Simon Carr:

The Sketch: It's claws out as the angry polecat meets Tom Brown

Share
Related Topics

Earlier this year, Vera Baird passed me by as I was talking to one of the Tories' keen young reformers and made what I can only describe as a continental noise in her throat. Kinder souls than myself explained it away, but I felt it communicated a fathomless disgust at an entire sector of modern ideological life.

After witnessing Vera in action yesterday, I'm pretty sure the kinder souls were mistaken. It was the first time I'd seen her vast, contemptuous presence lowering over the dispatch box; she leered at the opposition with a saloon bar swagger in her voice and invited them to come on if they happened to be hard enough. We'd been anaesthetised by transport questions.

Douglas Alexander did what he does so well. He had responded to one of those short, difficult questions from John Randall: "Will encouraging air travel be good or bad for the environment?" "We've always been clear," the minister began and took off into an impenetrable account of international this and multinational that in the supranational framework that means nothing will happen. But it prepared the stage for Vera "Angry Polecat" Baird in all her visceral splendour.

If this was a fight in a bar, she'd be crouched down with her stuck-out chin, roiling her mouth around like a contorted deck quoit. "Yerrghhh!" she'd be going, "Ya fwarding bhurrghafwegger!" She'd fall over a bit, to complete the picture, but drag herself up scraping the hair off her face (leaving claw marks). Simon Hughes, her opponent, was a sturdy Tom Brown's Schooldays sort of combatant. He'd help you up if he knocked you down. But if Vera found you helpless, I'm not absolutely certain she'd refrain from eating you. Not that I want to create disrespect for the political process. Vera is passionately committed to the legal aid system. What there is left of it.

And the dismantling of the criminal justice system is only to make it better. And that old judge we heard about the other day, publicly despairing of the system's ability to get defendant, witnesses and papers in the same place at the same time - he better not say anything to Vera or she'll feast on his brains. (I loved it when she said of her consultation exercise: "Mental health lawyers have no concerns at all!") The Speaker handled her with aplomb. He interrupted one raving stream of bile with the words, "It's Christmas, after all." And to a point of order from Desmond Swayne (himself a connoisseur of the full moon over Westminster) Mr Speaker said of the honourable lady: "She's come in from the courts to Parliament. She's improving but there could be more improvement." He explained he was "tutoring" junior ministers.

Merry Christmas all round.

sketch@simoncarr.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nigel Farage has urged supporters to buy Mike Read's Ukip Calypso song and push it up to the No 1 spot  

Mike Read’s Ukip calypso is mesmerisingly atrocious — but it's not racist

Matthew Norman
Shirley Shackleton, wife of late journalist Gregory Shackleton, sits next to the grave of the 'Balibo Five' in Jakarta, in 2010  

Letter from Asia: The battle for the truth behind five journalists’ deaths in Indonesia

Andrew Buncombe
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London