If there really is no such thing as bad publicity, then Matt Hancock is an absolute master of PR.
Over the past few months he’s barely been out of the news.
There was the allegation of cronyism when it emerged a firm he had shares in with his sister had received contracts from the NHS. The best bit? The company specialised in shredding documents.
There was the explosive testimony from Dominic Cummings (granted, not the most trustworthy fella himself) over Hancock’s performance during the onset of the pandemic: “I think the Secretary of State for Health should’ve been fired for at least 15, 20 things, including lying to everybody on multiple occasions in meeting after meeting in the Cabinet room and publicly,” the 3D-chess fan recalled.
There was the Whatsapp message from Boris Johnson to Cummings, describing Hanock as “totally f***ing hopeless”.
His media appearances have become memes too, whether he’s standing uncomfortably close to female reporters, attempting to deploy crying mode in front of Piers Morgan and Susannah Reid, or engaging in some casual street parkour.
And this week, the photo of the “steamy clinch” with aide Gina Coladangelo, which became the video of the “steamy clinch” with Gina Coladangelo. If you’ve already watched it, you have my sincerest condolences at this difficult time.
Hancock knows how to pull focus, but for all the wrong reasons. He is the figure of fun, the running joke. That’s some achievement in a cabinet that also includes Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Dominic Raab.
The slight downside to all this, of course, is that he’s also the public official who has to deliver all that fairly important information around Covid rules and restrictions.
There are already obvious signs that public patience with the prolonged lockdown is starting to seriously fray, at a point when the Delta variant could still do serious harm among the sizeable population still unvaccinated in the UK.
With no sign of a resignation, once again it seems it’s one rule for Tory ministers, and another rule for the rest of us.
Remember, this is the man who went out of his way to criticise the behaviour of Professor Neil Ferguson last year, who had broken lockdown rules to visit his lover.
“It’s extraordinary. I don’t understand,” Hanock told Sky News at the time. “I think the social distancing rules are very important and people should follow them.”
Who can blame the public if they never listen to a word Hancock has to say ever again? The joke’s on him.
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