Monday 6 March 2023

Sue Gray: more trouble than she's worth

The old troublemaker
We should probably get this in quick before Kier Starmer retreats behind procedure and un-invites Sue Gray to be his chief of staff, a contingency that must be on the cards given the very weak ground they are both on.  At best, the precedent is that she'll need to wait a year before taking up the appointment, which pretty much sanitizes her usefulness for the GE.  At worst, the move will be ruled against.

What's the attraction?  Maybe her reputation as a sea-green incorruptible?  Hmmm.  She puts me in mind of Alexander Solzhenitsyn - best admired at a distance.  He was a troublemaker in Russia; and he wasn't about to change his spots when he was expelled from the same and lived in the west.  

Sue Gray will either cause trouble for Starmer now, or (if she makes it aboard his ship) when in post.  Probably seemed like a clever idea at the time: but a bad decision.



Anonymous said...

I am amazed at Starmer's lack of political nous in appointing Sue Gray as his chief of staff. Partygate is a major avenue of attack for Labour against the Tories. Appointing the head of the investigation to a senior position in the Labour party will allow the Tories to paint the whole investigation as just a Labour stitch up. If Sue Gray had been left in place then Labour could have claimed the investigation was impartial.

Sobers said...

A very odd decision by Starmer. A real own goal, completely against the run of play. At this stage in the game all he has to do is play safe and the whole lot drops into his lap. Maybe he figures he's so far ahead in the game that he can afford to ship an own goal or two and still win by a country mile, so having her on board as he enters government will be worth the fallout now.

decnine said...

Let me be clear. Starmer is channelling his inner Baldrick.

Anonymous said...

Solzhenitsyn's criticisms of American culture were pretty spot-on, to be fair. He has been a prophet without honour in not one country, but two.

If humanism were right in declaring that man is born only to be happy, he would not be born to die. Since his body is doomed to die, his task on earth evidently must be of a more spiritual nature. It cannot be unrestrained enjoyment of everyday life. It cannot be the search for the best ways to obtain material goods and then cheerfully get the most of them. It has to be the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one's life journey may become an experience of moral growth, so that one may leave life a better human being than one started it. .... It is not possible that assessment of the President's performance be reduced to the question how much money one makes or of unlimited availability of gasoline. Only voluntary, inspired self-restraint can raise man above the world stream of materialism.

Paradoxically enough his formulae are now being used to justify our ongoing impoverishment in the name of "helping Ukraine". Our increased energy costs are almost entirely due to our political decisions. The best way the UK could have helped Ukraine would have been to publicly announce in 2007 that we would veto their accession to NATO**. We're helping them to be depopulated, that's all.

** which would probably have led to economic sanctions by the US that would have been a lot more successful than the Russia sanctions have been...

Anonymous said...

His speech about the Vendee is worth a read, preferably after you've read up on an episode of the French Revolution that didn't make my school history books. It was the first industrial genocide, carried out by the representatives of "the people" who truly thought they were creating a brave new world.

Bill Quango MP said...

The best way the UK could have helped Ukraine would have been to publicly announce in 2007 that we would veto their accession to NATO**


To have granted them immediate membership.

Anonymous said...

BQ - it depends on how sanguine you are about WW3, I guess. I live upwind from GCHQ and retail potassium iodide is hard to get hold of.

jim said...

Verrrry interesting. For a bit of depth, David Allen Green has a good piece on this and so does Stephen Bush (FT). The pros and cons well chewed over. Both a bit left leaning so they think the pong over Labour will die but the pong over Johnson will not. And the more you stamp on a turd the bigger it gets. Meanwhile Rees-Mogg seems a bit exercised, but WTF.

Meanwhile it is interesting to watch those who would resurrect Boris cough a bit. Hard to kick up a stink about Gray when the very word reminds us that Boris is a party animal with the CCTV to prove it. Meanwhile Ms Gray knows where the bodies are buried and will only have to stand in the corner max 3 to 6 months (if that).

We shall have to see how Ms Gray (a bit serious but knows her trade), Mr Starmer (a bit wooden) and Ms Rayner (of ginger growler fame) get on after a few G&Ts.

andrew said...

