NEWS that Matt Hancock is to take the risk of eating kangaroos’ testicles – uncooked, I assume – as a participant in the ITV reality show I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out Of Here in the pursuit of rehabilitation has drawn howls of mirth, ridicule as well as much tut-tutting from across the media.
His West Suffolk Conservative Party chairman’s comment, ‘I’m looking forward to him eating a kangaroo’s penis. Quote me. You can quote me that’, pretty much summed up the prevailing opinion on the former Health Secretary.
It’s all good for a laugh. First Nadine, now Matt. Dorries set the pace when she ate an ostrich’s anus ten years ago. It didn’t upset her digestion, nor the public’s apparently. She got through her obligatory non-apology for not declaring her fee and hey presto, within no time she was a celebrity on the front bench until resigning as Culture Secretary in September this year.
With such an example before him, I doubt if our Matt is much worried by having the party whip suspended. In fact it’s convenient – he can scarper off to Australia unimpeded by any Parliamentary duty.
Bad though that is, what turns my stomach is not this pathetic I’m a Celebrity stunt or even the money he’ll make from it (some of which he says he will donate to charity); it’s that he’s doing it off the back of the evils he perpetrated as Secretary of State for Health which continue to go uninvestigated and unpunished. How many died in care homes thanks to his policy? It is nauseating that this can be any claim to be a ‘celebrity’.
In case memories are short, here’s a reminder of what this intellectually and morally challenged individual inflicted on the country, and of the taxpayers’ millions he wasted during his tenure at the Department of Health. He certainly seemed to thrive on the power it gave him over this period. In the sarcastically withering words of one TCW writer at the time: ‘Every emergency throws up a leader, a man to bestride the times, and for us that man is Matt Hancock. Here is a politician with his finger on the pulse, or at least his nose in the surgical mask. How the nation thrilled to his rallying cry: “This is not a request. It is an instruction”.’
This was Matthew Hancock at his Department of Health security detail best, setting out the design of a permit system under which people would be licensed to leave their homes or not – a security-proofed plastic card or a wristband issued to those who have undergone tests. Police would arrest those found on the street without the necessary immunity ID.
We may laugh, but every one of this otherwise insignificant man’s actions revealed how quickly he rejoiced in power, abandoning liberty and opting for duress, and how absent was his compassion or respect for human rights.
In the ludicrous Test and Trace money-pit (£37,000,000,000 and counting, that is £37billion for anyone who has difficulty with noughts and double the amount wasted on tons of PPE, now polluting the globe’s seas) he created the perfect Kafkaesque control and management programme which had the able-bodied locked at home and children locked in bedrooms, with no one at work for weeks, services and industries grinding to a halt, on the spurious ground that they had been in contact with someone possibly infected with the almost invariably survivable Covid-19. Our imprisonment by Mr Hancock was as stupid as it was cruel as it was wasteful – and the reason: the unscientific belief in asymptomatic transmission. Nor should we forget that what was always an unreliable if not a downright fraudulent PCR test was inflicted on school children as a condition of their attendance. It was coercive and abusive.
The Public Accounts Committee said at the time that despite ‘unimaginable’ spending, the impact of NHS Test and Trace was still unclear. They pointed out that it was set up on the basis it would help prevent future lockdowns but since its creation there had been two more, and warned that the taxpayer could not be treated like an ‘ATM machine’.
We were – as we know to our cost today
Last but far from least, and lest anyone should forget, it was on Mr Hancock’s watch so many care home residents died, alone, neglected and shut away from their families in conditions of sheer misery – stress, neglect, lack of access to medical attention, understaffing, confusion and despair – and further isolation of an already isolated and often poorly staffed sector. It does not bear thinking about. Yes, of the 48,866 ONS reported Covid-19 deaths up to June 12 2020 in England and Wales, 19,394 or 40 per cent were care home residents. It is a scandal of epic proportions, based on a callous misjudgement for which neither Boris Johnson nor Matt Hancock have been called to account.
It is this that sickens me – and it should you too – not what he eats in the Australian jungle.