The Tories have weathered Chris Grayling’s gay gaffe. The story could only gain momentum if the papers had gone to town on it. They have not. The Times gives it a couple of paragraphs at the bottom of an inner page and even the Independent and the Guardian relegate it to the interior.
The news agenda has gone into election over-drive, but I doubt this story would have had legs anyway, even before his denial. Grayling is no homophobe and whilst he voted for the Equality bill he is right that it should be applied with a soft-touch where the boundary between public and private space is blurred. The State should not dictate how you use your property unless you contravene criminal law by doing so. It’s distasteful that prejudice insists you deny homosexuals board and lodging, but it should not be illegal as it isn’t inciting hatred (which is rightly illegal). To those who argue this is the thin end of the wedge, I would again say that, no matter how disgusting the prejudice, property rights are sacrosanct and denying board is not inciting racial and religious hatred; it’s just bigoted and commercially idiotic.
A traditional theme has re-emerged: Grayling is a walking, babbling catastrophe. As Iain Martin notes, the example Grayling used and his timing could scarcely have been worse. This is the fourth high profile Grayling gaffe in nine months – hot on the heels of The Wire, General Dannatt and jumping on the household burglary bandwagon. Additionally, Tory Home policy is so incoherent that Tony Blair stood up in Sedgefield and said that the Tories are too soft on crime and nobody blinked. Grayling was excellent shadowing Welfare and Pensions, but he is no Willie Whitelaw. David Davis might be.