New texts published by Dominic Cummings allege that Boris Johnson called Matt Hancock,“totally f***ing hopeless” in terms of his testing and procurement policies.

The messages were the latest grenade lobbed in the war between the former adviser and the Health Secretary, after the two presented contradictory narratives about the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in evidence sessions to Parliament, and “hopeless” has become the refrain of lobby journalists and opposition politicians used in their scrutiny of the government.

It is also a charge Hancock swiftly denied but one that causes us to reminisce about the minister’s track record.

Is Matt Hancock hopeless? We couldn’t possibly say. And yet... he’s had his moments:

1. When he used social media

Hancock has a habit of posting weird clips on social media that are routinely mocked by absolutely everyone. Given he has claimed expenses on software to help make his Twitter pop, it’s a shame he comes out with things like this:

2. When he overslept

In 2013, then a junior minister, Hancock was due to appear on ITV’s Daybreak to defend the Conservative’s job policies. Unfortunately, he failed to get out of bed in time and claimed he “overslept” so missed the interview. It happens to the best of us...

3. When he made an app with dodgy data policies

The Matt Hancock app exists, we are afraid to say. Launched in 2018 to update constituents about what he is up to, the app quickly became a site for s**tposting and mockery and even data issues. Pat Walshe, a data protection and privacy consultant, said there was no privacy policy on the app’s landing page - a breach of Apple’s guidelines.

Meanwhile, Silkie Carlo, director of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, told Sky News: “The Matt Hancock app is a fascinating comedy of errors.

“It is quite fitting, given this government’s incompetence on digital privacy issues, that our digital minister’s app steals a bank of users’ personal photographs, even when permission to access them is denied.”

In response, Hancock dnied it breached security standards because it uses “Apple technology” and said it would be better than traditional social media platforms because it gave “complete editorial control”, community moderation and user privacy.

“I’m delighted to have the chance to use this to build a safe, open and accessible online community for my West Suffolk constituents and I to engage with the issues that matter to them,” he told Sky News.

Swing and a miss.

4. When he got 20 votes for Tory leader

Hancock put himself forward as the next leader of the Conservative Party in 2019. But he quit, and endorsed Johnson (shrewd) when he came sixth in the first ballot of Tory MPs and garnered the support of just 20 of his colleagues.

5. When he forgot his mask

In October 2020, weeks before England entered the second national lockdown because of, you know, coronavirus, Hancock was pictured in a chauffeur driven car sans mask, acting against the advice his own department made. It’s not like he is the Health Secretary or anything...

6. When he acted unlawfully on Covid contracts

In February, a High Court judge ruled that Hancock acted unlawfully by handing out coronavirus contracts without publishing details in a timely way.

The legal challenge brought by three opposition MPs and the Good Law Project over contracts running into hundreds of millions of pounds to supply face masks and other PPE. Hancock and the government consistently argue that it is right to act fast in a crisis.

7. When he criticised an MP’s “tone”

Hancock was accused of being sexist because of the way he spoke to shadow health minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan in May 2020.

Allin- Khan, who worked in A&E during the crisis, had asked him about a failure to test frontline workers for Covid-19.

The Health Secretary told the MP for Tooting, South London, to “take a leaf out of the shadow secretary of state’s book in terms of tone”,

Ex-Labour deputy Harriet Harman said: “Something creepy about a man telling a woman to watch her tone! Worse that he recommends she adopts the tone of another man. I suggest Matt Hancock changes his.”

8. When he called Marcus Rashford “Daniel”

When Marcus Rashford campaigned for the government to provide free school meals for children over the school holidays, he became a household name. At least, to most:

Hancock later blamed it being “early” in the morning, which he have learnt in his antidote to competency, and then also said he had been listening to Harry Potter audiobooks with his children so was thinking about Daniel Radcliffe...

9. When he couldn’t remember when lockdown started

Over the summer, Hancock claimed the first national lockdown occurred on 16 March 2020 and not 23 March:

He was accused, not for the first-time, of lying.

10. When he sang karaoke

“Don’t stop me now!” Hancock belted at a Tory conference afterparty in 2017, but we wish someone had. The clip resurfaced last year and was mocked by many unfortunate people who viewed it.

11. When he stood too close to Wendy Maisey

Poor Maisey. The chair of the Warrington Conservatives probably didn’t expect her personal space to be invaded when she hung out with Hancock on broadcast in 2019 while campaigning to be a Conservative MP.

12. When he tried to moonwalk

Need we say more?

13. When he learnt parkour

Again, need we say more?

14. When he walked like a zombie

Hancock has made himself a meme too many times to include. He has run away from reporters, claimed he was too busy saving lives to watch Cummings’ coronavirus testimony and has had awkward chats with Sky News journalist Kay Burley about casual sex, for instance.

Perhaps most alarming, though, is when he walked around like an extra from Shaun of the Dead recently:

Our Health Secretary, everyone.

Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)