The Sketch: I'm just too gutless to abuse people who might cut off my writing hand

Add to this general sense of despondency the fact that the instruments are written in Oligarch English (it's very hard opposing something you can't understand). Subclauses rolled over us, bracketed, small Roman numerals, and Patrick Mercer, the Tory going in his loud, decent, rather stupid voice: "What!"

It all changed when Richard Shepherd got in (beckoned, in a rare moment of grace, by Minister McNulty). He disagreed violently with the whole thing. His voice always shakes a little, as though he's about to burst into tears and that made his intervention more effective than it might otherwise be. "RIPA was extremely controversial, it gave enormous powers to central authority, the powers available are phenomenal. For instance, why does the ... Driving Standards Authority need access to these extraordinary powers?" he asked. Bloody hell, was that what was going on? The Driving Standards Agency is going to have full covert surveillance powers handed to them? You hardly notice these things, the way they're presented, in these galley-slave committee rooms where no one willingly goes. "It represents a very considerable expansion of the original intention of the Act into the ordinary concourse of our lives," Shepherd said. That was a particularly nice phrase, "the ordinary concourse of our lives".

McNulty's attitude is that "if these powers help to deter crime, they must be a good thing". That's a commanding principle on which to base legislation. I'm not saying we will be cutting off hands to deter pickpockets, I'm just saying that if any powers that deter crime are a good thing then we should be cutting off hands all over Britain.

Michael Gove got in a well-modulated dig at the Muslim Council of Britain who had invited over two jihad-crazy clerics. They had called this lot "pigs and monkeys", that lot "idol-worshippers" and that US troops should be sent home in coffins unless they converted to Islam.

I was working myself up into a sympathetic lather at these vile libels when I realised that I routinely liken politicians to monkeys, and was at that exact moment noting that Theresa May was waiting for her turn at the trough. Oh, and more than necessary about Richard Bacon, yesterday. However, I am just too gutless to issue the same sort of abuse at people who might cut off my writing hand. See? McNulty's right after all.

sketch@simoncarr.co.uk

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