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8 March 2010

Is Chris Grayling facing the chop?

The Conservative shadow home secretary may be replaced by Michael Gove.

By George Eaton

Chris Grayling hasn’t had the happiest time as Tory shadow home secretary.

There was that ludicrous comparison of Britain’s cities with The Wire’s murder-ridden Baltimore. Then he unwittingly attacked the Tories’ appointment of Sir Richard Dannatt, the former head of the army, as a “political gimmick”, after mistakenly assuming the appointment was Gordon Brown’s and not David Cameron’s.

More recently, he manipulated crime statistics in order to claim that violent crime has risen by 70 per cent (in fact, it has fallen 49 per cent since 1995) and was publicly rebuked by the head of the statistics authority.

So perhaps it is not surprising that the Conservative leader has not selected Grayling as one of the five shadow cabinet ministers who will front the party’s election campaign. But the decision seems unusual when one remembers that Grayling has long been touted as the Tories’ “attack dog”, and that he shadows one of the great offices of state.

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Now the Telegraph is reporting that Michael Gove (one of the lucky five) could replace Grayling if the Tories win power.

The paper reports:

Asked on Sky News why Liam Fox, the shadow defence secretary, had been guaranteed a job, when he had not, Mr Grayling insisted that the defence post was an important one, before looking embarrassed when it was pointed out that the Home Office was one of the great offices of state.

As Tim Montgomerie points out, much of this speculation stems from Cameron’s foolish decision to guarantee two years ago that Andrew Lansley would be his health secretary. That unusual pledge has allowed the media to speculate endlessly about the future of those not offered a similar guarantee.

My guess is that Grayling will still (just) make it to the Home Office, but it’s clear that he can’t afford any campaign gaffes.

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