The Sketch: Words mean only what we want them to mean. So they're f****d

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The Independent Online

It seems the civil servant in charge of the Jo Moore row reacted to the unraveling government strategy by saying: "I'm f****d, you're f****d, it's f****d, we're all f****d." It was an ambiguous way of declaring oneself to be finished, but that Sir Humphrey can conjure strange new material out of the shadowland that exists between words and what the words mean.

"In a highly charged political atmosphere," he famously declared during the Clive Ponting whistle-blower trial, "one man's fact is another man's ambiguity." His example has long been carried over into Parliament.

Tory John Greenway pointed out that 80 per cent of visitors to British tourist attractions were British. Was there no part of the Government's new £5m campaign to encourage domestic demand? Tessa Jowell said: "F****, I am d****d this p******l has a******d such c**** p***y s*****t." She went on: "We need more f****d marketing and we are d********g with g****s how that may be achieved." Sidney Chapman made a Wembley point. Excluding athletics from the stadium design was a disastrous mistake, he thought. Did she agree? Ms Jowell suddenly became less forthright. "The design of the stadium is athletics-capable," she told the House. So would people be able to conduct athletics events at Wembley?

"There is a difference," she said to Tory cheers, "between being athletically-capable and actually being able to host athletic events." She had no more to say, so concluded with these words: "If the stadium is not a stadium. That can host athletic events the money will have to be returned. So in order that we can complete negotiations and settle the stadium project once and for all, those discussions apparently under way and I've made quite clear that it's a condition of finalising Government support for the national stadium project that the position in relation to athletics is clarified."

The other-wordliness of the arts ministers is refreshing. Kim Howells chided banks for not investing more in British films. "Film can often be a very, very good investment," he said, and banks should make sure they were distributed as well. It's why politicians shouldn't be allowed to use the word investment. To Derek Wyatt's plea for advice about how to attract visitors to Europe's largest wetlands (they're in his constituency: Lord, how Sheppey needs plumbers), Ms Jowell said: "A more aggressive approach to marketing" was necessary. Perhaps with a slogan like: "F***** get your a*******s into S*****y you w*****s!"

Gregory Barker asked whether the services parading during the Queen's Jubilee would have bayonets and shining breastplates. Or, considering the reputation of the Household Cavalry, with their b*****s and s***** b******s. Tessa said: "It's not for the Government to tell people how to enjoy themselves." Who knows if she's cleared this new policy direction with Downing Street? Select committee chair Gerald Kaufman (hell-cat) demanded to know whether legal proceedings against the Wembley contractors would be instituted if they hadn't started by April.

My word, she gave it to him between the eyes: "**** ******* ****** ** ***** *********!" Astonishing! If Tessa Jowell didn't exist, there's no way of finishing this sentence.