Profile: The Tory Puppet Who’s Universally Despised and Utterly Incompetent

You know something is wrong when one of the most universally despised figures in the country appears to have complete job security. Yet in the case of Jeremy Hunt, that is the position we currently find ourselves locked in.

Following the Health Secretary's decision impose a new contract on NHS junior doctors after the British Medical Association (BMA) rejected a final offer to end the long and gruelling dispute, the man has been vilified by the British public.  

A new poll has revealed that Hunt is the most disliked frontline British politician of any party,  and it's easy to see why. Though George Osborne's relatively recent demise would make the Chancellor a strong contender for the title, the Health Secretary is a PR disaster waiting to happen. Not only that, he has the problem in that he cannot hide behind the facade of "fixing the roof while the sun shines."  Put simply, he's proved to be a terribly incompetent Health Secretary.

Of course, we can take consolation from the fact that his name is cockney rhyming slang. In that sense, he is the gift that keeps on giving. And when none-other-than James Blunt shows him up, we really can revel in Hunt's anguish.

But once those five minutes of fun are over, we begin to realise just how serious this all is.

Hunt's career trajectory appeared to be in turmoil during the phone-hacking scandal, at which point he was the Culture Secretary. The South West Surrey MP was alleged to have had improper contact with News Corp. He survived however, and shortly Hunt was promoted. How nice for him, eh?

In 2012, the then 44 year-old was made Health Secretary, seemingly with the sole job requirement reading as: "Destroy the NHS."

Over the last four years, the National Health Service has been in disarray.  NHS waiting-time targets have been frequently missed, while Hunt has been accused of deliberately misquoting studies for party-political gain.

The Health Secretary claimed that 11,000 more people die in hospital at weekends because staffing levels are lower, but doctors accused him of misrepresenting a paper written by NHS England Medical Director Sir Bruce Keogh for the British Medical Journal.


As well as this, just last month, Mr Hunt was widely lambasted for making the ludicrous suggestion that parents should go online to look at photos of rashes if worried that a child may have meningitis.

He was quoted as saying "If you're worried about a rash your child has, an online alternative – where you look at photographs and say “My child’s rash looks like this one” – may be a quicker way of getting to the bottom of whether this is serious or not."

So there we have it; if your child is unwell, you Google it.

Perhaps none of this should be surprising. One could quite easily make a timeline of the many, many gaffes made by Jeremy Hunt. When asked about Tax Credit cuts, he declared his support for them, stating that the British need to "work harder." He also courted controversy when he suggested that supporters of Liverpool football club may have been partly to blame for the Hillsborough disaster, despite everyone else knowing that this is not true. I suppose it is possible that he didn't get the memo.

Despite all of this, however, the most pressing concern now has to be the future of the NHS. Despite the fact that throughout this piece I have been ranting and raving about Jezza Hunt, I confess to having mixed signals about him. Let's face it, he is just a puppet. You wouldn't be mad at Pinocchio, would you? You could throw any Cabinet minister into the position of Health Secretary and things would be more or less the same as they are now. While his name appears next to the words "Health Secretary", Hunt can be considered instantly replaceable. Just ask Andrew Lansley.

Instead, attention really has to be turned to the Conservative party. Signing a petition stating a vote of no-confidence in Jeremy Hunt is one thing, but so far it has gotten the British public nowhere. Noam Chomsky describes the standard technique of privatisation thus: “Defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital”. Therefore it's no wonder that Hunt imposed junior doctors a non-negotiable contract. And it's no surprise time after time again we hear incoherent ramblings about a 24/7 NHS; as though hospitals are currently shut on Sundays. As it stands doctors are likely to leave the UK and move abroad to a country where they are more appreciated, and children who once dreamed of becoming a doctor may now have a career change. That's why this is not a battle of Junior Doctors vs Jeremy Hunt. This is a battle for the all British people.

Will Rogers

More about the author

About the author

Will is a journalism student and a blogger/writer with a passion for politics and our society. He covers many major political events and frequently writes about the political figures who inspire or infuriate us. He is currently doing his dissertation on opinion discourse in the media, which inspired him to share some of his own opinions with Disclaimer and other publications.

Follow Will on Twitter.

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