Matthew Norman: How we'll all miss Jacqui Smith

Her decision to ban a US shock jock demands yet another Home Office dunce's cap

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There are stronger reasons for craving a written constitution of the sort favoured by less overtly malfunctioning democracies than our own, but the one I'd like to start with today is this: under such a document, the crucial role of "Government Manuel" could be formalised into an official state position carrying a salary, unrestricted unreceipted expenses, a front-row seat at the Coronation, and a taxpayer-funded filigree Siberian hamster (rat).

As things stand there is no requirement for the position to be filled at all, and that can't be right. You can see how it came to be left vacant, because the previous incumbent was no easy act to follow. John Prescott played the part with such virtuosity that you suspected he might be a student of the method.

"Well, what are you going to do now?" a livid Basil enquired on discovering that the door to the dining room had been sacrificed on the altar of the Spaniard's hapless bemusement. "Qué?" "What. You. Do. Now?" came the follow-up as he battered the Spaniard's head against the unwanted new wall.

It would need a special supplement to catalogue What. Prescott. Did. His replacement is Jacqui Smith, of course, and what a successor she's proving. There are creatures crawling around beneath the paving stones outside my shed that would fill the great office of state of Home Secretary with greater dignity, intellect and competence, but in the future office of state that is Government Manuel, or Manuela, she's a megastar.

What. She. Done. Now may not rival the near-£500 per week sister's bedroom for avarice, the reimbursement for the husband's wristy home entertainment for venality, or the Ghurka debacle for political tone-deafness. Even so, her decision to ban an American radio talk-show host from this septic isle demands yet another run out for the trusty Home Office dunce's cap.

Michael Savage is a new name to me, as perhaps it is to you. It's fairly new to him, in fact, this third-ranking US "shock jock", behind the limitlessly repugnant Rush Limbaugh and the endlessly preposterous Glenn Beck, having been born with the far more fitting surname of Wiener. Savage as he prefers to be perceived, here's another of the US airwaves' little dicks... one of those motormouthed rabble-rousers whose streams of semi-consciousness flow incessantly towards ears sited a few inches above the reddest of necks; and who seem gratifyingly committed to doing their bit to keep the Republicans out of the White House for many years to come.

To this little Wiener, autism is a poor excuse for naughtiness, gay marriage an abomination in the eyes of the Lord, and the white man a wickedly persecuted entity in an oppressively multicultural world. Many of us know the schtick, if not from the likes of Wiener himself then from Stephen Colbert's flawless parody.

What has stirred Manuela into action is none of the above opinions. Distasteful as they may be, they are not enough to cause their propounder's exclusion. It is Wiener's thoughts on Islam, and specifically the Koran ( "a book of hate" as he calls it), that enable her to act under the legislation of 2005 covering the promotion of "hatred, terrorist violence or serious criminal activity".

The stupidity displayed here by the woman Wiener describes, with unwonted charity, as "a lunatic" covers so many bases that you'd need all 49 Lottery balls and the machine known as Guinevere to pick the six winners. Space being short, let's limit ourselves to needlessly martyring an unpalatable but (to us, until now) irrelevant moron, and inviting the inevitably successful libel action Wiener promises to bring against her for bracketing him with some serious Russian neo-Nazi killers and some seriously nasty Muslim extremists.

The bonus ball is the fact that, regardless of his whereabouts, we can listen to Wiener's rot every day over the internet. In the Elysian fields of gerontocratic Beijing, the signal would be blocked, and given Ms Smith's fears for the effect of Wiener's honeyed words on malleable British minds that would seem the logical next step. However even autocratic centralist Labour administration has shied away from that.

Yet buried far beneath the surface lies a minute nugget of rationale. It may be muddle-headed, and it may even be demented, but evidently Manuela hopes to fashion from Wiener's exclusion a fig leaf to cover her modesty if and when members of the Muslim community take umbrage at the banning of less appetising co-religionists. How can you moan about me keeping out the advocates of murderous religious violence, her intended rebuttal must be, when I'm also keeping out a man who has been perfectly beastly about your sacred text?

Does it really need stating that the direct moral (and in this instance legal) equivocation between seeking to inspire the slaughter of innocents and spouting crude and ignorant opinion is an act of criminal idiocy in itself? Must we be forever stating the bleedin' obvious about how hurriedly passed, ill-conceived and crazily draconian anti-terrorism legislation will always be misapplied, as with dear old Walter Wolfgang and that gentle young vegan woman nicked for reciting the names of our war dead at the Cenotaph? How much more breathtaking abuse of rank bad law must be tolerated before the pressure for a written constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech, as enjoyed by Wiener back home, begins to grow?

Yes, yes and far too much appear the answers to the above. For this is Britain, beacon of governmental duncery to the world, where a Home Secretary's cunning plan to divert focus from her status as Laughing Stock-in-Chief compels the liberal centre left to make common cause with an ultra-right-wing shock jock, and to anticipate with relish the day when this dime-a-dozen twerp pockets a fortune off the taxpayer in libel damages.

Jacqui Smith, like so many adored sitcom foils, is a plain and simple imbecile. She makes Baldrick look like Roy Jenkins, Doberman from Bilko's motor platoon like FDR, Phoebe from Friends like Hillary Clinton, and Dibley verger Alice Tinker like Mrs Gandhi. So let us cherish her until the summer reshuffle, and pray that she is then retained as Manuela, the Silver Stick sequestered from that mysterious officer of state and duly adorned with jester's bells, and safely housed in a heavily padded grace-and-favour apartment in Torquay.

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