The Sketch: Faced with Labour babble, the Conservatives should brandish the death ray

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The Independent Online

The Home Secretary wished his amendment to one of the Government's innumerable crime bills would be more widely reported. Thanks to him, he said, homeowners protecting their properties can't be sued by burglars.

There we are. All part of the rebalancing of the country's criminal justice system, then. Now we can defend our homes without fear of being arrested and being banged up with drug-starved, violent offenders to be anally violated at Her Majesty's pleasure.

Do you share my doubts? Can this be right? What about that arresting officer who was charged with assault recently, even though it was he who'd sustained all the injuries?

Ah, no, the Home Secretary's amendment wasn't referring to that - what he meant was that you can't now be sued for leaving your cellar door open resulting in a burglar falling down your steps ... Seven years into government, seven years.

The gulf between legislators, professionals and the public widens remorselessly. Mr Blunkett passes laws that are ignored or subverted by judges, police and probation officers. Why does the criminal justice apparatus hold the ministerial team in such contempt? Is it in their contract? Or do they just watch the cacatopia that is Home Office questions every month?

Caroline Flint told us about the enormous challenge posed by hard drugs throughout the country. She said that the treatment for problematic drug users does actually work. She stopped for a moment while someone pulled the string hanging out of her back and then she told us drug addicts needed treatment that was quick and effective. Ms Flint has a ministerial office, you know, and a team of civil servants behind her, and a car and a driver.

That fellow Poor Gobbing - it's a very odd name, almost emblematic - told us that 50,000 basic skills qualifications were to be gained this year by prisoners. He knows the results before the exams are sat. That may cast doubt on the qualifications, you may think? Shame on you!

Now then: why isn't John Redwood on the front bench, doing Transport? Nobody would work with him? Nobody would need to work with him. Too weird? We're beyond weird. History of disloyalty? Does Michael Howard look longingly at Mr Redwood's strangler's hands?

But these are desperate times. Dear Theresa May just doesn't have the toxic, titanium-tipped firepower to penetrate the Government front bench. She must be gently demoted - I don't know why I say gently - and replaced by the living death ray that is Mr Redwood.

We can gauge how vacuous Alistair Darling's statement was on the future of the railways by the fact that he mentioned "Tory privatisation" 17 times. The real problem was the nationalisation of the railways in the past century. As the renationalisation isn't going especially well, we now seem to have a review of the industry that will be reporting in the summer. Thus, Mr Darling will be able to avoid the question for six precious months. If he comes up with a structure that can outperform Railtrack I'll eat my dry cork hat.