The Sketch: Half-asleep? Do you know you can be arrested for that?

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The Independent Online

Conversely, I can't tell you what Adam Ingram was saying about the court martial case that collapsed, but I can confidently say it was rubbish. After a number of years of close attendance, it's suddenly clear I don't have to know what they're saying to hear if it's any good. I'm like a secretary who can take accurate dictation without hearing what's being said. Thus, Miliband: clear, coherent, cleverly deceptive. Ingram: big, dumb brute cranking the ministerial cack-handle.

Likewise, I don't actually have to attend the Prime Minister's press conference to bring you conclusive evidence of his deteriorating position. He was sharp with journalists. Curt with The Daily Telegraph; almost rude. This is so unlike the Prime Minister that we can deduce some fundamental shift. The most courteous politician in recent memory, ave atque vale. (I got 8-1 on him leaving office next year, before the odds collapsed).

At any rate, back to the semi-conscious state. Dozing away during Home Office questions I heard one of the ministers saying that under the Serious Organised Crime Act, "all offences are arrestable". I woke up. Crimes that are neither serious nor organised are now arrestable? I checked with the officials. "Did I just hear the minister say that all offences were arrestable?"

He looked at me cautiously. "I didn't hear her say that," he said. He'd been asleep too. No shame in that.

"But is it the case that all offences are arrestable?"

He said he'd ring me. Nice young man. He rang me. It is the case that from 1 January, all offences will be arrestable. This isn't to say you will be arrested for littering, but that you may be if they feel like it. Repeat it to yourself enough and it will eventually go in. All offences are arrestable.

Last year, Hazel Blears told us control orders weren't for punishment for committing an offence, but a mechanism to stop people committing an offence. That is, we can be deprived of our liberty without a trial, without being found guilty of anything, and most innovatively, without having done anything wrong.

I mentioned the arrestable fact to a few people round the gallery: Senior journalists, analysts, commentators. They were surprised. They hadn't heard. We're all half asleep. We defend ourselves against the constant, sussurating rush of legislation by retreating to semi-consciousness. It's how they get away with it.

We should be arrested. We probably will be. All offences are arrestable.

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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