The Sketch: She was indignant, as if accused of doing something wrong

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The Independent Online

It was too much to hope for, that she'd resign on aesthetic grounds, so we can only resort to abuse about the way she speaks and the sort of things she says. "But you make it sound like a chore!" (Simpsons' fans, no postcards, please).

Minister Kelly talks like those mix'n'match platform announcements; random full stops indicate a join: "Nothing. Matters. To parents. More." Sometimes she used inverted commas to show she really, really means it, as in"automatically barred". Then there's the me, me, me of her statement: I will require. I have concluded. I have decided. I will legislate. It's a form of words she used sparingly last week, in the period when she might have said: "I have signed a paedo in Speedos to teach gym in secondary schools."

And there's the indignant voice, as if she had been accused of doing something wrong. Finally, there's what she says: protecting children from paedophiles is now going to be the absolute top priority for the Government. Children will come out of school unable to read, write or multiply two by two, but the first educational priority for them will have been triumphantly fulfilled: unsodomised! Well done everyone!

Incidentally, there was not a word of what you might call apology. Not even an admission of error. Much had been done but there was always more to do. And she was the woman to do it! She was going to put a statutory duty on headteachers to check with the Criminal Records Bureau. "Mandatory checks" will replace "strong guidance" (if they'd been doing their job none of this would have been necessary, you see).

Gawky David Willetts put in a dismal performance. He went all victim-friendly and made a sad face about the blow that had been dealt to parents by the affair. (Have you been terribly worried this last racked week about the looming threat? Neither have I.) He had a promising line about the fact that she was now legislating against her own behaviour but he never developed it. And most damagingly, he sounded like an old-style, pre-Cameron, debating hall, political professional. He has no reach into the emotional core, he has no touch. He's like an adviser; but then Ruth Kelly is like an adviser, they're a match. As soon as he started his attack: "It is a pity that...", Labour piled on their equally formulaic noises of support and the Tories were lost.

One good thing: Barry Sheerman (education committee chairman) stood up and people groaned.

Finally, we can say that the press has come out of it rather well. If all these measures are as necessary as Ruth Kelly says they are then it's entirely due to media hysteria.

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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