“Look, I didn’t get in to politics for this,” said Matt Hancock, announcing lockdown two to the House of Commons.
Sadly, he didn’t say what he *did* get into politics for, either, but now was not the time to talk about having a undergraduate degree in politics, a large amount of self regard and a shortage of other ideas.
Less a man more a Greek myth, these days, Matt Hancock. Or maybe we, the mere public are the myth. Tormented, as we are, never to know why it is Matt Hancock got into politics, given only daily if not hourly reminders of why he didn’t.
Matt Hancock, we presume, also didn’t get into politics to spend £12bn on a test, track and isolate system that doesn’t work. And we know for certain he didn’t get into politics to take his country out of the European Union. And yet somehow, here he is, feet under the cabinet table, while all of this stuff he didn’t get in to politics for just goes on and on around him.
What a terrible pity Matt Hancock didn’t get into politics for perpetual war, misery and destruction. On current evidence, that would likely have ended with Matt Hancock accidentally ushering in world peace and endless human prosperity. “Look,” he would have said, “I didn’t get into politics for this,” as the people of all nations beat their swords into plough shares.
“I didn’t get into politics for the deathly tides to sweep back into the ocean, for the polar ice caps to refreeze. I didn’t get into politics for the sound of birdsong and children’s laughter. But, this is where we are.”
Yes, this is where we are. Back in March, for all intents and purposes. Well, not quite back in March. We’ve built a test, trace and isolate system since then, that sort of kind of works if you just switch it off and back on again and give it a hard enough whack in just the right place. We’ve also borrowed, and spent, about £250bn. Oh yeah, and we can’t really go outside anymore, because it’s winter, not summer.
But let’s not dwell on all that. Matt Hancock didn’t get into politics to dwell on all that and nor should you.
“Things will get worse before they get better,” Matt Hancock wants you to know. And they will. They really will. Much worse.
How much worse, of course, depends on where you live and what you do for a living. If you’re in Liverpool, all the pubs are shut. Which is good news if you run a pub, because you can apply for government support.
If you’re in London, you can still go the pub, but only with people you already live with, who there’s a fair chance you’ve seen quite a bit of recently, so maybe, just maybe, you won’t bother. And if you run a pub, well you’ll have to stay open to serve all those customers that aren’t coming, and so there’ll be no support for you. And yes, you might be angry, but look, Matt Hancock didn’t get into politics for this, okay, so don’t start having a go at him.
“I know that there are brighter skies and calmer seas ahead, “ he said, just as he and the rest of them did six months ago. “That the ingenuity of science will find a way through.”
The ingenuity of science best get a wriggle on then. Because the ingenuity of Matt Hancock isn’t getting us very far at all.