The Sketch: Hewitt doubles the rate of transparency

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Patricia Hewitt must be congratulated because... Hang on, where was I? Try finishing a sentence that starts like that.

Patricia Hewitt must be congratulated because... Hang on, where was I? Try finishing a sentence that starts like that.

Patricia Hewitt was telling the House that transparency was essential, that investment was important, that she understood our concerns, which were also important, and that they were being addressed and that she would be working very closely with whomever it was necessary to take the way forward and ... now I remember.

Patricia Hewitt must be congratulated for changing her delivery. She's doubled the rate of it. She's talking much more quickly. This is a great relief to those who have to listen. There's not any more content but it's over more quickly.

She now sounds as though she has more ideas than she has time to express. It's a triumph of style over content. She spent most of question time denouncing subsidies before her junior minister boasted of the "incentivisation" of the oil exploration industry. I incentivise, you subsidise, they pour taxpayers' money into a black pit.

Anne McIntosh said British wind farms were going to cost £2bn to build. On these figures, they'd be a pretty good example of government commerce - they consume more energy than they produce.

And Brian Wilson informed the House with a straight face that British collieries were the most efficient in the world. Yes, but it's Mrs Thatcher we have to thank for that.

In a mixture of vanity, vainglory and sheer, shrinking gutlessness, they've decided to put a glass screen up between the public gallery and the debating chamber. The official line is that it's to protect the Prime Minister from assassination. The fact that the decision was announced after he was heckled half a dozen times by protesters from Oxford (Go Oxford!) suggests an even less creditable explanation.

If, as the Government tells us, we are all in "mortal danger" from terrorism then their special arrangements erect a further barrier between them and us, one that is not merely physical. It's hard to feel contempt for our leaders, but this decision has come from, in Tony Wright's phrase, the cesspool of political life.

What happened to British sangfroid? If anyone manages to explode something in the Palace of Westminster we all have an extremely good chance of surviving. If the attack is of such a nature that we don't, then no glass screen is going to help us one way or the other.

Gwyneth Dunwoody wanted a parliamentary vote on the screen, saying that Parliament was a reflection of the country (a statement we can only hope isn't true).

"Any permanent change will be subject to a decision," Peter Hain said. He implied it would be the decision of the House of Commons, but it could mean anything.

Simoncarr75@hotmail.com

Comments