the government of the talentless with his insightful quip telling us that he, like many others in the Cabinet, don’t know the first thing about their department. ‘I hadn’t quite understood the full extent of this, but if you look at the UK and if you look at how we trade in goods, we are particularly reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing’. Really? Tell me more Dominic, I wasn’t aware that Britain was actually an island. Once you’ve learned that much I guess it makes sense to suggest that the closest point between us and everyone else might be a little busy. What staggers me is not so much the fact that he didn’t already know this (again surely it would have been sensible to check a prospective employee knows something about the job they’re about to do) but that he admitted that he didn’t know. I mean, talk about a statement of the obvious. It is perhaps fortunate for Raab that his job is one which, according to his predecessor, doesn’t need any one ‘very clever’ and that one doesn’t have to ‘know that much’. So really all Raab has done is modify the job description slightly to someone who doesn’t know anything. But it seems Raab was incapable of even fulfilling that most basic of functions. He resigned because he couldn’t support the deal he was responsible for negotiating.