The Sketch: Wait for the rattle in a terminal government's throat

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The Independent Online

Listening to the colourless, featureless, undifferentiated drivel of education questions (they're getting worse again) I started to try to find something nice to say about everyone. Ruth Kelly? She has the complexion of a Botticelli heroine. Jacqui Smith and Beverley Hughes? Battle of the blondes (it's as nice as I can get). Bill Rammell? Twerp (ditto). Maria Eagle? Bond villain.

I'm exhausted now. This kindness kills me. What a gruelling session. With people like this in charge it's amazing anyone gets educated at all. "Any level of misbehaviour is too high," one of the blondes said. That was the worst. What sort of person would say such a thing? While presiding over a system where teachers are routinely assaulted by parents and children alike? Where telling a teacher to "Fuck off" is classified below "misdemeanour". Maybe Charles Clarke is right: Teachers should be armed. I'M JOKING, ALL RIGHT. Of course Charles Clarke isn't right.

David Willetts tried to get the scandale du jour into Question Time. How many city academies to be launched in the next 12 months? "Nointeen," Botticelli Kelly told us. "And how many of them will be staffed by the 1,000 released rapists, paedophiles and international illiterates?" Mr Willetts asked (my notes say) before being called out of order.

Creationism being taught in faith schools came up, and was denied. Faith schools were to be encouraged because, being a little out of the grasp of the ministerial team, they are able to teach their pupils to read and write. But is it really Tony Blair's desired outcome, that we should have all new faith schools signing up to the cadet corps scheme?

Weapons training for boys in strict, Koranic schools? "Thou shalt not permit an unbeliever to live"? Isn't that a little provocative, in combination with rifle drill?

But how little personal effect these ministers seem to have. As Vincent Cable told us, in opposition they denounce the policy that in government they implement. Charles Clarke realises Michael Howard's midnight dreams and accuses the media of poisonous cynicism. Talking in that made-up language they've got can't disguise it completely.

Edward Garnier in Business Questions asked for a debate on identity cards. He pointed out that while the Home Secretary has repeatedly ruled out putting health details on the identity register, his junior minister was suggesting that very thing. The creep has already started. Function creep, that is.

Andrew MacKay asked for a Home Office statement on foreign multi-criminals on Tuesday. But no, that statement won't happen until "all the facts are available" (minister saved by ontological perfectionism). Actually, MacKay called for a statement from Chuckles Clarke "or his successor".

It will signal the first rattle in the throat of a terminal government. The Speaker says: "Home Secretary?" and just above the despatch box peers the auburn coiffure of Hazel Blears. "Hello, everybody."

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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