Sunday 5 March 2023

Scarred By Matt Hancock

More revelations have come out about Matt Hancock following the leaking of his Whatsapp messages by his ghostwriter Isabel Oakeshott. What the leak reveals, among other things, is that Hancock knew government policies were killing people, but he helped cover this up and had a blasé attitude to the whole thing.

And to think, this man often conducted his interviews with a ridiculous grin on his face and so often laughed at journalists. The man who wiped an invisible tear on TV might be the most sinister figure in UK politics, and given the competition from Suella Braverman, that’s almost an achievement. (I’m not sure what the opposite of achievement would be, but that’s what it is.)

The UK could not have done worse if we had appointed Joseph Goebbels as Health Secretary. Our nation has been scarred by Covid-19 and we have been scarred by Matt Hancock, in many cases quite literally, given what the virus does to the lungs.

We all have our stories to tell and our pain to bear. While I never lost someone directly to Covid, my childhood friend - a father of three - died from a heart attack and while I can’t be certain Covid played a role, I strongly suspect that was the case. Covid played havoc with the hearts and lungs of many people, including my own, and Hancock and his cohorts could not give a crap about what they did to us.

Three kids lost their dad while Hancock was dumping his wife and three kids for his girlfriend with total disregard for the lockdown rules his government imposed on us. To make matters worse, his wife was suffering from long-Covid after contracting the illness from Matt himself.

It really makes my blood boil.

I was among the first people in the UK to contract Covid-19 on Friday 13th March 2020. Covid was just reaching these shores and the government was dithering on school closures, despite the chaos that had taken place in Italy over the previous three weeks. I could see the dithering was dangerous so I made the decision that my kids would not attend school the following Monday and as luck would have it, that very same day I started experiencing symptoms.

While I wasn’t scared for myself, I remember feeling unnerved there was this virus inside of me that we knew very little about, other than it was going to kill millions. My body was hosting a deadly enemy and all I could do was imprison myself in a room for the best part of a fortnight.

My Covid symptoms were considered mild, but I suffered fatigue and breathlessness to the point I would open the window to help me breathe. This sounds more concerning than it was and I was just eager to get back to normal, but the thing is I never did.

Even when my cough cleared up, my chest remained inflamed. I would get palpitations and breathlessness and waves of extreme fatigue while newspapers were suggesting that people who had not recovered in the first two weeks were likely to die! It was unsettling to say the least.

I remember mowing the lawn one sunny day and just sleeping for hours afterwards. The fact I couldn’t shift these symptoms concerned me much more than the initial infection did. Even worse, no one knew about long-Covid at the time - this was before we had testing or vaccines - and whenever I spoke to a doctor, they seemed to think I was making it up.

So I just dealt with long-Covid as best as I could. I would walk my kids to school and tell them to stop halfway because I was so faint I could not continue until I regained my breath. When I continued walking, I was taking baby steps but I felt like a 90-year-old man.

Over time, the severity of my long-Covid eased, but I still experience the symptoms to this day and probably will for the rest of my life. Recently I started running again to build up my cardio because I was worried about what my lack of fitness was doing to my long-term health.

In my twenties, I used to go on four-hour-long runs, now I’m running for five or ten minutes and feeling wiped out afterwards, but at least my fitness is gradually improving after three depressing years.

When it comes to long-Covid, I’m actually one of the lucky ones. Obviously, many people tragically lost their lives, but what’s talked about less is that many more are suffering severely from long-Covid, including younger people. I was reading about a sufferer today who is wheelchair-bound.

One in ten people are suffering long-term health impacts from Covid and the way the government dismissed the risks to younger people is a huge betrayal. Given what I and millions of others have gone through, the least we should’ve been able to expect was a government that gave a damn, but that was clearly too much to ask. Matt Hancock’s leaked Whatsapp messages reveal an unsurprising but disgraceful lack of regard for human wellbeing.

Let’s take Eat Out to Help Out, for example.

This was the £840 million scheme to give mostly middle-class people 50% discount vouchers for restaurants while Marcus Rashford was fighting the government tooth and nail to feed working-class kids. Most working-class families could not afford to eat out, even with a voucher so this scheme was of no use to them. Not that eating out was remotely a good idea.

The messages reveal Hancock and the government were fully aware that the scheme was causing cases of Covid to soar. In other words, they knew it was costing lives and if they had the slightest scrap of integrity, they would have resigned, but instead they covered it up. If this is not a crime, it really should be.

Given the serious nature of the above, you would expect a sombre and professional tone going forwards, but instead we got “jokes” like the one below. These people really thought their democide was funny.

And when they weren’t joking about their murderous policies, they were attacking the teachers they decided to sacrifice so that frontline workers could return to work to protect corporate profits. 139 teaching professionals died and Hancock thought the teaching unions were “a bunch of arses”.

Imagine being a Tory MP and accusing others of hating work when the government spent the entire pandemic having drunken karaoke nights in Downing Street. I’m not sure if it’s self-awareness or shame they lack.

Just look at how Hancock threw his girlfriend Gina Coladangelo under a bus to take the heat off him when they were caught snogging. Here he is, encouraging his media adviser to keep the focus on the controversy surrounding Gina’s appointment to a position on his department’s board. What a gent.

I understand Gina Miller has written to the Metropolitan police commissioner, arguing there are grounds for Hancock to be prosecuted for “gross negligence manslaughter”.

Hancock must be worried, given he recently told lawyers he should be immune from court action because the entire government should take the blame, rather than him as Health Secretary. The man was appointed to make these decisions, but he doesn’t want to be held responsible for them, even when he disregarded expert advice.

Given Hancock described a couple’s £10,000 fine for breaching quarantine as “superb”, this wreaks of hypocrisy. Hancock privately mocked people in “shoe boxes” in quarantine and criticised police, asking “who actually is delivering enforcement” and insisting: “I think we are going to have to get heavy with the police.”

Hancock wanted everyone else to be held responsible for their actions, just not himself. A lack of legal accountability is exactly why catastrophic policies with deadly consequences keep happening. If a poor person kills someone, it’s murder, but if a government minister kills thousands, it’s just politics

Remember, a court has already ruled that Hancock’s decision to discharge Covid-positive patients into care homes was unlawful, but the court did not know he was acting against the advice of Chris Witty. When he claimed he was following the science, he was actually ignoring it. Surely this is gross negligence.

The High Court also found Hancock acted unlawfully by handing out PPE contracts to his mates in the VIP lane, and yet he has not faced any consequences for his actions. Instead, he got to participate in a reality TV show in a failed attempt to convince us he is a national treasure, but soon he could be under investigation.

It’s not just Gina Miller who Hancock has to worry about though because Isabel Oakeshott has more dirt on him and she is not above blackmail. She has warned Hancock: “I’m not going to deploy nuclear weapons, but I have them… He should not poke the hornet’s nest.”

This, of course, is a disgraceful approach. If Oakeshott has information that’s in the public interest, she should publish that information, and if it’s not in the public interest, she should keep it private. Presumably, she has evidence that’s even more damning about Hancock’s handling of the pandemic, and if that’s the case, that evidence could be useful in court. Could this be one of those rare occasions when a former minister is actually held responsible for their crimes? I’m not holding my breath, but the people deserve justice.

I doubt I will ever be the same again, thanks to long-Covid and millions of others can say the same. Our safety must never be jeopardised by our government again and only criminal prosecution would be an acceptable preventative measure.