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21st November 2022

You’re not a celebrity Hancock, get out of there

Amid his farcical tenure as Health Secretary, treating Matt Hancock as a celebrity in the jungle is an insult to millions
You’re not a celebrity Hancock, get out of there
Photo: Number 10 Downing Street @ Flickr

Embarrassed at the state of British politics? Exhausted by those in charge failing to take political processes seriously? Concerned about petty distractions from the cost-of-living crisis? Well, there’s no time to rest! Your former Health Secretary is now on telly every night eating bull penis.  

Yes, the very man who insisted we stay inside during the pandemic has now entered the jungle as, apparently, overseeing the country and health service through a devastating pandemic sets you up for celebrity stardom. Hold the phone to the constituents of West Suffolk, I’m afraid your elected representative is too busy being a star. 

As part of this real-life episode of Black Mirror, as The Guardian aptly puts it, Matt Hancock is being paid £400,000 to appear on the show. That’s almost half a million Great British pounds awarded to a largely failed politician, who broke his own guidance when he snogged somebody in his office, to have maggots chucked at him for nightly entertainment. Have you ever heard of something so quintessentially British?  

Upon being asked during his first few days in camp why he’s even there, Hancock replied: “Why? Because, all politicians are known – and me in particular – for being in a very sort of strict way of being. Which is just not actually how we are”. I’d argue the British public is hyper-aware of Hancock’s aversion to strictness. Whether it’s lockdown rules or the binding contract that is marriage, Hancock has never been the blueprint of a strict rule-following politician. 

Hancock officially insists he’s in there to promote his dyslexia campaign. I’m unsure how ethical a dyslexia awareness campaign can be when its promoter is personally taking home just shy of half a million quid. Likewise, none of the dyslexia awareness might even make the cut to be shown on telly. 

In my view, Hancock had a taste of celebrity life when his extramarital lockdown affair awarded him tabloid stardom. I think he quite liked how it felt. Hence, since then, he’s gone on Steven Barlett’s Diary of a CEO podcast. Hence, he’s now in the jungle. As somebody who now knows that he’ll likely never work in frontline politics again, why not keep his relevance alive in a cheapened celebrity form? To be fair to him, it’s a form that pays extraordinarily well. 

Or perhaps, more dangerously, Hancock is hoping to be a sort of second coming of Boris Johnson. Another supposedly hilarious and relatable bumbling Brit who likes a laugh and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Then suddenly, before we all know it, they’re back in frontline politics hiding their political agenda behind the oratory of a lovable and laid-back Brit. 

Another danger with this TV stint is that it’s being confused as Matt Hancock taking accountability for his actions and mistakes during Covid. Do not be fooled, oh viewers of ITV. There is a huge difference between a politician engaging in a hard-hitting interview with an experienced journalist, or even a local radio station, than going onto a game show.  

The former is the way to take appropriate accountability. The latter involves a few days of tension or a couple disputes getting dismissed for the sake of “the camp getting along”. All contestants eventually come to the conclusion that it’s easier for everybody to be chummy with Hancock, and that “he’s only human”. That’s the damaging consequence of this supposed form of accountability. Matt Hancock gets away with a mere slap on the wrist because he ‘fell in love’, and we’re now all supposed to be fine about what he did. 

For a start, Hancock should be aiding the clear up from the short-lived Truss regime – one he endorsed. He should also be doing his actual job, which involves engaging with and representing the people of West Suffolk. But if this is too much for him, the least he can do is show the slightest bit of remorse in camp. 

Boy George was tearful upon Hancock’s entry, having nearly lost his mum during the pandemic. Likewise, Charlene White pointed out that for bereaved families like hers, “sorry” doesn’t cut it.  

It was the tone with which Hancock insisted he didn’t break lockdown rules, just guidance. It was as if he found his campmate’s request for a display of remorse farcical. He then went on to detail that what he’s looking for, merely, is a bit of forgiveness.  

It was guidance that dictated I wear gloves, a mask, and a plastic gown when I went to see my dad in the hospital in August 2020. It was guidance that ensured only two members of each family could visit ICU patients for one hour at a time. I was extremely lucky that a particularly sympathetic NHS doctor let my mum and I stay much longer, something I’m grateful for every day. I can guess with almost full certainty that the NHS doctor who humanely helped us to bend guidance is still probably doing ICU night shifts and not faffing about the jungle with a half-a-million paycheque on its way.

Guidance meant I couldn’t touch my dad’s coffin, not even for ‘love’. So frankly, I do still find it pretty ridiculous that Matt Hancock, in the words of Babatúndé Aléshé, was “grabbing booty“, for the same reason.

On that note, lest we forget how much of a smack in the teeth this whole stint is to NHS staff themselves. Hence, bereaved families have recently paid for a 35-foot banner to fly over the camp.

I, for one, do not forgive Matt Hancock. I frankly never will. I intend to stop watching this series of the show altogether. His presence on the show, let alone the blasé tone he uses to casually mention his mistakes, is an insult to all the British people who followed Covid guidance. Not to mention the people who were unable to be with their dying loved ones, sit together at funerals, or celebrate lives that were sadly lost alongside friends and family. 

To Matt Hancock I would call upon the words of the immortal Lady C. Indisputably I’m a Celeb’s most entertaining contestant of all time and general societal deviant. Fittingly, she said this from the jungle itself. Matt, “darling, you are so full of sh*t, that if you had an enema you would simply disappear off the face of this earth without trace”. 

Libby Elliott

Libby Elliott

Editor-in-Chief 2023-24 | Awarded Outstanding Contribution to The Mancunion and Fuse TV Presenter of the Year at the 2023 MMG Awards | Former Co-Investigations Editor | Shortlisted for the SPA2022 Rising Star Award |

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