While some people might argue that we already have all of the evidence that we need to make a judgement, recently Jeremy Hunt, through the use of Twitter, has summarised in 140 characters or less exactly why he is utterly ill-suited to the posts of MP and Minister that he holds.
Last month, the website www.conservativepolicyforum.com released a survey that listed a number of questions to its members about the future of the health service. At the end of this was a list of self admitted ‘controversial’ topics which members were asked to rate. Among these was the idea that there should be a cap on the number of times you should be allowed to visit your GP in any given year. (Go here to find the original report. The section in question is right at the end).
In their own word, the ideas this was included with were “controversial food for thought”. It is clearly a way of measuring the Conservative Party membership’s level of interest. However, when this news got out many people were understandably worried. I’m sure that at various points in the past this whole thing would have quickly been dismissed by both the media and public, but under our current Health Secretary it rang all too true as something that he might well attempt.
I was first made aware of this by a 38 Degree online petition. This was set up to make a firm and rapid statement to Mr. Hunt that the general public would not support such a direction in his policy. In 48 hours it reached nearly 200,000 signatures, and was sent off to the Ministry.
This was where Hunt displayed to the world what sort of man he is. Soon after receiving the petition, he posted the following on his Twitter feed.
This highlights the utter contempt that Jeremy Hunt holds all those who wish to engage with him. This ideas was when out by an official, public Conservative Party think tank, and those of us who were concerned made a statement of their displeasure, as was our right. All the Minister had to do was make a brief statement reassuring people that this was not being considered as policy.
The public raises a concern, the government listens and replies. Democracy in action.
Or not. Because of course Jeremy Hunt does not consider the concerns of the People to be of importance. Why was there the need to make a dig at a group of people who expressed concern? A basic tenant of democracy is that the elected representatives are answerable to the people, and yet Mr. Hunt decided to make a passive aggressive attack on those people who seek to promote that accountability.
A cannot imagine that this situation took any significant time out of his day. He would have been shown the petition by his office, seen that the idea highlighted was not planned to be policy, and told one of his staff to clearly refute it on Twitter. End of story. What’s that? About two minutes of his day at most? It would have been a wonderful example of him engaging with the electorate and done nothing but help his reputation as a politician. But instead he feels compelled to make his snide remark about 38 Degrees. I mean, how dare the public place him under scrutiny? Don’t they know who he is? He’s Jeremy Hunt!
Online petitions are a new phenomenon, and one a lot of the political establishment is still trying coming to terms with. The internet has made it so simple for the public to come together an express opinions on matters of national interest. In the past Ministers might have been able to do the majority of their work with little or no response until policies were enacted, but those days are over. Mr. Hunt, with his involvement in the Ministry’s of both Media and Heath, has been the focus of a number of these petitions since coming to office, and I can understand why he might be frustrated by them, but there is no sympathy.
What this is an example of is a man who is getting fed up with the public outcry at all of his policies. Jeremy Hunt is an example of a certain type of politician; those who feel that the authority they are given is their god given right, rather than something granted to him by the choices of others. This Tweet has encapsulated all of this. He doesn’t see the public as an entity that should be paying attention to what he does, with the right to know his plans and express their opinion. To him the public should settle down and leave him to it, allowing him to do what he want without having to worry about what the common folk want.
I am not trying to make a party political. While I do not support the Tory party or many of their policies, I accept that they were voted in and the current government was fairly elected under our current political system. What I’m criticising here is the man himself. This is a entitled member of the Oxford Old Boys Club. He holds a great deal of power and yet holds nothing but scorn for an open, informed electorate that doesn’t treat him with the deference he feels he deserves. He does not care about what any of us want or need. He has his own views, and as soon as anyone disagrees with him they are a target for his scorn and derision.
This situation offered Mr. Hunt a chance to engage with the electorate. What he gave back was a precisely summarised display of what a privileged, entitled bully he really is. In 140 characters or less.