The Sketch: The facts of life for Tony are Tory

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The Independent Online

Not moaning or anything, I'm not complaining, but these Liaison Committee sessions can't be described as "holding the Prime Minister to account". There are too many questioners and too much Prime Minister.

As a result, BBC's Question Time has more bite. Maybe they should get one of those Dimblebys to run the session? I'm only trying to be helpful.

It's not his last appearance. He's offering us one last retrospective session after he's handed over.

What "lessons have been learnt"? Ten years wielding the awesome power of the British Prime Minister. Half a trillion pounds in annual public spending. The overlord of seven million public servants. He's got enough firepower in his briefcase to put the Middle East into the Stone Age. Three invasions and a GWOT (a Global War On Terror). What's he learnt from it?

From the way he talks we can deduce he's learnt that the facts of life are Tory. The money should follow the patient and the pupil. Brighter pupils shouldn't be held back. The private sector should be brought in to compete with the public. The criminal justice system needs to be ever more punitive.

The Ministry of Defence is the best department (alone among public servants they swear to obey orders). If you are disobeyed by oil producers without modern weapons, kick the door in and smash the place up

It's been a bit of a journey. It's certainly left the Tories wondering why the facts of life abandoned them. It's clear he also senses how little as well as how much prime ministers can do.

He told us that if everyone were to have just three low energy light bulbs in their houses it would save the equivalent of the country's entire street lighting CO2 output. Obviously, he laughs, we can't go round telling people what light bulbs to use. But, as one MP testily said, we're switching the whole country over to digital television without asking them, why can't we do the same for light bulbs?

Other unlearnable lessons: Over half of all acquisitive crime is still drug-related. Education statistics justify failure even though they've been debauched by the best. And structural public service failures will be financed by "co-payments". Au fond, he hasn't developed a model of human nature that releases civic, moral and intellectual energies into the economy. He still relies on telling people what to do.

And he is still talking about "universal human values". The price for this defect is carnage. Still, at least we're not paying it. Maybe he shouldn't go. Think what he could learn in another 10 years.

simoncarr@sketch.sc

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