Jim has it.

It works in the short term.
Every time you see or hear of Ms Grey you will think of Boris partying at a works do that included no social distancing, plenty of booze and lots of fun but that *honestly* wasn't a party. And the next day the queen sitting alone at her husband's funeral because she did not think it was appropriate to relax rules that applied to everyone.

That and trying to give a gong to his dad (who may deserve one - it doesn't matter now), the sheer sense of unbounded arrogance and entitlement.

Every time Dorries or Mogg mention her people will think of Boris partying whilst ordinary people were prosecuted for going for a walk by themselves.

It also works in the medium term
Once Lab are in power, one easy attack path for the cons is
"$something is bad and and we were fixing it but lab did $something_else to make it worse"

This may of course be utter rubbish (or not), the difference is that Ms Grey will know what they have been up to for the last 10y or so.

dearieme said...

"an episode of the French Revolution that didn't make my school history books."

I suspect (but do not know) that many school history books presented the wars of the Republic as a consequence of attacks by foreign kings. In fact the Republic started the wars by attacking across its borders.

Before he became a pantomime dame on the telly Simon Schama wrote an excellent book on the revolution: "Citizens". It was so good that for years no French publisher would bring out a French edition.

Bill Quango MP said...

Nordstream news from Germany.

Spoiler alert


Ukraine dun it.


Russians posing as Ukrainians dun it.

Choose your favourite side.
Blame the other guys.

(SeymourHersh levels of some guy somewhere said something to someone who did some stuff, are not in the German media reports. Pretty detailed evidence of when and where for a change. If not who.)

DW News postulates it was Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs.

The most laughable thing of all is the Russians immediately calling for a UN investigation.

Yep .. the same Russians who refuse to acknowledge any UN resolutions to end the war. With a shrug of, ‘ what war? Only special military three day holiday excursion. No war. Be quiet. You USA owned parish council.’

Anonymous said...

BQ - surely the most laughable thing is the idea that some random Ukrainians can hire a boat and plant explosives in one of the most intensively monitored bits of sea on this earth (because its the exit route for Kronstadt fleet), and poor innocent NATO, holding exercises in the area and with sensors all over the seabed, don't have a clue as to their presence.

DW are, sadly, a joke of a news organisation. Not that the UK press are much better.

Nick Drew said...

Thanks BQ - we shall doubtless return to this one later ...

Anonymous said...

OT but it looks like the Septics are trying an anti-Russian Colour Revolution in Georgia (again). The last one didn't end too well for them IIRC.

Anomalous Cowshed said...

It's more than slightly weird.

The David Allen Green piece (thanks, Jim) examines Starmer's position, but doesn't address Gray's motivations.

The timing is probably what's best for Starmer; Gray can use the first 100 days to get her feet truly under the table, which takes us until mid-June or so. Starmer may well be betting that Sunak will go full Major - hang on in for grim death until he must call an election. That'd be end 2024. So, Gray has got 9 to 12 months from this summer, until Starmer puts the boot in and begins to agitate for an election, or no confidence vote - around early spring 2024 or thereabouts, as generally, I expect most to prefer an election in May, rather than December.

Obviously, any querying of the validity of the hire or process would disrupt that timetable.

But, there's not only Gray, but also Case.

Starmer may have opened up an opportunity for the Conservatives; that the Civil Service, certainly at it's highest levels, the one ministers interact with, is out of control. Case was at the parties, he doesn't seem to have warned Johnson, before or after. Given this, the service is potentially actively hostile to being bound to an elected government; it is not interested in playing by it's own rules, as per the Allen Green piece, Starmer will be bound by the service's desires, not the other way round.

Starmer is a believer in process, and the status quo. The voters will get more of the same, as that is what the service wants to continue doing.

This is odd, in that the natural party of government, the defenders of it's institutions, would no longer be the Conservatives, but Labour. For elements within the Conservatives, this position is entirely consistent with Brexit. It's less consistent with Blair/Brown, possibly more so with Corbyn.

Fun times ahead for both Sunak and Starmer.

E-K said...

BQ - Astoundingly good, these Ukrainians. Underwater specialists now too.