The Sketch: Why have we entrusted tens of billions to the likes of Gobbing and Blears?

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The Independent Online

How much does the Home Office spend a year? Billions. Tens of billions. Its budget is bigger than Britain's biggest company. Yet it is run - or fronted - by a collection of sub-standard suck-ups who shouldn't be running the sanitation department of our smallest local authority. How these bench-monkeys came to be board directors of (as it were) one of Britain's biggest multibillion-pound companies simply beggars belief.

They're the new lot, as well. They replaced the old lot. You'd think they might be a better lot. The most junior of the new ones is called Gobbing. I think he's called Gobbing. If he's not called Gobbing he should be. He has been made something or other. It was his birthday.

Three young women have also been promoted, one of whom it was possible to recognise. Hazel Blears. She was in Health for half an hour, now she's in Home. But why, in the name of suffering humanity, why? It is only another example of the current era of the Prime Minister's malevolence.

Anyway, Hazel Blears told the House that "joined-up effective policing is our top priority". What pitiful rubbish they feel they have to talk when they get to the dispatch box, what useless, hopeless drivel.

One of the other new ones amused us for a moment by saying: "The Scottish Executive takes drugs." That made us sit up. Then she said: "Very seriously." She said it again later on with a grave expression on her face (her expressions are going to take a lot of work). "We take this very seriously. Hard drugs cause damage to people."

What kind of a system do we have where people like this are put in positions like that to say things like these? The Government must be entering the final phase of its useful life.

Oliver Letwin - who, in this company appears as a titan of governmental experience and expertise - asked a question of the one who may or may not be called Gobbing. The Prime Minister had made a pledge, he said, to halve the time between an offender's arrest and sentence being passed. The figures that purport to show this pledge being kept were false. The pledge had been redefined as the time between arrest and appearing in court - a different thing.

Gobbing said blandly that the pledge was being kept, and that the 140 days delay under the Tories had been reduced to 70 days. Mr Letwin pointed out that the pledge had been fundamentally modified. Meanwhile, he went on, the statutory time limits relating to this matter were being quietly abolished. (Members: "Ahhhh!")

"Can I explain," Gobbing rejoined, "that the pledge and the time limits are entirely different ... the fact that we are removing the time pledge does not remove the need for timeliness in the criminal justice system."

The Sketch is occasionally accused of cynicism. Exchanges like these demonstrate that it is essential, if we want to preserve any civic sense of balance and indeed of personal mental health, that nothing these people say be taken at face value.

In matters large, small or invisible, their relationship with the truth is entirely contingent.