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  • Kara Evans

The Han-Cock-up: WhatsApp Leaks & Tory Un-Truths

BY KARA EVANS


Another controversial Conservative has been flung into the media spotlight, this time due to leaked WhatsApp messages. They show Matt Hancock had little faith in Boris Johnson to lead the UK’s pandemic response and also reveal the former Health Secretary made pandemic decisions that were often politically motivated, rather than in the public interest. Yet again, the former ‘I’m A Celeb’ contestant has taken the British public for fools.


The beginning of the month saw The Telegraph newspaper gain access to over 100,000 private WhatsApp messages between Hancock and other ministerial colleagues, provided by journalist Isabel Oakeshott. The files have outlined the authoritarian stance of the former Health Secretary and reveal he thought people would not hold the government to account for their decisions through the lockdown period. In Hancock’s own words, he ‘wanted to frighten the pants off everyone with the new strain’; when cases spiked he wanted to ‘keep it out of the news’; he nicknamed Rishi Sunak’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme ‘eat out to help the virus get about.’ The lockdown diaries have shown Hancock’s attempts to control the media and attain favourable coverage, attempts to cover up surging cases, and efforts to dodge criticism of the overall failure of this Conservative government.


Hancock has seen himself as a victim, with his spokesperson stating that the latest leaks were ‘spun with an agenda’. Whilst there has been debate over whether Isabel Oakeshott's decision to share the messages was ethical given her position as a journalist and writer, the evidence does reiterate that many Tory MPs continue to put Tory Party politics ahead of public need. If, as the messages suggest, Matt Hancock genuinely opposed the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme in the name of public health, he should’ve said so at the time. Instead, Hancock has been shown to be weak, unable to speak up for what would’ve saved lives and shortened the lockdown.


It is not the first time a Tory MP has abused the power awarded to them by the British public. Rishi Sunak gave a babbling defence of Suella Braverman at the beginning of his premiership, despite her breaching ministerial rules. The Prime Minister has failed to call out Hancock’s errors and deceit, from attempting to control the media to backing policies he actually opposed in private. This has left the British public with no choice but to paint the PM as ineffective and weak, similar to his predecessors and their cabinets.


The Conservative Party have played their cards wrong, with lies making it difficult for them to stand a chance of winning the next General Election (most likely scheduled for 2024). Matt Hancock’s private messages have only added to the downfall of the Conservatives in the, recently chaotic, polls. The lack of accountability, or even a reaction, by Hancock to the ever-growing list of messages has played into the waiting hands of Sir Keir Starmer’s opposition. It has awarded the Labour leader the opportunity to reinforce the image that the Conservative Party is unreliable whilst they represent honesty and integrity.


Upcoming local elections will reflect the public’s perception of continued Conservative cover-ups. Poor outcomes here could leave the Tories with little momentum and energy left in the tank to go on to win the next General Election.


With one suspension already under his belt, these private messages regarding pandemic management will definitely have put the final nail in the coffin for Matt Hancock’s political career. They show him, Boris’ administration, and the Tories as a collective to have been utterly disorganised, as well as lacklustre when it came to protecting lives.


The former Health Secretary has already made it clear he does not plan to stand again as an MP at the next General Election. This will be a relief to many across the country, especially to those in Hancock’s West Suffolk constituency. The people who entrusted Hancock with their vote were left abandoned, not being represented in parliament whilst their MP had a stint as a reality star on ‘I’m A Celeb’. Perhaps more significantly, these messages have shown the public and people’s well-being to be well down on Hancock’s list.


It won’t come as a surprise to anyone to hear another elitist aristocrat has slithered up the ranks of the Tory Party. Hancock has royally made a fool out of the British public and the people who died during the Coronavirus pandemic as a consequence of Conservative cock-ups. A much-needed end to the thirteen-year reign of the Tories in the United Kingdom is the only way for faith in the British political system to be restored.


Image: Flickr/ Matt Hancock Covid-19 presser

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