The Sketch: We can't understand them and they don't want us to

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The Independent Online

Ahhh, now I understand. This is an unusually boring conference, that's what's interesting about it.

The security is almost reasonable, there are no hovering choppers or howling dogs. Only one 80-year-old has been manhandled out of the hall. Iraq has been kept off the floor. Delegates have had bags of sweets confiscated before entering (They can be used as missiles, one of the security characters explained menacingly). Nothing's happening at all, beyond a little third-term therapy.

The mainstream fringe meetings have been fetid with torpor. In a debate on civil liberties, Hazel Blears laid before us the chirpy vulgarity of her mental processes (thinking is too strong a word for it). You stop listening out of self-defence. It's why political dialogue has turned into monologue. People fear they'll be polluted by contact with this sort of behaviour. That's why benefits aren't taken up, and why voter turn-out is down.

Elsewhere, Patricia Hewitt and David Alexander talked about how to reconnect people with the political process. Endlessly. People are to be bored into acquiescence, right across the receiving end of government.

Jacqui Smith on vocational qualifications? Effortless extrusion of all-purpose blether. Ed Balls, Ruth Kelly and David Miliband (I fear he is lost to us now)? They gave us an hour of rolling rubbish at The Independent fringe.

We can only assume it was unbearable because it was impenetrable. The political class defends itself very strongly against outsiders by this kind of language. If you can't understand it you're out of the argument.

In a 10-minute speech in the hall, Ruth Kelly used the vocative of the word 'Conference' no fewer than 25 times. I can't interpret that for you but I feel it needs recording. She made an offer she has no intention of honouring: "To those who say Sure Start is a waste of money, I say come with me to any Sure Start centre and I will show you the children whose lives are being transformed." Do you want her mobile number to make an appointment?

"Some schools have failed their pupils not just for years but for generations." That's an amazing idea and, once grasped, undermines these state-sponsored pieties. Private companies can't fail their customers for years, certainly not for generations.

The sinister element in all this is the measured indifference to the decencies of public intercourse. The political class is ever more sure of itself. The oligarchy has realised it doesn't have to make itself understood.

simoncarr75hotmail.com

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