Hunt's acute bias is exposed again

But the Culture Secretary is still safe for now.

Jeremy Hunt's appearance before the Leveson inquiry has not failed to live up to expectations. The most dramatic moment came when it was revealed that the Culture Secretary had texted James Murdoch to congratulate him on winning EU approval for the BSkyB takeover. He wrote: "Great and congrats on Brussels. Just Ofcom to go!"

Significantly, the text was sent on 21 December, the day Vince Cable lost responsibility for the bid after it was revealed that he had "declared war" on Rupert Murdoch. Hunt's defence is that the text simply reaffirmed his publicly-stated support for the bid (amusingly, he claimed that he was merely "broadly sympathetic") and that it was sent before he formally acquired responsibility for the deal  (just an hour later). Had he already been given quasi-judicial authority, he suggested, he would not "have sent that text". Unlike Vince Cable, Hunt's defenders will say, he did not demonstrate bias once in post.

This defence should be enough for Hunt to retain Downing Street's support. Unless any "new evidence" (to use Cameron's phrase) emerges that Hunt may have broken the ministerial code, he will survive, leaving him with the option to leave the cabinet (or accept another post) at a later date.

Update: As Stefan Stern points out on Twitter, it will now be even harder for Cameron to defend his decision to hand responsibility for the bid to Hunt. Yet again, the Prime Minister is guilty of terrible judgement.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt arrives at The Royal Courts of Justice to give evidence to the Leveson inquiry. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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This is no time for a coup against a successful Labour leader

Don't blame Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour Party's crisis.

"The people who are sovereign in our party are the members," said John McDonnell this morning. As the coup against Jeremy Corbyn gains pace, the Shadow Chancellor has been talking a lot of sense. "It is time for people to come together to work in the interest of the country," he told Peston on Sunday, while emphasising that people will quickly lose trust in politics altogether if this internal squabbling continues. 

The Tory party is in complete disarray. Just days ago, the first Tory leader in 23 years to win a majority for his party was forced to resign from Government after just over a year in charge. We have some form of caretaker Government. Those who led the Brexit campaign now have no idea what to do. 

It is disappointing that a handful of Labour parliamentarians have decided to join in with the disintegration of British politics.

The Labour Party had the opportunity to keep its head while all about it lost theirs. It could have positioned itself as a credible alternative to a broken Government and a Tory party in chaos. Instead we have been left with a pathetic attempt to overturn the democratic will of the membership. 

But this has been coming for some time. In my opinion it has very little to do with the ramifications of the referendum result. Jeremy Corbyn was asked to do two things throughout the campaign: first, get Labour voters to side with Remain, and second, get young people to do the same.

Nearly seven in ten Labour supporters backed Remain. Young voters supported Remain by a 4:1 margin. This is about much more than an allegedly half-hearted referendum performance.

The Parliamentary Labour Party has failed to come to terms with Jeremy Corbyn’s emphatic victory. In September of last year he was elected with 59.5 per cent of the vote, some 170,000 ahead of his closest rival. It is a fact worth repeating. If another Labour leadership election were to be called I would expect Jeremy Corbyn to win by a similar margin.

In the recent local elections Jeremy managed to increase Labour’s share of the national vote on the 2015 general election. They said he would lose every by-election. He has won them emphatically. Time and time again Jeremy has exceeded expectation while also having to deal with an embittered wing within his own party.

This is no time for a leadership coup. I am dumbfounded by the attempt to remove Jeremy. The only thing that will come out of this attempted coup is another leadership election that Jeremy will win. Those opposed to him will then find themselves back at square one. Such moves only hurt Labour’s electoral chances. Labour could be offering an ambitious plan to the country concerning our current relationship with Europe, if opponents of Jeremy Corbyn hadn't decided to drop a nuke on the party.

This is a crisis Jeremy should take no responsibility for. The "bitterites" will try and they will fail. Corbyn may face a crisis of confidence. But it's the handful of rebel Labour MPs that have forced the party into a crisis of existence.

Liam Young is a commentator for the IndependentNew Statesman, Mirror and others.