By Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns
“There is no present or future - only the past, happening over and over again - now.” ― Eugene O'Neill, A Moon for the Misbegotten
I am reminded of that quote every time there is a drawn-out ministerial resignation. Matt Hancock had been caught in flagrante delicto with his mistress, Gina Coladangelo, whom he appointed as a non-executive director of the Department of Health and Social Care last year. Unlike previous decades where ministers were forced to resign if they were caught with their trousers down, in the 21st Century, marital infidelity is not enough to destroy a political career. I feel sorry for his wife and three children, as well as the husband and three children of Gina Coladangelo. That should go without saying, however, I must say it.
From March last year, Matt Hancock looked down various camera lenses and stood at the despatch box in the House of Commons lecturing us. We have been told what to do and at times, when we can do them. He told us that we couldn't hug a close relative, even if they were dying. Many of the regulations signed into law by him as Secretary of State were inhumane. My mother celebrated her 80th birthday on 25th April. Matt Hancock told me that I couldn't give her a kiss and hug. But whilst he was telling me that, he was breaking his own rules and laws whilst cavorting with his mistress.
He should have offered his resignation as soon as the revelations were revealed by The Sun newspaper. But he didn't. He was determined to hang on at all costs. As I said to Kevin O'Sullivan on talkRADIO on Friday evening, Hancock "has no integrity, no honour, [and] no decency about him."
To make matters worse, Boris Johnson, in what can only be described as a fit of arrogance and hubris, issued a statement saying that he accepted Hancock's apology for breaking Covid rules and that the matter was closed. But of course it wasn't: the voters of the United Kingdom made sure of that, and after another day of appalling headlines, Hancock eventually resigned.
If he had not resigned, Hancock would no longer have been taken seriously, if indeed he was taken seriously before. He had lost all moral authority to lecture us; to tell us what to do. A laughing stock.
The British people will put up with a lot; the last fifteen months have proved that, but what we will not put up with is rank hypocrisy. Hancock seemed to think he could tell the British people to "do as I say, not as I do", but in the end, he was not allowed to get away with it. Thank God for a free press.