Take a breath everyone. This next sentence is not quite what it seems. Every time I look at Jeremy Hunt I think about sex. See? People are already jumping to conclusions. No, not that. The people who lust after Jeremy belong to a rare category of probably damaged human beings and I am glad to say that it does not include me. First, Jeremy makes me think of sex because he has that empty headed fervour that reminds you of sixties hippies who believed that all they had to do was take off the clothes and make love to everyone and communal bliss would follow. Hunt has the same naive faith in neo-liberalism. What we need to do is remove employee protection and health and safety regulations and we can all walk naked, our muscles bristling with economic purpose, towards fulfilment. The fact that some bodies do not bristle quite as attractively as others does not matter. It is his own that concerns him which may be why this narcissist spends so much time jogging and dancing the lambada. Second, he is a reminder of how the male libido can have unintended consequences. We all know that, before he met Cherie, Tony Blair was a vacant extrovert without any real interest beyond being famous and popular. A woman and his own sexual urges led him almost without thinking towards left wing politics and a position where he could finally indulge his talents as an insincere performer. So, sex is important when we think of Mr Blair, as anybody who has read ‘Ghost’ by Robert Harris will know, and it is the connection between Blair and Hunt that makes me think of sex. I never see Jeremy Hunt without thinking of Tony Blair.
If Blair is the corrupt individual that haunts every left wing soul with a conscience, there is now some compensation. Jeremy Hunt is what Tony Blair would have been with a less complicated libido. Hunt is what a Tory Tony Blair would sound and look like. These are men whose only concern is personal glory, men who somehow think they can romantically sweep away all social problems. Tony Blair talked about the welfare state as if he could abolish sickness, and he dreamed that equality could be resolved simply through education. The plan was that after 15 years of Tony nobody would ever be weak or fragile again. It was baloney, of course, but Tony prayed to God and he had faith and the sun even shone on that fateful day in 1997 when he shook so many hands.
Dangerous romance is invariably rooted in a too strong attachment to adolescence. It was obvious in Blair and it defines Jeremy Hunt. These are men who will struggle to grow old. Hunt, of course, was head boy at Charterhouse, so his attachment to his own adolescence is understandable. And, presumably, there would have been some sunny days on its cricket fields. Romance would have been in the air on more than one occasion. Unfortunately, this romance festers on exclusivity and privilege. If it inspired some of the more fluent passages in ‘Brideshead Revisited’ it was also responsible for some of the silliest writing of Evelyn Waugh. Despite its popularity ‘Brideshead’ is far from being his best book. This is ‘A Handful Of Dust’. Waugh was a brilliant cynic but his intelligence floundered when he became sentimental. Hunt, of course, is no Evelyn Waugh. All he had in his vain dreams was neo-liberalism and self-serving economic theory. And he needed to be popular. We all know how Head Boys and Head Girls are not inclined to rebel. This is why we do not like them. It is why rock and roll and Elvis became so entrenched. He and the other rockers were the alternative. You could either become a teacher’s pet or grow sideburns. Later, rock and roll raised the stakes. Sideburns were insufficient and wild coloured hair and facial jewellery became essential. But if the rebellion has sometimes been silly, remember what the rebellion is against. That’s right, people like Jeremy Hunt.
The good news is that a Tory Tony Blair is so much worse than a Labour Tony Blair. If Hunt has a redeeming feature it is beyond most commentators. The assertion by David Cameron that Jeremy Hunt was doing ‘a good job as Culture Secretary’ sounded like it belonged in an episode of the TV series on the Titanic. Admittedly, these are difficult times and Rupert Fosters Confucius Murdoch is a loose cannon but it takes an awful lot of wrong-headed incompetence to fail as a Culture Secretary. No doubt there will be people who think Cameron has been unlucky in his choice of friends and that he has been let down by someone whose judgement is not as sound as his own. But what did he expect, appointing, to evaluate impartially the bid by Murdoch, a man who described himself as a cheerleader for BskyB. Well, guess what, he was not impartial, or as David and his look alike Captain Pugwash would say, ‘Shiver me timbers.’ The notion that a special advisor would send 150 emails without the minister knowing is simply absurd. My own career as a Civil Servant was modest but I did occasionally meet mandarins from Whitehall. These people are programmed not to say more than two sentences without using the words, ‘The minister says/thinks/wants/believes etc.’ Remember the number, 150 emails, and think of what Cameron claimed. ‘He is doing a good job.’ This is the best comedy show on the TV. Is satire dead? I would hate to have to listen to its bronchial tubes. The sound of suffocation is too eerie.
Perhaps, Jeremy Hunt has strengths. He may be pitifully weak on compassion for those less fortunate but there is always a chance that the ideals of Charterhouse left him with a strong sense of integrity. Well, he refuses to resign or walk so I can only assume he did not captain the cricket team. Those who are generous also overlook his placing of Naomi Gummer, his former Parliamentary Assistant, within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport after Hunt had proposed departmental cuts of 35-50%. Notice their jobs are not cut, merely those of the rest of us. He also had to refund parliamentary expenses that he had incorrectly claimed. If his errors were modest compared to some MPs he stands condemned because of his attachment to high minded romance. A man who eschews pragmatism should not expect it in return when his failures are being accounted.
Finally, we are left with a man who decided that the Hillsborough disaster was the result of football hooliganism. What qualified him for this opinion? Well, nothing because he never researched the subject. Blog readers will know that I am a Liverpool football fan. So, if this blog has been more personal than some perhaps readers will now understand why. You can take the boy out of Charterhouse but you cannot take Charterhouse out of the boy. Head boys? If he was a rock and roll star he would be in The Bay City Rollers, smiling according to instructions. No, give me Elvis instead. That’s why he was invented. We will always need our alternatives to pious, corrupt courtiers who when they are not passing glib judgements on the rest of us are bending at the knee.