Julia condemns Grayling's 'The Wire' comparison

by Stephen Tall on August 26, 2009

In the absence of much real political news, Tory shadow home secretary Chris Grayling’s rather bumbling attempt to drink the kool-ade – by referencing cult US crime TV show ‘The Wire’ in a speech echoing his party’s tired ‘Broken Britain’ theme – has backfired.

As The Indpendent caustically notes today, not only has Mr Grayling shown himself to be guilty of ludicrous hyperbole, but he’s also been forced to admit his Wire knowledge is a little on the scant side:

… his comments are not backed up by facts. With 234 murders in 2008 Baltimore had nearly twice the number of London, despite having less than one tenth of the population. In fact the chance of being murdered in Baltimore, a city with a population of about 650,000, is one in 2,700. In Britain the chances are one in 85,000.

You are also more likely to be robbed in Baltimore than in the UK – the chances being one in 150 compared with one in 1,000. And more likely to become a victim of burglary – one in 80 compared to one in 90.

But Mr Grayling also appeared not to be that familiar with the fictional either. In a radio interview he was forced to admit that he had not even watched all of the of the acclaimed shows, saying: “I’ve seen most of the first series. I’ve seen a number of the other episodes.”

The comments had echoes of other occasions when the Tories have attempted – and failed – to ‘get down with the kids’, most notably when William Hague wore a baseball cap and when he once claimed to have drunk 14 pints of beer in one day.

Lib Dem shadow communities secretary Julia Goldsworthy wins quote of the day for this contribution:

The fact that the Tories can only comprehend the issues real people face through box sets watched in the comfort of their own living rooms only highlights their total detachment from the concerns of Britain’s inner cities.

“We look forward to Chris Grayling’s reassessment of the devastating impact of Thatcherism on this country once he’s watched series 2.”