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Friday 1 June 2012

Hunt Chased Out?

[Update at end of post]

What a difference Phonehackgate has made to the behaviour of newspapers and their pundits: beforehand, the silence of Omerta was more or less complete, and that the deeply subversive Guardian ran a media column was deemed to be A Very Bad Thing Indeed. One did not talk about others who scrabbled around the dunghill that is Grubstreet. Not any more.

David Cameron's put his hand up your what?!?

Nowhere is this more visible than at the two titles fighting for the profitable middle market, the Daily Mail and Maily Telegraph (I exempt the Express because, well, it’s not a credible or serious newspaper any more). Both are now more than happy to talk about other titles, especially when they are run by Rupe’s troops, and even moreso when a connection with the blessed Tone can be established.

Hence the Mail devising the “Number 10/News International axis”. The Tel has also weighed in against the Murdochs. And now has come the frankly lamentable performance yesterday by Jeremy Hunt the Culture Secretary (imagine Janet Street Expletive Deleteding Porter saying it, it’s easier to avoid the Spoonerism), with the prospect that he may be next to exit the Cabinet.

Young Dave has given Hunt the all-clear, but the voices of Middle England are not assuaged. “Telegraph View”, in other words today’s editorial, has taken a dim view: “Murdoch’s many friends were far too obliging” it notes, continuing by telling that Hunt “may not have broken the letter of the ministerial code over News Corporation’s bid for BSkyB, but he shattered its spirit”.

It goes on “it is clear Mr Hunt was being disingenuous” and concludes its observations on the Culture Secretary’s blatant partiality towards the Murdochs by simply stating “This will not do”. But the Tel is subtlety personified compared to Daily Mail Comment, the authentic voice of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre. “Cameron, BSkyB and a very grubby affair” sets the mood at the outset.

The Mail editorial picks over the replacement of Vince Cable with Hunt, the personal involvement of Young Dave with his jolly good near neighbours the Brooks, and Cameron’s decision not to refer Hunt’s conduct as a potential breach of the ministerial code. It concludes “by continuing to cling to Mr Hunt, who should have resigned in April, Mr Cameron is making this sorry affair even worse”.

That means Dacre says he should go. Sadly, the message didn’t get though to toadying sketch writer Quentin Letts (let’s not) who goes through the spin-for-the-Tory-at-all-costs routine instead. To follow the evidence at Leveson was “harder than Old Norse”. No it wasn’t, Quent, Hunt was dire, Jay put more skewers through him than a busy night at a kebab shop, and he’s finished. Listen to your boss.

Expect open season on Hunt to continue after a brief Jubilee weekend break.

[UPDATE 3 June 1100 hours: the Mail didn't wait for the Jubilee celebrations to end, instead giving Hunt yet more handy hints as regards his preferred route through the exit door before the Thames Pageant gets going.

Suzanne Moore gets top billing on RightMinds from its preposterously puffed-up editor Simon Heffer, telling readers that "I wouldn't let Hunt judge a game of tiddlywinks", a sport that many younger readers may not have heard of. She follows the lead of the Telegraph, asserting that Hunt broke the spirit of the ministerial code.

Moreover, as she points out, he appears to have managed simultaneously to have misled Parliament and dropped the Chancellor of the Exchequer in it big time. And her view is backed up by Luke Turner, who reveals just how brilliant a businessman Hunt was not, referring to him as an "affable lummox".

Turner also reinforces the "posh boys" stereotype, which appears to be gaining traction, telling that working with Hunt "gave me an idea of the kind of Government we currently have, run by people like him who have privileged backgrounds and have barged their way through life not on merit or ability, but by birth".

Expect more in that vein, as meritocracy is part of what makes the Mail's "Kind Of People", while what Turner describes certainly does not]

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