Jeremy Hunt and other ministers on the ropes
The Saturday Independent and Sunday Times both had polls this weekend showing that large majorities think Jeremy Hunt should resign. But I’d be wary about taking that at face value.
Even by the standards of political outrages, the Jeremy Hunt news has the feel of a story that would only interest politics fans. It’s about something that happened in the past and has since stopped, it’s about rules rather than incompetence or greed, and it only affects most people’s lives at some future point.
But the proportion of the public who currently think Hunt should resign is very high. In fact, compared with other ministerial resignations and near-misses of recent years, Hunt has the highest number saying he should go:
(NB, of these, only Liam Fox and David Blunkett resigned – see below for links to data)
I find it particularly striking that Hunt’s resignation scores are higher even than those for Charles Clarke around the foreign prisoner debacle.
Yet, I’m still not convinced this tells the whole story.
One factor is certainly that the current government is more unpopular than most of those in charge during the previous crises.
And given that, I have a feeling that some of the response to the Hunt story is driven more by a feeling that the government deserves a good kicking, rather than a real evaluation of what he is supposed to have done.
This is borne out by the proportions who say they don’t know whether or not particular ministers should resign. Around a quarter say this about Hunt, more than all the others, suggesting that fewer people have thought about this story enough to have a strong opinion:
So it’s true that among those who have a response to a question about Hunt, most think he should go. But the high proportion of those who don’t have an opinion suggests this is still a story that hasn’t fully caught the public imagination.
The polls each ask the question in slightly different ways. Most are very similar, though the Jacqui Smith one is phrased in an odd way that asks two separate questions at once.
They’re available at:
David Blunkett (first resignation)
Charles Clarke (speculation, but no resignation)
Theresa May (speculation, but no resignation)
Jacqui Smith (speculation, but no resignation)