Diary: Conveniently, Hunt seems to be slipping off the hook


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The Independent Online

Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, is so confident that he has survived the revelations of the Leveson Inquiry that he has invited political journalists this week to a drinks reception in his office. He no longer fears what they might ask.

How different it might have been if Sir Alex Allan, the independent adviser on ministers' interests, had been authorised to look into whether Mr Hunt had broken the ministerial code. But he can only investigate those whom the Prime Minister tells him to investigate. David Cameron allowed him to probe some fairly trivial complaints about the party chairman, Baroness Warsi, but wouldn't let him near the much bigger issue of the Murdoch bid to take over the whole of BSkyB.

A cross-party Commons committee recommended giving Sir Alex more muscle, so he can decide for himself whom to investigate. That report was scheduled to be voted on in the Commons tomorrow. Then along came the Barclays scandal. The Government decided it was worth a Commons debate, which will be held tomorrow, so – whoops! – the embarrassing committee report has fallen off the agenda, and no one knows if or when it will get back on again. Convenient.

Clegg can be grateful for small mercies

In a way Nick Clegg is to be congratulated. A survey by Lib Dem Voice, the main website for Liberal Democrat activists, says that 54 per cent of party members surveyed think he is doing OK, while 34 per cent are "dissatisfied" with him, giving him a net satisfaction rating of plus 20.

That compares with a plus 80 score for everyone's favourite Liberal Democrat, the Business Secretary Vince Cable. Why should the Deputy Prime Minister, below right, be pleased when more than a third of his own party thinks he is rubbish? Because it is actually a better score than the last such survey.

Former golden boy's tweet says it all

Nick Clegg's problem, and that of much of Parliament, was neatly encapsulated in a tweet yesterday from the Tory MP Zac Goldsmith – "Nick Clegg feels lobotomised in Govt. MPs are lobotomised in Parliament." Reading that makes one wonder whether this former golden boy of the Tories will want to go on being a Tory MP.

Moggy's claws out for Carr

That star of the Tory backbenches, Jacob Rees-Mogg, does not agree with David Cameron's view that Jimmy Carr's tax avoidance wheeze was "morally wrong". Tax is not a moral issue, the Moggy told the Commons, as they debated Goerge Osborne's Budget for the last time. This is not to say that he would defend Jimmy Carr, even supposing he knew who he was, because, he added, "the scheme used by a comedian, whose name momentarily escapes me but who is quite famous, was almost certainly unlawful..."

From Russia with bad memories

A little crowd assembled at Pushkin House in London's Bloomsbury Square on Monday night for a special showing of Age of Delirium, a film by the former Financial Times correspondent David Satter, in which citizens of what used to be the USSR tell their stories. A woman from a small Ukrainian village recalled the state-induced famine of 1933, during which the parents of one of her primary school classmates went mad with hunger, cut him up, ate him, and stuffed his bones in a barrel. Extraordinarily, this film is being shown in Russia.

Yet if anyone thought the days of political violence there are over, sitting at the back was Akhmed Zakayev, a Chechen exile whom the British courts have refused to extradite. If Zakayev went back to Chechnya, it is a toss-up whether he would be killed by Islamists or disappear into a Russian jail on a dubious charge, never to be seen again.