UK politics is characterised by it’s astonishing number of knaves, crooks, criminals, exploiters and liars.
As such, I thought it might be useful to offer a comprehensive breakdown of any MPs whose behaviour may be particularly offensive, hypocritical or corrupt.
Every week, I plan on breaking down an MP who is on the take, on the make or should be given a good shake (I was struggling for rhyming words there, I admit). I’ll give a brief bio on them, what they purport to stand for and what their interests and actions actually reveal about them.
This week, I’m taking aim at the least popular politician in the UK, Jeremy Hunt.
Who is Jeremy Hunt?
Hunt is Conservative MP for South West Surrey and the Health Secretary, a position he has held since 2012. He is currently engaged in a protracted battle with junior doctors, nurses and the majority of the public over cuts to NHS staffing, reductions of services and reduced funding within the sector.
What does Hunt stand for?
Hunt claims that he wants to improve the NHS through extending working hours of staff, cutting costs so that less money is “wasted” and to reduce weekend death rate increases. He has imposed contractual changes upon junior doctors in order to try to achieve this, a main sticking point in recent strike action.
What are Hunt’s interests?
- Hunt co-authored a book that famously called for the NHS to be broken up and replaced with a private insurance model to benefit private companies.
- He received £32,920 from Andrew Law, a hedge fund baron and a huge investor in private healthcare firms.
- Hunt recently became the richest member of Theresa May’s cabinet, as the sale of a company he owned netted him £14.5m (considered controversial due to enforcing lower wages on junior doctor’s and increasing cuts within the NHS).
- Helped elect the truly awful and crooked Keith Vaz to a position on the powerful (and ironically named) Justice Committee.
- Tried to influence how Danny Boyle’s Olympic Opening Ceremony honoured the NHS:
Reportedly, on being presented the plans for the show by Boyle’s creative team, Mr Hunt tried to persuade the director to remove the sections featuring the NHS.
- Has had murky relations with billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, with his aide being found to have passed on favourable information to Murdoch’s News International over their controversial bid for BSkyB.
- Showed support for the pseudoscience of homeopathy to receive large amounts of funding from the NHS, whilst encouraging cuts elsewhere.
- Hunt’s constituency of South West Surrey was the location for one of the biggest NHS sell offs ever to a private healthcare contractor:
Assura Medical, which is majority owned by Richard Branson’s Virgin, signed a £650m deal to run a wide variety of Surrey’s healthcare services. When delays held up the signing of the deal between Surrey’s NHS trust and Branson’s company (which has since become Virgin Care), Jeremy Hunt stepped in, writing to the head of Surrey’s Primary Care Trust to try to hurry the deal along.
What are Hunt’s actions?
Since becoming Health Secretary, Hunt has engaged in aggressive confrontations with the BMA, junior doctors, nurses and cleaners.
He has induced strike action from junior doctors (not typically the most radical or eager strikers) and soured the government’s relationship with the health care profession.
Recently, he alienated GPs with calls for a “seven day a week NHS” (without increasing numbers of GPs or available surgeries. A coalition of GPs voted in a motion of no confidence against the Health Secretary, a motion passed with 99.6% in favour!
He has been in constant contact with private companies and healthcare providers in the USA, a country that spends $3.35 trillion per year on healthcare. Most of this money is siphoned off to large corporations and into shareholder’s pockets. This activity isn’t quiet; in fact, the British Consulate in New York announced it on their Twitter, alongside a picture of Hunt with senior civil servant Antonia Romeo:
Hunt also funneled money away from the NHS by using deceitful budget tricks. Hunt promised £8.4bn extra for the NHS by 2020. However, almost £4bn less than promised will be spent on the NHS over that period!
He has tried to diminish the valued opinion of the Red Cross in assessing the current crisis of poor patient care in the NHS. Hardly a liberal organisation, the Red Cross has pointed out that they consider the defunding and asset stripping of the NHS to be causing a humanitarian crisis.
Why this matters
Jeremy Hunt has shown himself to be in bed with private industry through his receipt of money from donors strongly linked to private health firms.
His ideological purpose to defund the NHS and sell off it’s carcass to the highest bidder has already been laid out in the book he co-authored.
An eagerness to toady up to Murdoch is worrying, showing that he will improperly favour billionaires over the public good.
His eagerness to rush through privatisation deals in his home constituency show an unseemly haste, reflective of his vested interest in swapping NHS services into the hands of profiteering companies like Virgin. This will almost certainly lead to more money being drained from the NHS and patient care quality plummeting.
Any MP who wants to dismantle the NHS, sell it off to corporate vultures and alienate it’s staff and the views of the public is not fit for purpose, let alone for the position of Health Secretary.
Hunt is a disgrace and in any sane world would be as far from nationalised care as possible.