Tory Culture Minister splashed admiration for Murdoch on his own website

Hunt…far from being put in a corner by Cameron, Hunt was gung-ho for the Newscorp deal

This morning, the Slog showed how Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt shares a liking for monopolism with Rupert Murdoch. But the full extent of his admiration for the controlling Digger is only just coming to light.

Although the toast of the town some months back, ingenue hackette Holly Watt of the Daily Telegraph may yet turn out to have been the most expensive asset ever acquired by the secretive Barclay Brothers.

She it was who – pretending in a flurry of girlie giggles to fancy Vince Cable, and masquerading as his constituent – taped him saying how much he’d like to get rid of Rupert Murdoch. One wonders a great many things about Holly the more one digs into her past…..but above all, The Slog could be forgiven for thinking she’s really a Murdoch secret agent*. (She used to work for the Digger, under whose tutelage Ms Watt learned many a trick.)

For now Murdoch’s bid for BSkyB is to go through….because Vince was dropped in favour of the oleaginous Jeremy Hunt.

But just as Cable clearly loathed Murdoch, it now transpires that Hunt was far from objective about the Greatest Living Americo-Australian Chinese-Marrier. In fact, being a ceaseless (and careless) self-publicist, Jeremy Hunt was daft enough to plaster this admiration all over his own website.

‘For further proof that the Conservatives have shaken off their reputation as the “nasty party”, look no further than Jeremy Hunt, the shadow minister for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport these past 12 months’, gushed Broadcast Magazine in January this year. Puffed up with pride at the glowing interview blurb he’d received from Broadcast, Culture Minister Hunt reprinted the whole piece on his site. In it, Hunt had this to say about the man whose fitness for even more power he was about to judge:

“We have to recognise that Sky is responsible for a surprising amount of public service broadcasting. Sky Arts, for example, produces quite a lot of arts programming that neither the BBC nor C4 is willing to fund….Rather than worry about Rupert Murdoch owning another TV channel, what we should recognise is that he has probably done more to create variety and choice in British TV than any other single person because of his huge investment in setting up Sky TV which, at one point, was losing several million pounds a day. We would be the poorer and wouldn’t be saying that British TV is the envy of the world if it hadn’t been for him being prepared to take that commercial risk. We need to encourage that kind of investment.”

Well Jezzer, I have news for you: your job as the Culture Secretary isn’t to spout Thatcherite gibberish, but rather to ‘worry about Rupert Murdoch owning another TV Channel’.

But it’s not in Mr Hunt’s way to hide his refracted light under a bushel. And despite the glass chin that is his educational-supply company (as The Slog reminded readers this morning, it is a very, very preferred supplier to the British Council – albeit under variously assumed names) JH couldn’t resist working in a plug for that too. Cop this for a combination of economy and spin from Broadcast:

‘His subsequent career as an entrepreneur led to him co-found Hotcourses, the educational directory company that now employs around 180 people. “Eventually we stumbled upon educational publishing,” he recalls, making the whole enterprise sound like a happy accident. In fact, post-Oxford, Hunt, who briefly worked as a management consultant, set up a whole series of businesses that flopped (exporting marmalade to Japan was one) before striking gold in the shape of Hotcourses….’

Well, it’s a well-known fact that if you strike gold and then push out every other miner within 5000 miles, you will indeed make a lot of money. But being two Monopolists, Murdoch and Hunt are made for each other.

One amusing divagation if I may. Since this morning’s posting, my inbox has been slowly filling with the largely sour memories fellow Oxbridgers have of Hunt. This one is typical and quite succinct:

‘Oooo wonderful!! I was at Magdalen with chunt. Smug oily nasty hack’.


* As The Slog (among several others) also revealed last month, the Barclays hired a top New York firm of private dicks to root out who had given the Cable/Murdoch story to the BBC’s Robert Peston after they’d spiked it. Apparently, the wise BBs of Sark feared that exactly what has happened would happen.