Why the Hunt show must go on


Rupert Murdoch isn’t the only elderly gentleman giving Jeremy Hunt palpitations – the Duke of Edinburgh’s frailty has added to the Culture Secretary’s burden. Prince Philip’s hospitalisation during the Diamond Jubilee weekend prompted Whitehall departments to cast an eye over plans for a royal send-off on a ceremonial gun carriage when the 91-year-old curmudgeon shuffles off this mortal coil. Ministers discovered that, should the moment occur during London 2012, the International Olympic Committee will insist that the Games carry on. This could prove embarrassing, not least because the men’s and women’s marathons start and finish on the Mall, in front of Buck House. My snout whispered that the course would be moved, but Hunted fears a Daily Mail-inspired backlash over a perceived lack of respect. Footie was cancelled on the day of Di’s funeral, as was your correspondent’s cricket match between hacks and the TUC. The Olympics, however, stop for nobody.

The politburo of Labour’s Progress tendency should beware the old “seat trick” when granted an audience with Paul Kenny, GMB general secretary. Robert Philpot, the director of Progress, wrote to the union baron asking if he and the faction’s chair, the willowy Lord “More Andrew Than” Adonis of Camden Town, could put the turbo-Blairites’ case after Kenny demanded the group’s proscription. In the 1970s TV series The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin, the boss of Sunshine Desserts, CJ, intimidated underlings by seating them in a chair that made a farting sound. A victim of PK said the union leader gets the upper hand by directing guests to furniture lower than his leather throne, so that he can peer down on them. Lord Sainsbury’s fortune can’t buy a level playing field in the court of King Kenny.

Likes to go the extra mile, Tim Loughton MP. Education Department bills show Michael Gove, Nick Gibb and Sarah Teather spent not a penny on taxis over 18 months – unlike the adoption minister, who clocked up £1,617. He also spent more taxpayers’ cash – £2,204 – than colleagues on cars supplied by Addison Lee, the Tories’ favourite minicab firm. Maybe Loughton should adopt public transport if they’re all in this together in Educashon.

Vicky Pryce, the estranged wife of Chris Huhne, isn’t hiding ahead of her court appearance alongside the former cabinet minister over speeding points and charges of perverting the course of justice. The Greek-born economist is all over the media commenting on the euro crisis. She’s retained more friends in Lib Dem circles than the insensitive Huhne. A snout said that Vince Cable wishes he’d persuaded Pryce to stay as chief economist at the Department for Business. A parliamentary seat may yet be hers.

Football rivalries run deep in Scotland. The Daily Record printed a “Rangers FC RIP” front page when the team collapsed financially. A member of the Labour shadow cabinet, a Celtic fan, bought six copies. As souvenirs. 

Kevin Maguire is associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror

Kevin Maguire is Associate Editor (Politics) on the Daily Mirror and author of our Commons Confidential column on the high politics and low life in Westminster. An award-winning journalist, he is in frequent demand on television and radio and co-authored a book on great parliamentary scandals. He was formerly Chief Reporter on the Guardian and Labour Correspondent on the Daily Telegraph.

This article first appeared in the 25 June 2012 issue of the New Statesman, Europe’s most dangerous leader