On Cynicism

There is an increasingly narrow spectrum of cynicism regarding the public utterances of Chris Grayling on Legal Aid .

We commented on his faux apology, made at Tory Conference last week, suggesting that if he were really sorry he might retract some of his more poisonous statements. A genuine penitent might, for example, attempt to reverse the “fat cat legal aid lawyer” slur, which has underpinned his department’s spin doctoring.

Today we get a slight relaxation of this:

“We have tried to ensure our proposals have more impact on those who earn very high amounts than the more junior Bar”.

So a, scant, acknowledgement that the junior bar are not coining it. However, that he has not yet realised that it is the precisely the Junior Bar who are most at risk from these proposals is most telling. No amount of ministerial exhortation to increase “private work” and/or “prosecution” is going to change that (Chris you can prosecute and defend at the same time BTW).

This is pretty much old ground however and there is another issue which emerges.

If Legal Aid costs are unsustainable, particularly at a time of falling crime, then this is an issue of fundamental concern to the operation of our system of justice and democracy. It is an issue requiring a much more comprehensive response from government than the rather shabby attempts, so far made, to achieve immediate cost cuts. It would involve very serious consideration as to the long-term impact of these short-term measures – which, as suggested above, Grayling does not seem fully to have grasped. I’d have expected a Tory Lord Chancellor like Lord Mackay forcibly and publicly to have grasped this nettle – not so the current incumbent,

Of course the “unsustainability” claim is probably just another line of media fire from a minister it is now all but impossible to believe. We also seem to have judged his conference-week remorse correctly too.

About Author: SP

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