The Sketch: Will Tessa be evicted by Big Gordon?

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The Independent Online

In the absence of anything happening, the temptation to play no-win games is hard to resist. You look down into the pit and note, almost with fear, how thin on top Owen Paterson is getting. He used to be one of those nice young men the Tories did so well, and now he's old enough to be losing his hair. Maybe he'll get fat and then we'll really feel the throb of time passing. I've got a little Latin: Eheu fugaces, postume, postume. "The days flee away and are lost to me, lost to me."

Which brings Tessa into focus, through the fug of Culture questions. Who will be the first to be voted out when the new Big Brother comes in? I bet it's her. It's too tempting. Gordon will take the metal point of his moral compass and jab it in her bottom.

She it was, if you remember, who fixed the tobacco advertising for Bernie Ecclestone's million. She's been canoodling with American gambling interests. She's followed her master's voice with loyalty verging on devotion. Indeed, the only time I've ever seen her actually effective was when she defended Cherie's Bristol flats to Paxman. She silenced him. And the rest of us too, come to that. "Oot y'go, lassie!"

Of course, if she was better at the ministerial thing it might be different but she has never come across as anything except Joan Ryan with a better line in bluster.

Will VAT be applied to the Olympic infrastructure? She says: "It isn't an issue for the taxpayer. The issue is managing where the responsibility for the VAT sits." That's a remark that comes as close to nothing as modern metaphysics allows us. If the Olympics is VAT-free, are schools and hospitals VAT-free as well? And if not, why not?

God, I hate the word "vulnerable". It's like when politicians use "community" you know they mean "constituency". "Vulnerable" means "voter". Both parties were drooling over the vulnerable yesterday, swearing that "no one would be left behind" in a way that reminded you of the fall of Saigon.

They were only talking about the switchover to digital television, pledging a multimillion-pound information programme so "vulnerable groups" like "old people" wouldn't be left behind to rot in darkened rooms while jackals eat their hearts.

Why should hundreds of millions be spent on absurd information campaigns telling people how to do the simplest things?

If televisions stop working, everyone knows what to do. You ring up Currys. Then you buy a digital box for £20 and hire a 12-year-old to plug it in for you. It's what I do. It's not something that needs £100m spent on it.

sketch@simoncarr.co.uk

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