Simon Carr: The Sketch

Could rouge and foundation makes up the beating heart of Blair's Labour?
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She'll surely do well in the Labour Party, a nice young woman who looks like a nice young man. Her leader is a Tory who looks like a socialist. Or he's a socialist who looks like a Tory. "We are the party of the individual because we are the party of community," as he said. A little something for everyone. If these polarities start getting mixed up though we'll be soon be enjoying the spectacle of our Prime Minister in rouge and foundation make-up. Yes, and what will that do to the respect agenda?

We groaned, in Defence questions, under the colonial yoke of our oppressors. Two Scots and a Welshman constitute the defence front bench. Well, it's the British Army after all. Fierce the beacon light is flaming, is it not? John Reid is the new minister, replacing ... I forget whom. He's pugnacious, as befits a Minister of War, and he's become (as war is said to be) quite boring. Those of his answers that aren't impenetrable don't mean anything and those that do mean something don't need saying.

Edward Leigh referred to the recent National Audit report which said 40 per cent of our armed forces were in a very poor state of readiness. They weren't really ready at all. It was "critical", the report said, how unready 40 per cent of our forces were. Mr Reid said we had to take a balanced view of it. "I don't believe they did say 'critical'," he said. "The report was based on their own self-critical analysis."

Andrew Robathan pointed out that the EU had set up their own command and control centre in the Sudan because of their antipathy to the United States. "Far from illustrating a ..." Dr Reid fished in his £5 dictionary, "dichotomy, it shows how they can work together." He continued for quite some time, too long for some. He does believe that the person who talks the most wins. It is the way of the world. Or his world, at least.

Crispin Blunt pointed out that the fighters we have bought from America remain the intellectual property of their American manufacturers. So we can buy the planes but can't service them ourselves. What a brilliant feat of marketing - they sell us a hose which we stick into our defence budget and allow them to throw the switch to "suck". And suck it does.