Diary: Jeremy Hunt's evidence proves to be past its sell-by date


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The Independent Online

One overlooked passage in Jeremy Hunt's evidence to the Leveson Inquiry last week is so inaccurate, exaggerated, out of date and generally not the case that you might almost call it a fib.

"I have a section on my website which is really there for the benefit of my constituents," claimed the Culture Secretary "where I put up press articles about me, so that people can see what I'm up to. It's helpful to my constituents to put up all the comments about me, positive or negative.

And there's more – "There are comment sections on my website where constituents themselves put up comments, positive or negative."

I pointed out in this Diary three weeks ago that Hunt's website was well out of date. The latest entry was posted on 29 March, announcing the birth of his daughter, a week earlier.

There is a more recent comment from a member of the public, dated 24 April, though there has been nothing "negative", nor any national news, posted since early March. The latest entry on the invitation to join a Twitter conversation, as of yesterday, was 44 days old.

The best that can be said for this section of Hunt's evidence is that it would have been true if he had used the past tense.

The wit of Doris Karloff

It is a requirement of democratic politics that our leaders show a willingness to humiliate themselves for the gratification of the public. Hence Ed Miliband's admission in his speech yesterday that he does indeed look like Wallace, of Wallace and Gromit. "If spin doctors could design a politician, I suspect he wouldn't look like me," he added. That line was good enough to have been written by a spin doctor – which it probably was.

It will be quoted more often than a similar piece of self-deprecation from Ann Widdecombe, whose looks earned her the nickname "Doris Karloff" – though I would say that hers was wittier. At a Tory Party conference, she tore into a Department of Health pamphlet which featured a host of photographs of Tessa Jowell, then Health minister. Having counted them all, "Doris" exclaimed: "I could understand it if she had my looks."

A monstrously futile argument

For pointless arguments, you could hardly beat the one that has erupted in Bournemouth over a sculpture commemorating Frankenstein. It came out of discussions between Tobias Ellwood, MP for Bournemouth East, and Avonbourne School over ways to mark Bournemouth's "literary heritage".

Instead of producing something that looked like Boris – or even Doris – Karloff, the sculptor, Andy Kirkby, came up with a 1.3-tonne marble statue of a dove. Bournemouth Council has applied for permission to place it in a local park, called Shelley Park, after Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein.

This has provoked a protest from the chairman of The Friends of Shelley Manor, Pat Clark, who thinks that a statue that looked like the Frankenstein monster would do more to bring in the tourists. "It's a missed opportunity," he told the Bournemouth Echo.

You might think from this that there is a link between Bournemouth and Mary Shelley's classic novel. There is not. The idea for the story originated in evenings spent near Lake Geneva when Mary Shelley, her poet husband, her sister Claire, and Claire's lover, Lord Byron, scared one another by inventing ghost stories. The novel was completed in a cottage that is still standing, in West Street, Marlow, Buckinghamshire.

Or you might think there is a link between Bournemouth and the life of Mary Shelley. Hardly. She never lived there, but, for reasons unknown, wanted to be buried there. Her grave is in St Peter's Church.

Two years left for this charming man

Morrissey, the singer who ordered David Cameron not to like his music, may soon stop producing it. He once pledged to quit the music business at 55, which leaves him with just two years on the road.

Interviewed on JuiceOnline.com he confirmed that he means it. "I am slightly shocked to have gone as far as I have."