As the news broke that Matt Hancock had broken his own Covid rules by kissing a woman who he employed on the public purse without declaring the interest of the personal relationship, there was so much opportunity for reactions. And the British public did not fail.
While out this weekend at my local pub (which won no contracts from Matt Hancock’s department), punters walked up to me to share their disgust and amusement at the unfolding events. My husband sitting opposite, sipping his pint, remarked how ludicrous it was that this was the thing that might bring Hancock down when, in his words, “the man is responsible for decisions and failures that led to the highest death rates from Covid-19 in Europe”. And bring him down it did.
My husband lost his brother during lockdown. He died after battling a long-term illness during which he had to be housed in a local nursing home. My beloved parents-in-law had to spend the last year that they had with their son with very restricted access to him. At times they could not visit him together; at times they could not visit him at all. My husband saw him only a handful of times, and at his funeral we could not gather together with our beloved family, who the rules stated we could not embrace, after a limited service.
We planned to have a bigger celebration and gathering for him this June around the time of his birthday; however, once again this was not to be. We were pragmatic and understanding throughout. Our distance, which caused much pain and heartache was for the greater good. Ordinary people did things for the greater good, while the great and not-so-good laughed in our faces.
Hancock has resigned for breaching the rules, albeit only after the pressure to do so became too much. Not initially, he wasn’t resigning sorry 24 hours earlier, just ”oops I got caught” sorry. I notice in his resignation letter and furrowed brow video there was no sorrow about the conflict of interest in using tax money from people like my lovely grieving mother and father-in-law to employ his “friend”.
I have no idea what qualifies Ms Coladangelo, a lobbyist and communications director to be an adviser and non-executive director at the Department of Health and Social care, other than the fact she has been pals with Hancock for years. Perhaps we know now why Hancock failed at the time of the appointment to declare his “friendship” with her. In her time of advising him, Hancock oversaw the highest death rates in Europe from Covid, so the value of this appointment was seemingly for him, not for us. The whole thing stinks. It stank even before the videos of the kiss.
Hancock thanked those who worked in the NHS and care services for their sacrifices, which were, of course, because of the lack of preparedness by our government, a lack of appropriate protective clothes, and the releasing of Covid patients without tests to care homes. Sacrifices such as those heartbreaking stories of nurses and doctors living in hotels away from their loved ones in order to protect their patients. Sacrifices that Hancock couldn’t make himself and was really sorry about once he’d been caught.
The fact that the prime minister, Boris Johnson, was happy with the now ex-secretary of state’s explanation is not a surprise – the prime minister likes his ministers to be hopeless. He wouldn’t want to be shown up, after all. Johnson should have sacked Hancock. The matter was not closed. Johnson should have sacked Dominic Cummings. Johnson should come out from behind his fancy “I promise I paid for them myself” curtains and promise that he won't allow any more hopeless ministers, or those whose friends get some serious benefits off the back of the country’s pain to be in his cabinet. But he won’t.
Sajid Javid is back – already having full knowledge of how dysfunctional this government is. It is a tough job, but at least he knows failure will be tolerated.