Dan Wootton: Matt Hancock thought he was better than us mugs - good riddance to him

Exemptions for work don’t count when tonguing the hired help

Published Last updated

What’s the most embarrassing moment in the career of Matt Hancock – the former Health Secretary.

Gosh, it feels a relief saying that.

As we all now know, it’s this footage leaked to The Sun newspaper.

Here’s the important point: Hancock’s shame is nothing to do with his behaviour although naturally my heart goes out to his loyal wife who he has brutally dumped.

The biggest disgrace of this whole tawdry affair is what it really exposes about the government’s so-called rules.

They are prepared to put through their citizens through sacrifices they would never think to make themselves.

How many people do you know who over the past year:

  • Missed saying goodbye to dying relatives
  • Couldn’t attend funerals or weddings of loved ones
  • Were unable to hug a friend in need
  • Sacrificed critical moments of their youth, from school proms to university graduations
  • Gave up private sexual relations with their boyfriend or girlfriend

That was all down to Matt Hancock. He was puritanical in his ambition to control the public’s behaviour, with enforcement by law if we slipped up.

No excuse was good enough for him. There was no consideration of personal responsibility. Matt Hancock inserted himself into every aspect of our private lives. He was metaphorically in our living rooms, in our gardens and, yes, even in our bedrooms.

But Matt Hancock was just like virtually every other politician – a hypocritical fake. While he was going out in public for over 15 months to insist that even the slightest blip in our behaviour could – and I’ll never forget this – “kill your granny”, his behaviour apparently didn’t count.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock with adviser Gina Coladangelo (left) outside BBC Broadcasting House in London after his appearance on the BBC1 current affairs programme, The Andrew Marr Show. Mr Hancock has been accused of having an affair with the adviser to his department.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock with adviser Gina Coladangelo (left) outside BBC Broadcasting House in London after his appearance on the BBC1 current affairs programme, The Andrew Marr Show. Mr Hancock has been accused of having an affair with the adviser to his department.

Behind-the-scenes at the Department of Health, there didn’t seem to be any masks or social distancing. And despite denying millions of young single Brits the opportunity to start new relationships, married Hancock believed he deserved the opportunity to begin a new romantic chapter in his life. He was breaking his own law of banning gatherings of two or more indoors. Exemptions for work don’t count when tonguing the hired help.

He was probably a serial offender, whose fines could have been in the thousands. It makes a mockery of his constant claims he was devoting all his energies to taking the UK out of this pandemic and the constant cycle of devastating lockdowns he argued for. If that were the case, why was his lover Gina Coladangelo by his side at virtually every moment of his working day? If that were the case, why did he announce to his wife that he was leaving her within hours of being alerted of The Sun’s footage?

This entire scandal should give the Conservative government pause for thought. Taking such a draconian approach over how to treat fellow human beings is not only cruel, but also hypocritical.

The British public were largely prepared to make sensible sacrifices at all the key moments throughout this pandemic, weighing up personal risk and the health of their fellow citizens. We actually didn’t need the publicity-obsessed Hancock wheeled out every five minutes to reel off infuriating lectures like the primary school teacher who all the students just love to ignore.

His legacy during this pandemic will be forever tarnished by his behaviour in private. While there are clearly questions to answer about how the footage was leaked to The Sun newspaper in the first place – a story GB News is very much pursuing – I understand the fury within his department given his rank hypocrisy. Hancock thought he was better than us.

Hancock thought he was superior. Hancock thought there was one rule for him and his mates and another for us mugs. He has seriously damaged the public trust in any future coronavirus regulations the government tries to enforce. Good riddance to him.

I understand the fury of the public and no wonder the numbers were so high at anti-lockdown marches in London yesterday.

The media either ignore the demonstrations altogether or denigrated these protestors for freedom as anti-vaxxers. That’s unfair and untrue. No wonder there is disillusionment when the BBC and ITV and Sky devote hours of coverage to the protests of causes they deem worthy, like the anti-Iraq marches or Black Lives Matter or Extinction Rebellion, but ignore a massive and growing anti-lockdown movement.