Andrew Pearce: Jeremy Hunt’s headache… will the budget cost him his seat?
Jeremy Hunt promises “impressive” spending cuts and tax hikes in this week’s long-awaited budget, an event he seems to be approaching with, dare I say, sadistic delight.
But his eagerness to impose a greater tax burden on the middle classes could have disastrous consequences for his political future.
For Hunt, a weak hand has been dealt in the proposed changes to parliamentary constituency boundaries, which were published last week to become law next summer.
Hunt’s South West Surrey constituency has been split in two, making both new seats too marginal for the Conservative Party. He is not very pleased with the prospect. He said, “I need to understand the implications of the report, which are horrific for me personally.”
Jeremy Hunt has been dealt a weak hand in proposed changes to parliamentary constituency boundaries, which were published last week and became law next summer.
Having proudly represented Godalming, Farnham & Haslemere (and their surrounding villages) for over 17 years, it seems I would have to choose between two halves of a constituency that is essentially split in two – a frankly impossible and heartbreaking choice. There is now a four-week consultation and I am not going to rush into this particularly difficult decision.
Having represented a constituency that has always returned a Tory MP since its inception in 1983, Hunt knows his budget is not what the Tory faithful want.
And it leaves him facing the prospect of electoral humiliation in 2024 – the first post-war Chancellor of the Exchequer to lose his seat in a general election.
Leading presenter Dame Joan Bakewell wasn’t always a fitness model.
Recalling her early days at the BBC, the woman dubbed ‘the thinking little man’ in less enlightened times told Roger Bolton’s Beeb Watch podcast: ‘People could call, and sometimes we faked that and called in our own messages. Many people used to do it, Barry Humphreys was one because he could do so many voices, he would pretend to ring and say, “I am absolutely shocked and disgusted by what is on BBC TV at the moment.”
Humphreys was surplus to requirements once clean-up campaigner Mary Whitehouse had her footsteps.
- With the Church of England embroiled in the debate over allowing same-sex marriage, there is an unfortunate misstep in the Church Times. The image includes a portrait of the Bishop of Dudley the RT Revd Martin Jurek and the Bishop of Worcester RT Revd Dr John Inge under the title: “Gay Marriage: Two Bishops of Worcester and Dudley Next to Announce to the Public”.
When deputies really felt the pressure
Sir Gavin Williamson prides himself on being the most hardened man as a master whip
His time as Minister in three administrations is nothing to be proud of, but Sir Gavin Williamson prides himself on being the most solid man as whip-master.
Compared to the previous incumbents, it was Pussycat. When Labor’s Jack Straw was the new MP, Deputy Chief Whip Walter Harrison approached the future Home Secretary, grabbed him by the testicles and squeezed hard. ‘What did you do?’ Straw cried. “Now,” Harrison said menacingly, “but think what I’ll do if you cross me.”
- Imitator John Kulshaw has perfected the art of being Rishi Sunak for Radio 4’s Dead Ringers – and he did it by listening to Tony Blair recordings. Sunak is widely seen as following the former prime minister’s style for years. “I perfected Snack after taking Blair’s precision and chopping, toning it up and making it smoother,” explains Culshaw.
- Before he takes off into the woods, former health secretary Matt Hancock has pledged to donate profits from his upcoming diary to NHS charities. Let’s hope his insider account of battling Covid-19 does more business than his 2011 book, Masters Of Nothing, about the banking meltdown. Hancock’s share of the royalties was £409. PS Finally someone has something nice to say about Hancock. Georgia Toffolo, who won I’m A Celebrity in 2017, is warming to him. She tweeted: ‘He should have resigned (as an MP) and then taken on the show – you can’t do both. but . . . He comes across okay okay! Tele is cool and he’s lovable too.