How can one have faith in the democratic process and the ruling elite when such a man is passing judgment as health secretary?
Jeremy Hunt, in whom the BMA today passed a motion of no confidence, epitomises the decadent, hypocritical and toxic nature of our ruling elite. Hearing him pass judgement on the managerial failures of health service staff is like appointing Jeremy Forrest, the teacher recently convicted of underage sex with a pupil, as an Old Bailey judge of such cases.
Shortly after Hunt was promoted to health secretary, he lambasted the key figures in the Mid-Staffordshire hospital scandal. Last week he expressed disgust at incompetence and corruption of the Care Quality Commission.
This is the same Hunt whose special adviser, Adam Smith, exchanged dozens of emails, texts and telephone calls with Frédéric Michel, the BSkyB consultant. As secretary of state for culture, Olympics, media and sport, Hunt was supposed to be occupying a quasi-judicial role in regard to Rupert Murdoch's attempt to regain control of BSkyB. But the staggering truth was that Smith had been passing confidential and market-sensitive information to Michel on a daily basis for months. Undeniably, conspiring with Michel to help Murdoch achieve his goal, Smith passed him "absolutely illegal" data.
Confronted with all this at the Leveson inquiry, Hunt claimed he had no idea it was going on. Special advisers are handpicked by their ministers, not the civil service. The adviser's utterances are regarded as almost indistinguishable from those of their boss. They are more up close and privy to what is really going on in a minister's mind than anyone. Furthermore, the ministerial code is pedantically explicit about the minister's total accountability for all the special adviser's actions.
This leaves us with only two conceivable possibilities regarding Hunt's claim. The first is that Hunt is a bare-faced liar: he knew precisely what Smith was doing, and in fact was the origin of many of the communications - Smith was merely doing his minister's bidding. The second is that Hunt was telling the truth, in which case, he is not only a lousy judge of who to employ, he was a spectacularly incompetent manager. Either way, he should have been sacked on the spot, not promoted to a position which required credibility when pronouncing on the competence of health service managers.
The Hunt saga really does cause any thinking person to lose what shred of faith they may still have in the ruling elite and the democratic process. If a minister can be shown to be only one of either a shameless liar or an appallingly poor manager, and he is promoted, there is no credibility in the morals of his superiors or the system. We have to swallow the idea that he is not a liar, and then listen to this supposedly super-inept manager lecturing public servants on their moral turpitude and inefficiency. How can anyone take Hunt seriously on this subject?
Equally, there is a striking absence of castigation of the private sector for its massive failures. The government dumps on public servants at every opportunity, with sharp-suited Hunt at the front of the pack, naming names and demanding pay freezes and job cuts. We are still waiting for the individuals in the financial services – the stormtroopers of the private sector – to be named, financially penalised and prosecuted for nearly destroying the global economy.
Yet the fiction of "private sector efficient, public sector bloated" is maintained, with a rush to out-source and privatise as much as possible. The lie that the credit crunch was caused by excessive public spending, rather than spectacular managerial private sector failure, continues to go largely unchallenged.
Regrettably, we have no reason to believe that we would be any safer, morally or economically, in the hands of the opposition. The cleansing of the Blatcherite Augean stables has not happened. Hunt is little worse than many Blatcherites.
We were told that former culture secretary Tessa Jowell never knew a thing about the dodgy dealings of her husband, David Mills – could they really have communicated so little about their joint financial affairs? A Channel 4 Dispatches programme shortly before the last election showed footage of the likes of Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt offering to sell their political connections to corporations. We are certainly not all in this together, but the political class and business are as in and out of each other's beds as they ever were.
How much more can the people of this country stand? A radical spasm that vomits the current ruling elite out of power seems more increasingly plausible – and necessary."
This article by Oliver James is spot on. Bring on the 'radical spasm' and lets get vomitting!