PARLIAMENT & POLITICS: The Sketch - Useless, in Any Language. Even Sign Language

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I REALLY must apologise for the downhill trend in the tone of this column. Please cover your eyes if you wish to read further.

A Tory spokesperson used the word "bullshit" while seated on the front bench of the House of Commons. Ghastly breach of parliamentary convention. Unprecedented in the Sketch's experience. The Speaker took no action, of course, because he's a useless Speaker. He didn't even recognise the word. He's so defective. At the very least he needs a course in sign language. Did I mention the word was used in sign language?

You can make the sign for this word "bullshit" at home. It goes as follows. Your forearms are held in front of you and placed one on top of the other, a clenched fist at each elbow. The forefinger and little finger of the upper hand are raised (these represent horns). Then the fingers of the other hand, the under-hand, open sharply, straight down. That's what the front bench spokesperson was doing while Clare Short denied criticising America.

But then behaviour is in decline all over the House. Labour benches greet all questioners, but particularly Tories, with derisive laughter, jeers, northern club heckling, groans and animal noises. (Henry Bellingham gets a series of "Pocks!" from the Labour benches, referring to his weakness for pheasant shooting).

James Paice asked somewhat clumsily perhaps: "I wonder if the Prime Minister is aware of a single mother in my constituency who needs a hysterectomy?" The rest of the question was lost in laughter, heartless laughter it seemed to the Sketch.

Someone called Iain Duncan Smith asked about a shareholder in Railtrack. …