Voices: Matt Hancock is the gift that keeps on giving

Matt Hancock’s Pandemic Diaries sadly come to an end before the point at which he gathers together more than 100,000 secret WhatsApp messages sent between the most senior figures in government in the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic.

There is to be found within it no account of the moment he maybe pauses for just a second to think about whether he absolutely, definitely wants to send all this highly sensitive information to a journalist with whom he disagrees about basically everything, so that she can help him write his entirely self-serving Pandemic Diaries, before deciding “it’s probably fine” and hitting the send button.

This means we have to wait for volume two, Matt Hancock: The Camel D*** Years (working title), for a first-hand account of the moment at which someone rang him late at night – and very much not for the first time – to warn him of the contents of the front pages of tomorrow’s newspapers.

So for now, we can only imagine the wearied sigh that left his lips as he learned that a journalist best known for one of her sources landing in jail had decided to betray his trust, and publish all 100,000 of these messages in The Daily Telegraph.

As always, one’s heart bleeds for Matt Hancock. What must it be like to trust someone so completely, only for them to decide that they mainly only care about themselves (or, allegedly, “the public interest”)? To make you look ridiculous on the front pages of the papers? The poor, poor man.

Naturally, the journalist in question, Isabel Oakeshott, has written a 2,000-word essay on why she really had no choice but to do what she did. It bears no small relation to the last time she wrote the exact same piece for The Sunday Times in 2013, when she explained how, though Chris Huhne’s now ex-wife Vicky Pryce had gone to prison for taking his speeding points, she was the real victim, because Pryce had been speaking to other journalists too (and of course, again, “it was all in the public interest”).

The main allegation is that Matt Hancock was told he definitely shouldn’t be allowing people to be admitted into care homes without testing them first, but that he overruled the advice. He says this allegation has been carefully edited, so as not to include the context that there wasn’t enough testing capacity at this stage; that there was, in effect, no choice, and that the government’s advisers agreed with him.

Naturally, it’s hard to know what to believe; though we’ve been here before.

Not that long ago, Oakeshott decided it would probably be fine to just put an allegation out there, regarding David Cameron and the head of a dead pig. She wasn’t really sure if it was true, but someone had sort of maybe said it to her. So, you know, best to just publish it and let people make their own minds up, which is fine. Absolutely fine.

Meanwhile, for anyone who simply can’t wait for the next instalment of the Pandemic Diaries to find out why on earth Hancock handed over so much information that was so embarrassing to him to someone so utterly hostile to absolutely everything he believes in, there are clues already out there.

A few months ago, Oakeshott wrote in The Spectator that she had “not been paid a penny” for her ghostwriting work with Hancock. So it may well be that the job of “Rewriting history in the form of a made-up diary that makes Matt Hancock look like a hero (salary: none)” did not receive all that many applications.

In hindsight, it’s possible he maybe wishes he’d never written them at all. But hindsight’s a wonderful thing. Indeed if you go on YouTube, and look deeply enough into the centre of his pupils while he’s sinking his teeth into a cow’s anus while Ant and Dec piss themselves laughing, you can kind of hear his soul saying the same thing, shortly before it leaves his body altogether.