Chris Grayling and the artlessness of the political cliché

Politicians are rarely sincere. Most of the time they trade in clichés and platitudes, particularly when placed under pressure. But Chris Grayling, the Conservative MP for Epsom and Ewell, and minister of state for work and pensions, undid himself when he appeared on the BBC Daily Politics show this afternoon. When asked by Andrew Neil, the programme’s presenter, what the government where going to do about violent protests in the capital, his response was as follows, the clichés are highlighted.

“It is quite clear that the tactics used weren’t as effective as we would wish. What happened was totally unacceptable, lessons have got to be learned. Those discussions will be taking place right now at the Metropolitan Police. But let’s be clear, it is people on the ground to decide what the tactics should be. We have to trust the professionals; we can give guidance; we can give a steer; we should be robust in backing the police in difficult situations. But is the officers on the ground, the senior officers on the ground, who have to make the decisions.

So that’s nothing then. Which to be fair to Mr Grayling would have been a reasonable response. So why not admit so and spare us the vague language. I mean, when someone says we shoud “trust the professionals”, I just think of Bodie and Doyle.