Wednesday, November 06, 2013

What is a Jeremy Hunt?

In the three years since this Government came to power one question has remained unanswered: 

"What is a Jeremy Hunt?"

Rhyming slang apart, readers will remember it was regularly asked when it was attached to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Then, the answer seemed to be that a Jeremy Hunt was a synonym for an acquaintance of the Great Leader Rupert Murdoch.

When Rupert went belly-up it was naturally assumed that the JH, undistinguished in the role of cultural impresario, would follow suit. It was therefore with general astonishment it re-appeared with the title of Secretary of State for Health.

Having been a contemporary of Dave and Boris at Oxford, the unkind wondered if there were photographs of that time to explain the continued investment in the JH. And these were the questions once again to the fore as the JH made an enforced appearance at Prime Ministers Questions. He knew he had to be there since recent fright stories about the state of the A&E departments at the nations hospitals this winter made the subject a shoe-in for Labour at PMQs.

Not to disappoint, Ed Miliband was onto Dave, almost before he got his breath, to demand the plans of the man who said the NHS was safe in his hands. Now, as we know, PMQs is not the place to ask questions, but Ed - ignoring tradition - has developed a nasty habit of not only asking them but including detail.

This is seen to be unfair on the Tory benches who are aware, as this column revealed,  that the PM suffers from DDDD - Dave Doesn't Do Detail. With this in mind, a question about NHS bosses who had taken redundo and then got another health job could only have one result, the levitation of Dave.

As the PM began his slow ascent, camera's cut to the cause, the Jeremy Hunt, desperately trying to climb into the breast pocket of his neighbour Owen Paterson. Jeremy had positioned himself as near as decently possible to the door but Mr Paterson seemed to be parked next to him to prevent escape.

And so, as the PM floundered, his Health Secretary decided vertical and horizontal head movements - avoiding any eye contact  - would be his only salvation. Earlier Dave had tried to head off any ambush with a Von Schlieffen manoeuvre (got to be worth a Google) involving Falkirk and Labour's dirty dealings. But, the plan collapsed before it began when the hapless back bencher chosen by Central Office to launch it, forgot what he'd been told to say.

With Labour MP's now in full halloo, the leash was also slipped on the Shadow Chancellor who started to happily munch on Dave's ankles. But, even Ed B paused momentarily as Speaker Bercow decided to join in the fun and games.

Although a Tory MP, the Speaker now occupies a place in his party's affections to the left of that taken by union leader Len McCluskey. Len, for whom the Tory Party will be eternally grateful, is if course Gen Sec of Unite, up to its fetlocks in Falkirk.

Like Len, Mr Bercow, clearly holds Prime Minister Dave in less than awe - a feeling totally reciprocated by his one-time leader. Twice the Speaker interrupted the PM to set him straight, even suggesting he tried to remember the question he had been asked.

Dave, who didn't get where he is today by answering questions, could only stare agog at the cheek of it.  Down the front bench, past the Foreign Secretary's indifference and Chancellor George's new haircut, the JH froze.

Even the farmyard impressions went momentarily quiet as both sides ruminated over the suggestion that questions should be answered. It only took a few seconds for that revolutionary thought to be extinguished an Google was again invoked by Tory MPs looking up assassination on their tablets.

Luckily Speaker Bercow lives on the premises, but the JH has to walk home.