“Look, you can get children up chimneys only this wide’

The man who will be in charge of motivating medical and support staff in the NHS is today revealed as a ruthlessly insensitive employer, with neither regard nor respect for his employees….who allegedly conspired to falsify questionnaires in order to win a position among London’s ‘Top Ten Employers’.

As more truly degrading allegations of Newscorp involvement in bribing cops and blackmailing Home Secretaries come to light, Jeremy Hunt – the man whose nickname at the Culture Ministry was ‘Warwick’ –  presumably remains as unfazed as ever by the stench at the bottom of the barrel.

At least, this is what one would assume having read some amusing comment threads from a blog published last June by Luke Turner at the website Quietus.com. You might call this little reunion in print Memoirs of a Huntcoursing Man, relating as it does to a time some ten years ago when our Jeremy was building up his monopoly-supply sweatshop with former Ogilvy & Mather media bod Mike Elms. The poor lab-rats zooming round the treadmill to sell those ‘Hunt-courses’ must have thought many times, as they laboured, about how much better their employer’s product-descriptor might be with a spoonerism of flavour added.

This is the essential summary of what Luke himself has to say:

‘…in the three years I worked for Jeremy Hunt, from the September of 2000 to the same month of 2003, I think I got a pretty good idea of what was going on…. What made it the worst three years of my life was the working environment, and the expectation put onto the staff by Mr Hunt and the other managers. When a deadline approached, we were expected to work late into the night for no overtime or recompense. Rarely were we thanked for our labours…. One former colleague writes, “For me it was just the whole cumulative effect of all the insensitivity, arrogance, greed and goggle-eyed sociopathy that did my head in over two and a half years”… You would not have picked out Jeremy Hunt as a brilliant intellect, a powerful speaker, a man with any convictions other than those he was born with. This is the impression one also gets from the rest of his colleagues in the Conservative party. It was bad enough having him as a boss – the fact that he and his chums are running the country is far, far worse…’

This is a terrific summation of everything decent people find disgusting about Hunt and his ilk, but without the modern addition of comment threads, it could of course be dismissed as the venom of a man inexplicably rendered bitter and twisted by 36 months of being treated like some impertinently smelly excrement on Jeremy’s designer loafers.

There are, literally, dozens and dozens of submissions at Quietus from other lost souls lucky enough to have worked in that building so deftly used as a tax-dodge by Hunt and his partner two years ago. Here’s a selection of ‘Praise for Hotcourses’ from satiated former workers:

Schadenfreude is indeed a very negative thing to indulge in, but I doubt anyone will begrudge you where that grinning chump Hunt is concerned. I don’t want to see him resign, I want him fired and (please oh please oh please!) prosecuted for corruption.

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A former colleague just emailed this little nugget that I had forgotten: “I do remember them rewarding a team who’d spent three months working 15 hour days with “I love Hotcourses” mousemats, though. That stays with me.”

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I’m another Hotcourses survivor – worked briefly, in fact, on the same desk as Luke – and can confirm his account. It took a target based approach to everything, however inappropriately. You’d be expected to work half the night, if that’s what it took to get the job done, but woe betide you if the tube made you five minutes late.

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On my first day my line manager took me aside and said, “Now, you might hear the other staff saying some bad things about the company. I’d like you to ignore that.” Which set alarm bells ringing rather…there was a certain camaraderie that came from the shared loathing of management. I’ve never had another job that came close to being that bad, and I’ve been working in the media for a decade now. The experience doesn’t give me much faith in Hunt’s understanding of either business or people.

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The whole thing was a scam, everyone hated the company apart from a few arse-licking career junkies so there is no feasible way they should have ended up as a Top 10 Company. Never in my life have I worked for a company that made me so angry with the incompetent, unproductive blame culture that the place bred… really sickened me.

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Hunt paid himself a £2M bonus just before he entered Cabinet while Hotcourses were laying off people who were earning £15K – £20K per year.

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The worst company I have ever worked for. Everything Luke says is true. It’s nice to know that he is just as much a bellend as we always suspected.

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They deliberately targeted fresh school/university leavers who have no experience or awareness they are being treated appallingly. Paints a vivid picture of a company that had nothing but its own bottom line at heart, at the expense of its staff. Hunt’s charity work can so easily be dismissed outright as a self-serving exercise during the fledgling stages of his political career to make him a stronger potential candidate. He’s never been that altruistic.

