Don’t Be Surprised At Hancock | Jake Scott
The news broke last night that Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has been caught having an affair with his aide, Gina Coladangelo, after encouraging the country for the last year to avoid hugging our loved ones and not engaging in promiscuous sexual activity in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
It is worth remembering that Professor Neil Ferguson, the leading epidemiologist who was responsible for the government’s pandemic modelling, was dismissed for similar behaviour last May, remarking that it had “undermined the messages on lockdown”. And, he was right to do so; similarly, the uproar surrounding Dominic Cummings’ now-infamous trip to Barnard Castle was indicative of a public exasperated at the seeming double standards on lockdown rules.
And yet, Mr. Hancock has refused to resign. Why is this? What gives Mr. Hancock the immunity from the consequences of his actions? In any normal circumstance, this would be grounds for resignation: but this is a man who has also prioritised his friends’ businesses for government contracts, and consistently failed to miss his own targets on the handling of this pandemic.
The answer is simple: the government truly sees itself above criticism. The recent G7 Conference in Cornwall was testament to this; despite performances that tried to show off the world leaders’ adherence to their absurd rules – bumping elbows and wearing masks – the masks came off, quite literally, the second the cameras were turned, with Biden and Macron embracing and Trudeau and Johnson standing shoulder-to-shoulder, with very much uncovered faces. We seem to be living in a time of lockdown theatre, with our leaders putting on an excellent show but showing their bare, true faces only to each other.
But this is not new to the Tory Party. Since the Profumo Affair, the Conservatives have consistently proven themselves to be lacking in the very moral fortitude conservatism seeks to uphold. From the Edwina Currie affair with John Major, to James Gray’s shameful cheating on his wife whilst she died of cancer in 2007, the Conservative Party has a track record of failing to stand by the morals they lecture all the rest of us on.
What is remarkable, is the media seem to implicitly accept this, focusing not on the infidelity of either party – Mrs. Coladangelo is also married – but on the fact that she is a ‘taxpayer-funded aide’. Have we really lost sight of our public morality to such an extent that we judge an action by how far it hurts the taxpayer only? Does this mean if Matt Hancock had had an affair with an employee of a private company, we would not have cared?
There is a certain part of this that is endemic to democracy: climbing the greasy pole never encourages honesty and integrity, and Matt Hancock is only one expression of this. But at the height of a pandemic, such bare-faced hypocrisy should not be tolerated. If Hancock does not go, the Conservative Party will lose the last of its integrity.