The Sketch: If Iraq saw our democracy, they would want to reconsider the idea

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The Independent Online

This is the best bit of the year. It's hot, nothing's happening, people are tired, the strain is starting to show. We're not yet into the dog days but there's something canine in the air; it's puppyish yet, but oh, how fast they grow. Between now and the end of July the yapping will turn to barking.

This is the best bit of the year. It's hot, nothing's happening, people are tired, the strain is starting to show. We're not yet into the dog days but there's something canine in the air; it's puppyish yet, but oh, how fast they grow. Between now and the end of July the yapping will turn to barking.

If we're lucky, we'll have howling. Our Prime Minister never does very well in these six weeks. What with the yapping and barking, he can hardly hear himself howl. You can't blame him. But don't be defeatist: try harder.

Jack Straw made a vague statement on Iraq, perhaps to announce no one had been killed there for about three-quarters of an hour. "In an address to the nation last Friday, Dr Allawi identified his government's priorities as the restoration of Iraqi sovereignty; security; economic revival; national unity." All they need is a theme tune. Can I suggest the inspiring "Things Can Only Get Better?" Maybe the Americans could play it from minarets? Think how well it worked for us.

You may have realised that the Provisional Authority, having handed over to the Governing Council, has announced an Interim Government which will be advised by a Supreme Commission to appoint a National Conference charged to elect an Interim National Council whose job it will be to advise the Council of Ministers (see above, somewhere).

These bodies, Mr Straw told the House, will be working in full partnership, resolving problems in a framework of mutual understanding (and I'm the Duchess of York). That's when it became clear that the reconstruction of Iraq has been masterminded by John Prescott. This thinking is eerily reminiscent of Labour's first taste of power. That was when Mr Prescott's super-department would demand cross-cutting local partnerships accountable to but operationally independent from the centre preserving their autonomy in strategic associations with community based initiatives. When that didn't work they shoved half a million public sector jobs into the regions and relaxed the licensing laws.

Work and Pensions earlier in the afternoon would have provided Dr Allawi a succinct glimpse of what parliamentary democracy has to offer. The secretary of state called Pond was questioned about the tension between Child Support Allowance and Income Support in view of the fact that Child Maintenance Payments weren't made to children and the implications this might have in terms of the Child Tax Credit vis-à-vis the Child Maintenance Premium. The most damaging thing I can say about this is Mr Pond had an answer for it all. Which I won't burden you with now.

So it's all ahead for Mr Allawi and the Iraqis. Good luck, bon chance. Make sure you don't forget the one essential ingredient of democracy. Highly paid, hard drinking, heavily subsidised sketch writers (with chauffeurs for their Bentleys - it's traditional).

Note: One Straw fact was interesting. The Iraqi police force numbers nearly 90,000; the Facilities Protection Service (ie, goons guarding oil installations) is nearly 75,000.

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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