Listening to Home Office questions and catching a bit of Patricia Hewitt's party piece on Enterprise and Emetics, it occurred to me why people vote for Jean-Marie Le Pen. It's the language these ignorant, arrogant, clapped-out, over-promoted, jargon-jabbering, morally incompetent, intellectually fetid, Paul-paying, Peter-robbing hucksters use as they administer the biggest budget in the British economy.
It's a dead language they use, much deader than Latin. It's a private language used to exclude outsiders. It's an eggy-peggy sign system that – at its most rudimentary – allows David Blunkett to speak without beginning, without end, without saying anything at all. Mr Blunkett is John Prescott without the grammar. His gobbets float away on the dark tide of his personality. He was a person once, rumour has it; he's gone now, oh well gone.
Poor John Denham is another casualty. He was a person too, just a couple of years ago. Now listen to him: "This is part of the process of spreading excellence across the country so that best practice will be available to all." How dare he? What about: "Anti-social behaviour orders work best when there is clear understanding in every part of the criminal justice system"? Does he know who he's talking to? Beverley Hughes is just starting. She was discussing "dangerousness". She referred to people "who are personality disordered". Who do they think we are?
Would Oliver Letwin let that happen to himself? Is it the air conditioning in the Home Office that turns home secretaries into creatures of the night? Mr Letwin is a pleasure to listen to, as everyone (almost everyone) agrees. There's some sort of police Bill going through the House, which allows David Blunkett to seize control of police forces that fail to meet targets set by David Blunkett. It's the same principle used by Alan Milburn, who'll be diving in to pick up the bedpans when his health trusts fail. Mr Letwin observed the Government was spending half its time denying it was centralising power and half its time justifying it. Deft, urbane, unexpected. It'd be a disaster if he became home secretary. I mean that in the nicest possible way.
Fiona MacTaggart told the House that she was a big, bossy, self-important ex-head of Cheltenham Ladies' College and that she hadn't pulled an interesting idea out of her sawdust since 1957. I can't remember her exact words but that was the gist of it. She found widespread agreement.
John Horam from Orpington said police numbers had fallen in his area in the past year and that they'd had a 150 per cent crime rise. Why oh why, he asked, should Orpington pay more in tax for fewer police officers while crime got worse. He was told to mind his own business, as far as I could tell.
Piara Khabra asked the most hopeless question of the day. He mentioned there had been crimes committed in his "particularly unique constituency". What did he want? More resources. That's not all Mr Khabra wants. Public speaking lessons would be high on the list of priorities.
You learn things inadvertently. Ms Hewitt told us that 150,000 small businesses will now pay no corporation tax at all. You have to work out why they don't pay corporation tax: they don't make any profit.
Some cloth-for-brains told us that a "key driver" in productivity growth was Gordon Brown's billions for the NHS. It would, hessian-head said, "enormously improve productivity". It was Patricia Hewitt's chance to show what she was made of. She took it with both hands. "Absolutely right," she said.
Such are the people in charge of spending £400bn a year of taxpayers' money.Reuse content