Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Maria Miller, web crusader and saviour of British sport

Some politicians say nothing in an interesting way. Miller says nothing in an irritating way

Are Maria Miller’s lunges for fame and fortune beginning to look a little desperate? “What a week it has been for British sport!” she exclaimed to MPs. England’s one-day team had “romped home” against South Africa, Andy Murray had won at Queen’s and “Basingstoke’s own” Justin Rose had won the US Open (the Hampshire town already basks in being the Culture, Media and Sport Secretary’s constituency). This would have been all right – except that the question she’d been asked was “if she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities”.

This week, a Miller lieutenant pointed out that she was the only mum in the Cabinet, implying this made her uniquely qualified to protect children from internet abuse, not to mention (presumably) leading the Conservative Party. Was she now claiming credit for the country’s sporting triumphs? Which would be fine, provided she takes the blame for its failures, including those of the England football team, controversially described by Tory backbencher David Mowat as a “valuable national asset”.

Some politicians say nothing in an interesting way. Ms Miller often says nothing in an irritating way. Pressed by her Labour predecessor Ben Bradshaw to show she was not “in the pocket of Google” and implement a three-year-old law on copyright theft, she said the law required “a great deal of working through,” was a “huge priority” and “ we are working closely to ensure that copyright support is put in place as soon as possible”. When was “soon”? What did “closely” mean? And with whom? We were in the dark.

There was light relief, however, after Labour’s Kerry McCarthy asked about musicians and actors forced to work for next to nothing. Tory backbencher Sir Tony Baldry quoted T S Eliot on the walk-on parts needed “to swell a progress, start a scene or two – to be deferential, or glad to be of use”. He was obviously lamenting the thankless task of loyal Government MPs, himself included. “Not everyone can be Hamlet,” agreed Miller’s deputy Ed Vaizey. Who, come to think of it, would be perfect as Horatio. As Women’s minister, Ms Miller was there to hear the first question on Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson. Judiciously not naming the couple, Labour’s Sandra Osborne asked: “What kind of message does it send if an alleged perpetrator can receive a caution despite extensive corroborative evidence… Or is it a question of... one law for the rich and famous and another for everybody else?”

No, said the Liberal Democrat Home Office minister Jeremy Browne, sharing her concern at low conviction-rates for domestic violence – and avoiding the gruesomely equivocal train-wreck of an answer his party leader had given earlier on “Call Clegg”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Parker says: 'I once had a taster use the phrase 'smells like the sex glands of a lemming'. Who in the world can relate to that?'
food + drinkRobert Parker's 100-point scale is a benchmark of achievement for wine-makers everywhere
News
i100
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing