With Kenneth Clarke on his first appearance before the Justice Select Committee 25/7/2010 we saw what was below that "I`m a fair chap" image; " He was not fussed about competitive tendering (“we have enough lawyers” and there is “no lack of people wanting to come in”). “I haven’t made that many policy decisions yet”, he concluded." Further comment is available here. He was proud to tell the media that in that first austerity budget of the Coalition he had made cuts of 23.8% in the MOJ budget and that he was the first secretary of state to have submitted that intention to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. His period at Petty France was just the beginning of the cracks which are now threatening to collapse the pillar of justice.
From the sublime Kenneth Clarke to the ridiculous Chris Grayling who was his anointed successor. It was his bright idea to decide that having courts and personnel to offer a system of justice to all as the right of every citizen as had been the ethos (more or less) for centuries was untenable and wasteful of precious funds. He decided to impose a tax on every offender for the privilege of appearing in a court of law. This tax was to be over and above any fines, compensation or social or custodial sentence imposed. It was not means tested. Perhaps his landmark achievement was to forbid visitors bringing books for prisoners to read in jail; such a stupid decision it was reversed by his successor. However he will forever be remembered for his actions in his next job as Transport Secretary in signing a shipping contract with a company which had no ships.But no problem; he was a staunch supporter of our prime minister and a fanatic Brexiteer.
Next came Michael Gove to who, to many supporters, is the brains of the party. Speaking outside his portfolio before the Referendum he was not immune to endorsing the lies of the Leavers; Just prior on being questioned on Sky it is quoted, " Like Mr Cameron, Mr Gove faced intense scrutiny of his campaign tactics, in particular the claim that the UK sends £350m to the EU every week. Sky’s political editor Faisal Islam said Mr Gove knew that figure was wrong, and accused him of importing the “post-truth” politics of Donald Trump to the UK. The UK Statistics Authority has said the figure “is misleading and undermines trust in official statistics”, because it is a gross sum and does not account for Britain’s rebate and funding received from the EU. In response to Mr Islam, Mr Gove agreed to have the figure independently audited." The full text is available here. To quote from Politico, "As justice secretary and lord chancellor, Gove got “a lot of the judges and legal Twitter on-side” with warm words on rehabilitation and the justice system, according to one former civil servant who was working in government at the time.But the ex-official believes Gove “did little in the way of actual reform, simply applying his strong rhetorical skills to tell a story about justice.” That was mainly due to his short tenure. He was in post for just over a year before the EU referendum brought the Cameron government to an abrupt halt". It is arguable that had he been in post longer our justice system would have benefited greatly from his intellectual prowess, a facility sadly lacking in some of his contemporaries. Under his short stewardship at Petty France the MOJ produced its annual report 2016/2017 as bland and meaningless as ever.