Parliament Sketch: After the replay, lords arrange Pinochet's away match

"ESPANA POR FAVOR" chanted a crowd of demonstrators in Parliament Square yesterday, cheerfully putting their case that Senator Augusto Pinochet should be allowed to take his complimentary trip to the Costa del Sol.

Inside the law lords were due to give their judgment for the second time, and many people were hoping for a repeat of the penalty shoot-out cliffhanger the previous fixture had delivered.

In the Lords, the visitors' galleries creaked under the weight of lucky ticket-holders, several of them clutching Human Rights Watch's useful team list, a fill-in-as-you-go scorecard, adorned with pictures of their lordships and boxes in which to note which way each judgment went.

For the first two announcements it seemed as if it might actually be useful for keeping tally, with Lord Goff levelling the score after an initial vote for extradition from Lord Browne-Wilkinson. After that, though, it was all downhill for the general. The point of no return passed without an audible mark and the first sound that moved the chamber was the laughter that greeted Lord Browne-Wilkinson's remark that the judgments were "incapable of being understood without some explanation". After glancing through the written opinions, with their talk of "immunity rationae materiae", "the refoulement of persons" and the principle of "aut dedere aut punire", Lord Browne-Wilkinson's crisp paraphrase was gratefully taken up.

We could have done with him half an hour later, to offer a simultaneous translation of the Deputy Prime Minister's answers as he stood in for his boss at Prime Minister's questions. Impromptu sentence construction is not one of Mr Prescott's strong points and his frail syntactical powers appear to be further sapped when he finds himself addressed as Prime Minister. The result is not boring, it has to be said, with some replies offering the vision of a strange parallel universe, similar to our own but subtly different in its details. After a hostile Labour question about military action against Serbia, for example, Mr Prescott was at pains to underline allied determination. "Unato is united," he said resolutely, accidentally inventing what sounded to be a useful hybrid of international talking shop and mutual defence pact

A little later, after Peter Lilley had asked for an assurance that the murderer of Stephen Restorick would not be released early unless IRA weapons had been decommissioned, Mr Prescott stumbled again. "The freeing and exchange of prisoners" would continue, he said. Tories barked in synthetic confusion. Was there some PoW camp deep in bandit-country that they had not been told about? Mr Prescott looked testy. "I withdraw that remark. I apologise. I made a slip," he said, in a voice like fingernails raking down a blackboard.

The truth is, though, that Mr Prescott offers more slips than a lingerie department - sometimes eliding whole words ("everybody in the House feels exactly about that," he said, after a denunciation of child abuse), sometimes mispronouncing one so that the sentence twists surreally in his mouth: "The average level of the Tax Asian has gone down," he said, in a reply about council tax levels.

He was rescued only by the dogged solidarity of his Labour colleagues. The inevitable gibe about diving had come from Peter Lilley but Mr Prescott was prepared for it. "When I dived 80 feet," he said, "I didn't dive low enough to discover the low Tory poll rating!" This quip had surfaced so fast that it got the bends and hit the deck writhing. But the entire Parliamentary Labour Party turned out to give it mouth-to-mouth, roaring as if it was the very epitome of repartee. Mr Prescott was so cheered up he got through a whole sentence without a fluff.

world cup 2014A history of the third-place play-offs
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice