The Sketch: You know, I don't think anyone knows if there's anyone in the know?

Share
Related Topics

We're going to look back on this as a golden age for observers. MPs, committees, ministers, the Chancellor in charge of £700bn of taxpayers' money – they're all waaaaay out of their depth. They don't know – but the better ones know they don't know, and the best know they can't ever know.

As these huge structures such as regional development quasi advisory partnerships get dismantled or remodelled, people will be amazed at how they were ever allowed to grow like that.

So, Rachel Reeves, a new Labour member with a financial background, asked Vince Cable how much it will cost to disestab-lish one lot of the arm's-length bodies. Would it be, as suggested, £1.4bn (and no doubt more than is to be saved in the enterprise)? Ms Reeves herself didn't know, and nor did Vince Cable. It was "complex". But he would be "very happy to share details as they emerge". The redundancy payments, the legal actions under the Equality Bill, the employment tribunals' contribution... The data, the facts, the knowledge – they're all so dispersed as to make the comprehensive spending review unknowable. How many times did Vince say "I don't know"? I don't know. But it must be said he has a concise way of relaying the information. "I'll write," or "It's a good question, I'll try to find out the answer."

Gordon Brown used to take 10 minutes to reveal he didn't know, and only by answering a completely different question.

Vince may know he doesn't know. Some new members may not have achieved such enlightenment. But well done Adrian Bailey in the chair who discovered something from his questions. Something about no allocation having been made for the Regional Growth Fund. Whether that is good or bad, useful or not – it is at least knowledge. And it's wonderful how little of that there is. It's all a work in progress. Far from knowing whether it'll turn out well, we don't know what it is.

We need a new set of questions for the future. I don't know what they are. You'd have thought someone did – but they don't.

PS: David Willetts said that the university system felt it was entering "the valley of death". I hope that wasn't a reference to the Light Brigade's charge. There were surprisingly few killed for an event popularly believed to be a wipe-out – as few as 15 per cent of the Brigade died. The tertiary sector should be delighted to suffer so little. You'd think such educated people would find better imagery.

simonsketch@twitter.com

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Gazetteer Consultant

£25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking to work for an ...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Ecommerce Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity is available to ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This world leading specialist i...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A banner supporting the NO vote in the upcoming referendum hangs from the offices of the Greek Finance Ministry on Wednesday  

Greece crisis: The Troika’s inflexibility on austerity amounts to nothing short of an attempted coup

Caroline Lucas
Chancellor George Osborne will present his post-election budget on 8th July (Getty)  

Osborne’s Budget will touch on social reform – but he’s no Lloyd George

Donald Macintyre
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy