The Sketch: Simon Carr

Watch that David Blunkett: he's kicking hand grenades at an open goal
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The Independent Online

The Home Secretary, Mr Blunkett, deserves greater attention and, possibly, help from linguistic therapists. Here are three of his recent announcements in the House of Commons.

"Although it is late, I want to finish on a positive note."

Why did he say that? I want to know what it means. I don't think I am alone.

How about: "If someone blows a raspberry in my ear, I am inclined to blow my mouth organ a little louder."

He should be careful about saying that in certain states of America; I'm pretty sure what he's referring to is illegal in South Dakota.

And finally: "Well, you only fire at an open goal when you discover that it is a hand grenade that you are kicking rather than the ball."

No Albanian proverb could be more evocative. But what it evokes will be very different, from one person to another. What it evokes in me is the thought that the Home Secretary needs help.

Home Office questions was a disgrace. Everyone except Sidney Chapman behaved abominably. They should all be extradited. Fast tracked. Shipped to a third-party country. Locked up in a standing-room-only cell with no latrine, until they just stop talking.

Essex dog owner Andrew Rosindell declared that the crime rate and yob culture in his constituency had almost disappeared since he got elected. But the crime rate and yob culture of parliament had risen by almost the same amount. I may have dreamt all that.

A Tory demanded that BB guns be banned. BB guns are toys that my boys run around the house firing at each other. What are Tory MPs doing, wanting to ban BB guns? Why do they hate us?

A Welsh member whose name consists of far too many Ls, two Ws and a silent Y stood up. The Y is the only silent thing about him. He opened and closed his mouth for nearly a minute. Unforgiveable.

Beverley Hughes and Maria Eagle, under secretaries of state for Hogwash and Balderdash, said absolutely nothing at all. Over and over again they didn't say anything, on and on they went saying nothing in dead voices, evacuated of all human characteristics.

They were questioned about life, death, drugs, sex crimes, violence, filth, horror, assault, destruction, murder, torture, justice and traffic wardens. There was enough there to keep 30 per cent of British novelists in material for the rest of their writing lives.

And to every question they said: "This is precisely why we have created a strategic plan allowing progress in performance indicators ensuring our package of measures will outline the potential use of multi-agency protection panels to show the best way forward of more effective employee training strategies across a wide range of agencies."

They set the bar high, these junior ministers. Estelle Morris is going to have to raise her game. Or increase her strategic output levels of blithering drivel by 8.65 million per cent. Maria Eagle finessed everyone with her final remarks about social exclusion. It was up to the government, she said, to build a sense of belonging in people. The Active Community Unit was going to do it.

"Young people," she said, "are too often seen as a problem. But they are the future. We all gain when they realise society is made better by their involvement."

There's no excuse for that.

"The possession of any illegal drug is illegal," we were told. But how else are we to cope with Home Office questions?