The Sketch: Despite plenty of ammunition, Iain Duncan Thingy is firing blanks

I wasn't there, you'll have to sketch this yourself. Here are the raw materials.
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The Independent Online

Westminster Hall. Twerp minister Ben Bradshaw calls old highland longhorn, George Galloway "an advocate for and mouthpiece of the Iraqi regime". After 20 seconds of gouging, goring and dancing hoofwork, Galloway is thrown out.

Today in the Commons, a motion will be presented to the House by Robin Cook to suspend Mr Galloway from the Commons. The reaction of the back bench will be an interesting gauge of party feeling on going to war with Downing Street.

Excuse me, Iraq. Will they speak out against this extraordinary smear on Galloway? Will they denounce the exponential increase in governmental mendacity? Or will the whips hit them so hard as to knock the breath out of them?

Prime Minister's questions must rank as a failure for the Prime Minister but an even larger failure for Thingy. The opposition leader, you know, Thingy.What material he has. He has yet to wound or even wind the Prime Minister.

Lib Dem David Heath remarked that Lord Cullen's 41 safety recommendations were to have been implemented three months ago. They still were not in place. When would it happen? Mr Blair said, placatingly (and therefore contemptuously): "We are taking forward the recommendations." Remember that, if you find yourself in a fireball.

Michael Jack said that 37 elderly care homes were being shut down in Lancashire, and that all MPs opposed the closures. Mr Blair replied that spending on the elderly had increased by 20 per cent.

It's a paradox, at a vulgar level but typical of political endeavour. Increasing funds to look after the elderly results in closing down care homes for the elderly. Julian Brazier gave us another example of this. The Government was putting £200m into his area health system. As a result, 15,000 people were marching in protest, the consultants were in revolt and the Royal College of Nursing had denounced it. For all Brown's extra billions, the number of beds in Kent is increasingly inadequate. More money: worse services.

Finally, Vincent Cable put the last piece of this theme in place, and the Prime Minister explained the puzzle. Mr Cable said that diagnosed cancer patients were waiting two to three months for radiology treatment. "If the NHS is the top priority and if cancer is the top priority of the top priority, why is the situation deteriorating?" Mr Blair revealed that because the Government was investing more, more people were being referred. More resources meant more delays. It is Government in action: the solution is the problem.

Charles Kennedy revealed the Strategic Rail Authority had discovered an £8bn hole in Stephen Byers' 10-year transport plan. Mr Blair was disappointed that Mr Kennedy hadn't welcomed the £6bn invested last year. Readers may puzzle over the linkage between question and answer. There is none.

Iain Duncan Thingy said the downgrading of Railtrack's credit rating would add a billion to the investment bill. Mr Blair disagreed.

Sketch disagrees too. Sketch predicts £10bn. Yes, and at every mainline station the Evening Standard promo sheets shouted that the City was denying investment cash to Government.

And so we stagger on.

Simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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