Dr John Reid and His World of Structuralism ; THE SKETCH

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By a happy series of events and circumstances, David Davis has managed to frustrate the Peter Principle by failing (repeatedly failing, in fact) to rise to his level of incompetence.

His great triumph is to remain shadow Home Secretary. Sacked, bounced, dumped, he is the most successful Tory parliamentarian since the Fall.

His darting questions are a great relief from Home Secretary Jimmy Reid's grindingly slow vacuities. The number of pupils carrying knives in school has doubled, David Davis said, and yet there are only six relevant convictions a year. So when would all at- risk schools have the resources to screen for knives?

Jimmy began by scoring a political point: "the public is more interested in solutions than political point scoring," he told us with his particularly nauseating blend of self-righteousness and self-satisfaction before proceeding to an answer irrelevant even by his own high academic standards: the use of knives in homicides has stayed roughly stable over the past seven years, he said. Then he called for cross-party support. By which he means an end to criticism.

A Tory pointed out that you could get a longer sentence for stealing a bicycle than for carrying a knife. "The honourable member would want to be as honest as possible in talking about this," Jimmy began, implying, I suppose that this was an entirely false picture. Then he reiterated the Torypoint in his own interminable way.

He clinched his argument by saying that you could, in fact, get life imprisonment for carrying a knife (but that you'd have to kill someone with it first). …