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Matt Hancock’s walk of shame

13 Nov 2022 4 minute read
Former cabinet minister Matt Hancock PA Images Beresford Hodge

Ben Wildsmith

“Grimacing Aneurin Bevan retches as he is forced to eat camel penis, sheep vagina, and cow’s anus during gruesome I’m A Celebrity eating trial”, would have made a startling Daily Mail headline in the 1940s.

Substitute “Matt Hancock” for Nye and my interest wasn’t even piqued enough to watch. So jaded have I become with the tawdry lightweights that populate Westminster, I translated the headline to: “Grubby Little Man Does Grubby Little Thing” and carried on with my day.

It’s 25 years since William Hague was accused of demeaning the office of Leader of the Opposition because he allowed himself to be photographed wearing a baseball cap on a log flume. Tellingly, as it turned out, he was pictured at the top of the log flume, having innocently chugged up there from a world that still knew shame.

Was the fall of Rome like this? Were underpaid Centurions further burdened with tedious news of Nero’s exploits in the vomitorium when all they wanted to know was whether they could afford the bill for the underfloor heating they now regretted inventing?

Dismally, much of the press has contrived to confect a moral debate over whether the TV show is the right setting for the former Secretary of State for Health to issue an apology to the nation for his conduct during the worst pandemic since the Spanish Flu.

How awry does your compass need to have got if you are even considering the possibility that Boy George might be an appropriate confessor for everything that went on during Mr. Hancock’s stewardship of a national tragedy?

As he munches his way to four hundred grand, it will be interesting to see what thoughts Hancock has about the planned nurses’ strike.


If you are encumbered with friends or relatives who are blanching at the nurses’ 17% pay demand, I can recommend a jolly little game where you get to adopt the crass, reductive stance so beloved of Tories and turn it back on them.

‘17% is ridiculous, the country can’t afford it.’

‘You believe in the free market, right?’

‘Yes, I have Milton Friedman’s face tattooed on all my children’s arms.’

‘Well, there’s a shortage of 40 000 nurses. What happens to the price of something when it’s in short supply?’


‘Oh, indeed.’

You can further twist the knife thusly…

‘But there might be a way to make up the shortage quickly…’

‘I knew it, the free market never advantages public sector workers!’

‘Yes, all you have to do is reverse your immigration rules.’


There, in a nutshell, is the hypocrisy of Brexit orthodoxy laid bare. Subtracting thousands of overseas workers would, we were told, cause wages to rise. Now, here we are in that exact scenario and anybody wanting a higher wage is accused of fuelling inflation.


‘Our NHS’ was the supposed beneficiary of a process that has seen it stripped of its overseas workforce whilst those remaining watch both major parties deny the market reality of their pay demand.

The NHS that was plastered on Boris Johnson’s bus is purely conceptual. Like Paddington Bear or James Bond, it exists as an emotional touchstone to be invoked whenever it is expedient to manipulate the electorate.

The actual NHS, as experienced by those who work in it or are treated by it, is as remote from what they had us banging pots for as performative memorialising at the Cenotaph is from a Flanders trench.

As people wait for days in A&E departments and are advised to take taxis rather than wait for ambulances, we must be clear-eyed about who is responsible for their suffering.

The usual suspects will be wheeled out: the Civil Service, NHS managers, diversity programmes etc. will all take a ritual shellacking from those with a vested interest in defending the state of the UK as it stands.

Historically, nurses have been immune to direct criticism from government, owing to the respect they command amongst the electorate.

We used to say that about miners, though, and a little government disinformation goes a long way.

Enjoy the spectacle of Hancock eating the nether regions of exotic animals in the jungle.

Forcing him to do it is the nearest thing we have to accountability.

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Chris Hale
Chris Hale
22 days ago

Excellent article. Completely agree about the hypocrisy and one rule for us attitude.

George Thomas
George Thomas
22 days ago

“Forcing him to do it is the nearest thing we have to accountability”

But we’re not forcing him to do it, he’s volunteered because he thinks it will help people move past their anger at his (and wider Tory government) running of the health service.

So much money thrown at his (and other government official friends) for such a poor result with so many people dying because of his bad decisions – one shouldn’t get over this because of a camel penis.

Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
22 days ago

That was such a good article I feel like smoking a cigarette….

[Insert my usual demand for annibyniaeth based on points made in the article here]

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
22 days ago

Another Sunday masterpiece. Da iawn.

22 days ago

I would like to believe that Matt Hancock is doing this because he intends to surprise us all by donating his £400k fee to the homeless and needy, or the NHS, or cancer research etc. as a form of apology. However, the best thing that could happen is that his P45 is awaiting him on his return, without a fancy payout and pension, and to be told never to enter politics again.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
22 days ago
Reply to  Frank

Given that his wife kicked his adulterous backside out he would probably keep it and claim he was the homeless.

DAI Ponty
DAI Ponty
22 days ago

The Problem is Hancock is the same as all Tories they have no SHAME and worship GREED AND MONEY their Motto is DONT DO AS WE DO YOU DO AS WE SAY

20 days ago

Best article I’ve read in years. Thanks for cutting through the excrement.

18 days ago

George would have no problem eating penises and anuses but would draw the line at vaginas.

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