Mr Hunt’s seven-day diary
Exclusive extracts from Jeremy Hunt’s diary covering tumultuous events at home and at work
Trouble getting the children to bed. They want to stay up to watch a DVD.
After several minutes of fruitless discussion and a number of significant concessions on my part it is clear that we will be unable to reach a deal.
I have no option but to impose a new bedtime.
The news is not well received, but I remind them that as a minister of her majesty’s government I have the power to change bedtime with immediate effect.
Early-morning run. Stop off on the way back to pick up the papers.
The quality press is starting to turn on the doctors. The Daily Mail has a very sensible and balanced piece comparing Dr Mark Porter of the BMA to Arthur Scargill of miners’ strike fame.
I remember my first encounters with the BMA leaders and my surprise at finding them in decent suits with scarcely a cloth cap or northern accent between them. Like a lot of dangerous leftists, they know how to blend in with ordinary people. No doubt the black puddings and whippets only come out after my negotiating team has left.
The children’s leader intervenes in the hope of re-opening talks about bedtime. I am disappointed in Mrs Hunt, who had ample opportunity to reach a negotiated settlement over breakfast, but was not prepared to give any ground.
I let her know in no uncertain terms that the time for talking has passed. Any sign of weakness on my part would open the way to a new era of collective bargaining and further unrest.
She does not speak to me for the rest of the day, which I take as a sign that she is coming round to my point of view.
To our local pizza parlour where we Hunts mingle with other ordinary working people of Pimlico. When the food arrives, I explain to the children that their pocket-money is to be recalculated to reflect the changing pattern of family life. They will now receive several smaller increments amounting to slightly less than they receive now. When the new earlier bedtime is factored in they will be considerably better off – albeit on a pro-rata basis.
I thank the manager personally for a good meal and the complimentary dough-balls. I note that the standard of service is every bit as good at the weekend and commend the cheerful disposition and work ethic of the eastern European waiting staff, which is in marked contrast to the militancy of junior doctors.
I fire up the NHS Employers Tip Calculator app on my iPhone and leave a suitably generous settlement for the waiter.
Another ploy by the BMA, which is offering to call off the next strike if I re-open talks. If my years as a leading marmalade exporter taught me anything, it’s that there’s no place for dialogue in a successful negotiation.
Besides, the British public would never forgive me if I let the withdrawal of emergency cover get in the way of my commitment to patient safety.
The bedtime controversy continues to rage in the Hunt household, but of course I shall not back down. I can and will impose a new bedtime, but on the advice of Mrs Hunt I have softened my language and now talk about the “introduction” of the new sleeping rota and pocket-money arrangements.
Arrive home to find the junior Hunts have mounted a protest at the front door, where two of them, dressed in pyjamas, are handing out leaflets to passers-by.
I beat a hasty retreat and slip in through the back way to avoid an ugly confrontation.
David rings me for a chat. He says that my tough stance against the BMA means I’m in line for a significant change of role very soon. I tell him I still feel I have a lot to offer as health secretary, but he declines to discuss the matter further, explaining in his “significant concessions from Brussels” voice that his decision is final.
A man after my own heart!
Home affairs editor: Julian Patterson
Newsletter November 2016