Britain desperately needs talent at the top
Even those with low expectations of this Government have been shocked by the shambles it has become in recent days.
Three significant U-turns on the Budget would have been bad enough: but other developments have exposed a Government with no coherent direction, exhibiting almost universally poor judgment, and swimming increasingly out of its depth.
It is hard to decide which minister’s reputation is now the most tattered.
George Osborne, the Chancellor, was supposed to be his party’s, and the Coalition’s, master strategist. But any pretence of strategy has been shattered now that his Budget lies in ruins only ten weeks after its delivery.
It has suffered an unprecedented number of U-turns which have contributed to a total of about 35 such reversals across all government departments since the Coalition took office.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s appearance before the Leveson inquiry into Press ethics on Thursday was a public humiliation.
His pathetic attempts to acquit himself of partiality over News Corp’s contentious bid for BSkyB made him look shifty and contemptible.
He had been asked to adjudicate after his Lib Dem Cabinet colleague Vince Cable was removed from the role after being caught in a newspaper sting saying that he had ‘declared war’ on News Corp.
To have sent James Murdoch a message congratulating him on having won EU approval for his company’s bid was an act that only a blithering idiot could interpret as impartial. Mr Hunt texted: ‘Just Ofcom to go!’ (referring to the broadcast watchdog).
Five hours after sending that message, Mr Hunt was handed the quasi-judicial role in deciding on the BSkyB bid.
Shortly after his congratulatory message to James Murdoch, Mr Hunt also texted the Chancellor about Dr Cable’s embarrassment, warning him that ‘we are going to screw this up’.
Mr Osborne, who gave Mr Hunt the first hint of his appointment to the BSkyB role, said in his own, rather smug, text message: ‘I hope you like our solution’.
These devastating text messages suggest collusion among the Tory clique that runs the Government — a collusion designed to give Mr Murdoch’s media empire what it wanted.
Whatever role Mr Osborne had in the transfer of responsibilities from Dr Cable to Mr Hunt, the decision was authorised by David Cameron, whose own appearance before Leveson later this month becomes daily a more fascinating prospect.
The truth is that the Prime Minister looks more out of his depth with every day that passes.