Hunt may wish Sky News man only called him C-word

Jon Craig cast doubt on Jeremy Hunt’s leadership ambitions as well as repeating the famous spoonerism

Column LAST UPDATED AT 12:28 ON Tue 12 Jul 2011

Not for the first time the phrase "Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt" has proved beyond the linguistic capabilities of a television presenter and the Tory minister has ended up being called a cunt.

The perpetrator this time was Sky News reporter Jon Craig - and he didn't stop there. He went on to say that Hunt's political ambitions to become the leader of the Conservative party were "in tatters" because of his handling of the BSkyB bid.

Craig said Hunt's performance at the despatch box yesterday when he made his statement to MPs that he had referred the BSkyB bid to the Competition Commission was less-than assured. The culture secretary looked shaky and ill-at-ease.

Craig - known by colleagues as 'Not Wrong for Long' - is regarded as a shrewd judge of political horseflesh. So his verdict on hapless Hunt will count against the minister's rise in the Cabinet when the dust over Hackgate finally settles.

Being an employee of Murdoch, Craig may be counted as brave, because he was putting his finger on a very important factor concerning Hunt that was referred to in yesterday's Mole.

Hunt is part of the pro-News International cabal in the Cabinet and has been weak in his handling of the BSkyB bid from the outset, signalling that he would give the go-ahead to News Corp taking over BSkyB because it was ready to hive off Sky News.

The shocking truth is that Hunt is still taking his lead from Murdoch. Because Murdoch withdrew the offer to hive off Sky News BEFORE Hunt went to the rowdy House of Commons to announce his decision to refer it to the Competition Commission.

Murdoch is playing a canny game. By withdrawing the offer to hive off Sky News, he was in effect telling the culture secretary to refer the bid, which he had previously refused to do.

Murdoch is buying time. It delays the bid, but does not kill it off. It makes it more likely that it will go through, once the dust has settled, if Hunt is still in office. Cameron can now only clean up his own act by getting rid of the supine Hunt. It is time for Cameron to get off his knees. ·