Jeremy Hunt, next Tory leader?

A piece in today's Guardian is touting Jeremy Hunt as a future Tory leader. Could it really be so?

A piece in yesterday’s Guardian pondered whether the current health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, could be a dark horse in the race to succeed a prime minister who looks increasingly unlikely to make it past 2017’s prospective referendum on the EU.

In Hunt’s favour is a more outward looking perspective than the majority of his party, particularly with regard to immigration and gay marriage. A fluent speaker of Japanese after spending two years there as an English teacher, Hunt also has a successful background in business, meaning that at least he does not bolster the ranks of those scourges of Westminster, the careerist politicians.

Nevertheless, the idea of this man in charge of the Conservative Party is a perturbing prospect for the country.

Although the fact that he was caught up in the expenses scandal, eventually repaying £9,500 of wrongly claimed expenses, hardly sets him apart from any other politician, controversy has relentlessly pursued the MP for South West Surrey.

Neither do his comments that appeared to associate Liverpool fans for hooliganism in the Hillsborough tragedy really mark him out as unusual given his party’s history in that regard.

Corrupt, gaff prone politicians are, after all, hardly a rarity, but during Hunt’s time as culture secretary the real signs of a murky character at ease with nepotism began to emerge.

In the course of the Leveson Enquiry it emerged that Hunt had been having private text and email conversations with James Murdoch as News Corporation attempted to take over BSKYB, a bid over which it was Hunt’s remit to oversee.

Following calls to resign by Labour, Hunt then went on to take much of the blame for G4S’ disastrous Olympic security measures which resulted in the army being drafted in. It was also alleged by Labour that he attempted to remove the eulogy to the NHS in the Olympic Opening Ceremony.

Given the above, as well as his view that the abortion limit should be reduced from 24 to 12 weeks, and his fatuous support for homeopathy, it was to the astonishment of many that Hunt was appointed to the role of health secretary during a cabinet reshuffle in 2012.

That the health secretary shares a witless esteem for quackery with Prince Charles is even more concerning. The two of them met in secret at Clarence House in 2013 in order that the king-to-be might press upon Hunt the importance of setting up a register of practitioners of herbal and Chinese medicine – intended to offer the profession a modicum of credibility.

That Charles feels it’s his place to air these concerns is bad enough, but that Hunt is placating him with an audience as they collude in a sinister view that is not only anathema to the vast majority of the medical profession, but also to the laws of logic and reason, is deeply troubling. For reference, alternative medicine that has been proven to work tends have the prefix removed.

It is an amazing thing that, given his apparent incompetence, the one-time Head Boy at Charterhouse has managed to rise so high. He certainly has an ability to confound the odds matched only by his Oxford contemporary, Boris Johnson.

Considering this charmed existence, the day may come when the country has to choose between Hunt and Miliband, both slippery operators but both so bland, banal and uninspiring that one wonders if the Matrix’s Agent Smith really has infiltrated the political establishment.

The 1930s, Orwell once noted, “was a stagnant period, and its natural leaders were mediocrities”. Perhaps Jeremy, too, is simply a man of his age.

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