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This represents less than half the comments recorded at Quietus, so I’d imagine the employee churn rate must’ve meant that Jeremy and Mike were constantly interviewing new dupes to be put through the mind-blender. And yet somehow, The Sunday Times rated them among the Top Ten Employers in the UK.

Now how did it happen, I wonder, that a Newscorp-owned paper with shared business partnership aims alongside Hotcourses put them among that Top Ten when, in reality, the company was only half a rung up from a Satanic Mill? Even more astonishing is that they achieved this astonishing feat twice running. Former employee PLM offers a clue, however:

I know for a fact that [Hotcourses] human resources collected (incredibly low scoring) completed surveys that were filled out and in envelopes off peoples desks and said, “Don’t worry we’ll send these off for you…”.

Heigh-ho. Could Jeremy Hunt Culture Secretary stoop any lower as an employer? Sadly, yes he could:

‘This [article] rings so many bells of memory that I haven’t thought about in years. It truly was the most awful company culture that I’ve ever had the misfortune to be a part of. The most depressing part of my experience there was during the London bombings in 2005. I was unlucky enough to be in a carriage where 26 people died and 15ft from the explosion. I returned to work after week and a half off in an attempt to bring some normalcy back, only for a second attempted bombing a day or two later. My confidence was shot and I was a nervous wreck again – I returned home via a taxi and spent the next week at home. None of the other upper management or HR ever mentioned it, except to send a letter to my house effectively threatening any continued absence with disciplinary action.’

Larvley Jabbly.

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Each of us will have, in our own individual ways, a personal reaction to this snapshot of Jeremy Hunt’s personality. And on the whole, we will draw our own conclusions regardless of what my observations are. But I am going to add a small footnote here, because it’s been an interesting fortnight at The Slog. One, in fact, during which I’ve spent more time on gum-shoeing and phoning people than normal.

I think some of the best stuff The Slog has ever put out appeared during that period, and ironically site hits have dropped because here have been fewer posts. This does show the futility of chasing hits without considerations of quality; but I have found it incredibibly useful as a means of concentrating my mind on the matters reported here.

I want to put this man’s socially sick and at times disturbing behaviour into a broader context of where Western culture is going, apart from into a sewer of sociopathy. Just to highlight the low-points of this coverage:

* Boris Johnson claiming the Olympic ‘success’ story as his own, inviting Rupert Murdoch as his personal guest of honour, indulging in selfishly-divisive tactics within the Tory Party, and continuing to defend indefensible commercial crookery in every form.

* David Cameron inexplicably promoting to Health Secretary a man whose despicable character surely cannot any longer be a matter for serious doubt.

* That Health Secretary consorting with and being bankrolled by a notorious club-owner, who allowed illegal client surveillance to take place on his premises, whose representatives perjured themselves in Court, and whose website was, for over a year, a known haunt for paedophiles.

* Inaccurately lachrymose coverage of a genuine tragedy that revealed systemic lawlessness within the Yorkshire police force, yet pandered to ridiculous conclusions about where the blame lies for the initial events.

* The emergence of an American-controlled, thinly-disguised vehicle (the TPP) as an agent of multinational protectionism among a business elite which, while spouting endlessly about the virtues of free markets, never misses an opportunity to fix the roulette wheel in favour of the house.

* Yet another bank on charges of drug-money laundering.

* Pissing contests between competing egos (Obama/Romney and Schauble/Draghi) bringing the threat, respectively, of global war and european continent economic collapse another big step nearer. (Added nicely to the Cameron/Johnson version)

* A mindless neocon Presidential candidate (who won’t reveal his tax affairs) raising money for his cause by telling donors that only deadbeats and lazy bastards vote Democrat….this same man having moved thousands of their jobs offshore.

* A disgraced media combine – with a terrifying level of political influence in both the US and UK legislatures, and a depraved record of illegal privacy invasion – revealed to have been up to its neck in police cover-ups involving a case, and attempting to obtain information on senior figures in public life with a view to blackmailing them.

Three years ago, I was writing about similar things, and the three names that kept coming up over and over again were Tony Blair, Lord Mandelson and Gordon Brown. Today they are Jeremy Hunt, David Cameron, and Boris Johnson. All six of this foul crew have been happy to take it up the arse from the seventh, secret samurai – Rupert Murdoch.

And now there really is nothing I can add.

Earlier today at The Slog: New blow for Murdoch as Newscorp accused in murder-trail cover-up