The Sketch: Beware of becoming a 'character' because nobody will listen to you

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The Independent Online

In no particular order, then. John Bercow's passionate attack on the Uzbek government ("brutal and sadistic regime" inspiring "hand-wringing impotence" caused by "reckless pursuit of filthy lucre") was met with Labour laughter. It may be too late for Mr Bercow. He has become a "character" and nothing he says can be taken seriously.

David Tredinnick is never listened to (people only wait for the words "complementary medicine"). Bill Cash is never listened to (people only wait for the letters E and U). And now, John Bercow will never be listened to (people only register his manner). It's a sort of parliamentary limbo from which no "character" has ever emerged. Terrible fate.

Ian Pearson sounds as if he is about to burst into tears. It is a very odd quality in a minister. Sion Simon is his PPS. There can't be any appointment more humiliating. But I sense a roar of protest: You have a cruel streak which I deprecate. But you're right. Handsome, popular, humorous Stephen Pound is PPS to Hazel Blears.

Douglas Alexander produced a classic: "I certainly recognise the status quo needs to be taken forward," he said. What was the question? Boiling dissidents in central Asia, perhaps? Turkey's habit of locking up historians who "insult the national character"? Burma's ... but you get the picture. Douglas can lose anything in his "wilderness of words". He thought Britain was doing rather well in Uzbekistan, by the way: "we have led international efforts in co-ordinating monitoring of the trials". The show trials, that is, after the massacre (the victims are in the dock, obviously).

Kim Howells was obviously sober. But his analysis of the two-state situation is more commonly heard from someone face down in a Leicester Square gutter.

Finally, John Maples put the rudest point of order we'd heard, accusing the Speaker of a lack of honour, refusing to call a Tory on the only Israel question on the order paper. I wonder if he'll ever be called again.

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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