‘AND in camp there is our campmate, Matt, who is, God love him, doing every single trial, every day, and bringing back stars so we can eat.’ So spoke former Radio One DJ Chris Moyles about his fellow I’m a Celebrity contestant. His is but one voice in an increasing chorus hailing the redemption of disgraced Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
The media seem to have decided that Matt’s Boy Scout attitude of enthusiastically mucking in, even when it comes to facing real snakes rather than the Westminster variety, is now what matters most about him. The Daily Mail has even run an article in which journalist Katie Hind gushes that ‘charming, self-deprecating and buff Matt Hancock is the crush I never thought I’d admit to’. Yet admit to it with teenage giddiness she does.
That this cruel and callous politician who has so far escaped investigation for the evils perpetrated on his watch should not be a ‘celebrity’ at all seems to have escaped them.
The virtue signallers seem more concerned about Boy George’s clear dislike for Hancock, presenting this former ‘Health’ Secretary as the victim and the man whom Hancock prevented from seeing his seriously ill mother in hospital as the bully.
Of course Boy George is a controversial figure himself, having served time for assault and false imprisonment. But that doesn’t make his lockdown-induced heartache any less. His suffering is just a tiny piece of a mountain of misery caused by making the NHS the National Covid Service and a blinkered Covid lockdown policy. Matt Hancock cannot escape the huge responsibility he bears for the enforced isolation that led countless of the most vulnerable in society, the old and disabled, to suffer and to die without the contact of their loved ones. Many believed that they had been abandoned. The horrific consequences of lockdowns, the late diagnoses, worsened illness, missed education, delayed child development and impoverishment will be with us for years, perhaps decades.
So many of us have our own ‘lockdown story’, or I should say ‘lockdown tragedy’, to tell. I shall always wonder whether propaganda-induced fear of getting medical help contributed to my father’s heart attack in April 2020. Lockdown certainly prevented me from seeing him in those crucial weeks before his death. Then there was a wonderful young lady I befriended during my six months as an inpatient in a psychiatric clinic. Ellie was warm-hearted, loved quirky, vibrant vintage fashion, books, live music and her friends. The last two of these kept her going after she was discharged. Once all that was taken away by lockdowns and Covid restrictions, her anorexia filled the void and she gave up. She was 30 when she died in March 2021. There are many Ellies, many deaths and so much suffering, all triggered by a flick of Hancock’s ministerial pen.
The supportive I’m a Celebrity campmates and media seem to have separated Matt Hancock the culpable Health Secretary from ‘Jungle Matt’, their amiable, enthusiastic companion and winner of many Bushtucker trial stars for their food. Whether or not Hancock is putting on an act in the jungle is irrelevant. History cannot be whitewashed, nor redemption for mass suffering and deaths gained, by eating a kangaroo’s penis.
Chris Moyles again: ‘I may have voiced my opinion about Matt Hancock before, but in here, the star-winning Matt, he’s doing all right.’ Loving accounts written by the families of high ranking Nazi officers come to mind.
Until opinions are formed on the basis of striving for truth, justice and decency and not self-interest, society is lost. We really are doomed to repeat the evils of history because we fail to learn any lessons. There is no better insight into how ordinary, morally upright Germans allowed their nation to slide into the worst fascist tyranny than a book by Sebastian Haffner called Geschichte eines Deutschen (The story of a German). The English translation has the title Defying Hitler but that misses the tragic beauty of the original. Haffner’s story is of an ‘Everyman’, a story that echoes the experiences of millions of Germans. He observes that a tendency amongst Germans to bury themselves in das Alltägliche, ‘mundane everyday life’, was both ingrained and dangerous. As long as their family, friends and day-to-day business remained unaffected they could ignore the looming political clouds. This impulse to turn selfishly inward is not uniquely German but fundamentally human.
We have seen it spectacularly clearly during lockdown. ‘Oh, I had a great lockdown, with my extra time to do baking with my kids, learn new languages and enjoy my lovely home and garden’ reflects the attitude of so many. Furthermore our failure to look beyond what benefits us and our loved ones may rebound on us. They could impose lockdown again. In a heartbeat they could once more close the NHS to the majority of ailments, close schools, drive the mentally vulnerable into deeper illness, isolate the old, let people die alone, cause deaths . . . Unless we stop gaslighting the victims of Covid lockdowns and vaccines by embracing Matt Hancock as a ‘likeable’ celebrity rather than holding him to account for the evil he oversaw and promoted, it could all happen again. I for one will fight until my last breath not to let that happen.