The Sketch: I'd back Harriet in a fight with David

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The Independent Online

Well, there it was, the question of US intelligence documents that our judges want to open up in court and the Yanks don't. David Miliband came to the Commons to defend the authorities as, I suppose, he has to. Though exactly why escapes me, if he's the new mould we're all supposed to be waiting for. And if David Davis was right in his epic 210-word question, confidentiality does not apply when it will conceal a crime.

Did a crime take place? And if so, was it greater than the rendition flights that Tony Blair let land in Britain? On the one hand we've heard that detainee, Mr Mohamed, saying that he was rendered to Algeria where he had a razor taken to his genitals, but on the other the judges say the documents in front of them contain only an "arguable case of torture". That must rule out razors. And the other devices that are beyond argument. And if you want to say there are no grades of torture, that the concept is absolute, then you've never been on the receiving end of it.

The leader of the House sat there fragrantly as young Miliband gained a little more dispatch box experience. They've both come a long way – he since he was a Downing Street pet, and she since her civil rights days, oh she was a terrier for them then.

Whenever the two of them are seen together I can't help thinking she'd murder him in a leadership contest. The party numbers may very well be with Harriet. She has an active constituency of the most meddlesome MPs in Parliament, the unions would prefer her over the brush-cut Blairite, and she has gender advantages that can't be referred to without offending Jo Brand.

The Tories will need her badly in years to come, as they're still not very much more than "a crowd" as Pete Wishart described them, or "a gaggle" as one of them preferred, or a slowly moving rockslide as they are in reality.

Why are they so forgettable on big things like the VAT cut? A Sketch reader wrote in to suggest that for voters to get Gordon Brown's £5 extra a week they'd have to be spending £200 a week above non-VATable items like food and rent. And someone else pointed out that the £13bn cost of it amounted to 4p off income tax.

What an electrifying Tory proposition that is. It's costed, it's consensual, and it's infinitely more popular than a VAT cut (which benefits businesses more than citizens). Four pence off the basic rate of tax! It would take Frank Field to say it out loud.

The Tories may win the next election but not the one after – unless Harriet wins her election first.