The Sketch: Forget about the lack of dentists, here's a new tooth fairy

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The Independent Online

The responsibility for teeth has been taken over by the Minister of Health himself. The Government is taking very seriously the loss of public confidence, you see, in state tooth health. There aren't enough state tooth doctors you see (ideologues will say this is a defining characteristic of all state tooth care).

The responsibility for teeth has been taken over by the Minister of Health himself. The Government is taking very seriously the loss of public confidence, you see, in state tooth health. There aren't enough state tooth doctors you see (ideologues will say this is a defining characteristic of all state tooth care).

In the absence of tooth doctors, we have a new tooth fairy to leave us some compensation under our pillows as our nationalised teeth turn into Oxo cubes and disintegrate. The old tooth fairy was Rosie Winterton, but we can't really blame her, not without a great deal of effort. She is a chuckle-headed little thing with a winning smile and twinkling ankles. She is so easy on the eye it's considered rude to reproduce her parliamentary answers in full. In polite summary, then, they are reconstituted from political drool so empty of content that they consume very considerably more intellectual energy than they produce. What happened to her now she is toothless? She has been given some other health-related eggs to sit on, something to do with mental health. I formed quite a strong impression she had been appointed the under-secretary of state in charge of the nation's mental problems. If you have depressive, paranoid or schizoid tendencies you would do well to forget I ever mentioned the name of the politician who is now looking after you.

In the second week of our early recall, Meg Munn's 10-minute rule Bill made us speculate on whether Parliament has become more relevant or less to the world outside. She has uncovered a vile, discriminatory practice fostered by the ballot papers we so unthinkingly fill in. It seems the candidates at the top of the paper do better than ones at the bottom. Alphabetical discrimination has been institutionalised, and we are all guilty. Look at the success of the BNP. The solution is to randomise the names; they do this in Australia very thoroughly. Every candidate is given a random number and then the random numbers are randomised before being randomly picked, which is why the candidates are randomly elected. Ms Munn says randomisation eliminates the influence of accidents of birth and marriage on elections outcomes. What a rallying cry, it's why we go into politics to make the world a better place. The Bill is being sponsored by losers at the stupid end of the alphabet, Messrs White, Whitehead and Woollas.

The latter then led his party into a pleasant and reasonable debate about fair access to universities. Kim Howells, five days into his musical chairs job, told us he had a lot to learn about higher education. Tim Collins managed to scotch a couple of the Prime Minister's more devious misrepresentations. Really, the whole question is so ethically confused that misrepresentation is quite unnecessary.

The two most serious unintended consequences of top-up fees are 1: Poor students being deterred from going to university and 2: A 10-year housing crash (how can graduates afford a deposit when they have got £30,000 of debt?).

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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