The Sketch: Minister multiplies the linguistic count. She talks too much

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The Independent Online

Patricia Hewitt is slipping back into her old role of dental hygienist. Perhaps that's too mean. She's the manager of a strategy for dental hygienists in a regional diversity outreach programme with overarching reference to its sustainability.

Because she hasn't anything to say, she uses two words where one would do. That is, she invariably utilises double the discrete verbal units that objective observers have calculated are necessary for the purpose in hand that she is engaged in at any one time.

For the avoidance of doubt, numerous commentating professionals, including but not limited to myself, have prayed in aid of the fact that the Secretary of State for the Department of Trade and Industry seems unable or unwilling to do anything other than multiply the quantity of unitary linguistic signifiers that - are you sick of this yet? My clothes are covered in it, and it isn't even drinks time.

The Speaker got so disgusted by the drivel he threw a haggis at her; got her right in the mouth and she had to sit down, gagging. Or did I dream it?

She was talking about the Post Office Reinvention Programme. You know that's got to be some filthy, rotten, bureaucratic scheme with a name like that.

They'd call a slaughterhouse a Blood Pressure Reduction Clinic. When did they name the Ministry of War the Ministry of Defence, come to that? And when will they rename it the Ministry of Democratic Normalisation? It turns out the Post Office Reinvention Programme is in charge of closing down post offices. But you'd already guessed that.

The chairman of the select committee stood up two rows behind the minister and gave her both barrels. The minister was "complacent". Her programme was a "shambles". Her thinking was "far too narrow". It was "not right". And his committee had established an unprecedented degree of cross-party unanimity in recommending she tear her head off and use it for tenpin bowling. Hang on, I'd nodded off again. But what a magnificent piece of parliamentary diatribe it was, and from her own side.

Oh how grateful she was, and, oh, how carefully she was going to study the report and, my, how significant the improvements to the process were going to be. Lindsay Hoyle then stood up, gargling with indignation about the "urban destruction" it was causing, that she'd been "massaging the figures" and that it was "an absolute disgrace".

Oh, she crooned, "I cannot accept his interpretation of the Urban Reinvention programme." Previously, post offices had been "closing in an unplanned way". She was closing them in a planned way.

One of her off-siders came up with a better line. To make the case that change was essential he said: "If there were no change there would be no post offices." To save the village, we had to destroy it.

Ms Hewitt said she would write to the MP. She'd better have it delivered by hand.