The Sketch: Even brutal Presco is preferable to the bloodless backroom boys

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The Independent Online

The noise was terrific. Everyone was in character. The House and all its inhabitants. But no one more characteristic than Presco. "My honourable member," he said, in reply to a friendly question. Oh, joy! Roll it around in your mouth. My honourable old cocktail sausage!

He struck a valedictory note by referring more than once to "my contribution over 35 years in the House". Maybe he's taking his honourable member back to Prescopolis (or Hull, as we used to call it). In the meantime, he's running the country!

The Prime Minister belted out some of his greatest hits. "The party opposite voted against it!" Always a crowd-pleaser. And "As a result of representations" (an instant classic). He gives us that last one as the reason for shelving one of his eye-catching initiatives (from the billion-pound restructuring of the country's police forces to home information packs).

The House enjoyed itself enormously, bawling, bellowing and barracking. Presco slurred a Tory for taking money from gambling interests and caused a delirious reaction. "Liar!" the Tory kept shouting. Uproar. Labour yelled back. "It's very difficult to be fair when there's so much noise," the Speaker complained.

Cameron had his best PMQs since his first one. He caught out the Prime Minister in a factual error (how he hates being wrong). But the Prime Minister reverted to the courteous character he does best of all.

One Tory suggested the PM holiday in Scarborough because people do so often retire there. The PM said: "One of the advantages would be bumping into the hon gentleman." He also hoped the Tory would have a very pleasant holiday, as he himself was intending to do. We'll miss him.

John Maples suggested holidaying in England so that he wouldn't have to leave the country in the hands of Deputy Presco. The PM thanked him for "good advice".

"From an idiot!" the DPM bellowed (you could tell he'd crafted that one). When Presco sat down for the last time, the other Miliband stood up. It was Ancient and Modern. Presco is brutal and stupid as we know, but to some of us he's preferable to the bloodless backroom boys (the Milibands and Osbornes) of modern politics. We shall miss him more than he'll miss us.

And then Dr Demento gave us his plan to make the Home Office fit for purpose. Sacking 25 per cent of the quarterdeck is the starting point. That's very good news. The department is now going to leak more than a German-owned water utility.

David Davis suggested overload in the Home Office might be the result of 1,300 new regulations, 1,000 new offences and the 50 Bills passed into law since 1997 (more than in the previous 100 years).

No new initiatives! That's the new initiative. Is Dr Demento really going to obey this self-denying ordinance? Is the Pope a Protestant?

sketch@simoncarr.co.uk

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