The Sketch: Off to the tower with this sorry excuse for a minister

The minister looked piteous, like a broken child; halting, faltering, fresh out of virtue
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The Independent Online

"This is not the time to jump on a political bandwagon." That was Jeremy Hunt's advice to Labour. It got a big roar but an even louder counter-roar.

Really – in the matter of bandwagons – if not now, when?

The minister looked piteous, like a broken child; halting, faltering, fresh out of virtue. But he read out things passed to him by the PM, or written for him by advisers – things that needed a mineral core of shamelessness to carry off.

Harriet Harman had said the BSkyB decision had been taken from Vince because he'd made his mind up; it had been given to Hunt, who'd made his mind up too, but the other way round. Had anyone who'd watched the debate thought anything else?

Oh, Jeremy was "very disappointed" in Harman's response. What was needed from Labour was "humility". Yes, it was time for "opposition members to show humility". Their previous leader had "made love like a scorpion" to Rupert Murdoch and been made godfather to his children.

Hunt, on his own account of it, had acted with transcendental integrity. "The idea I was backing this bid is laughable."

The only killer question came from a Tory. Far too many of them had praised the minister's decency and integrity (all new-intake members who wouldn't know one way or the other).

This prompted one of Dennis Skinner's darker sarcasms: "They're all in it together."

Not quite, though: Peter Bone asked if Hunt had run his statement past News Corp before making it to the House of Commons.

Here's the beginning of the minister's answer: "There are allegations in an email that that did not happen, and I am unable to say to the House today what the truth or otherwise was of the communiqué of the account of a conversation..."

That's the chopping block – now, where's the axe?