Well, goodbye, good riddance and ‘get lost’ to Matt Hancock. The man described by one colleague as “paranoid and a total wet”. The total panicker* whom the Prime Minister should never have left in charge of a whelk stall, let alone the UK Covid response.
Hancock’s incontinent and incoherent eagerness to do anything and everything his “experts” told him to has destroyed lives and livelihoods across Britain.
Case in point: our 22-year-old daughter, an NHS healthcare assistant. She hanged herself in April.
She had fought mental illness since her early teens but seemed to be finding a growing sense of stability as she moved into her twenties. Getting the NHS job in 2019 really helped her.
But then came coronavirus. And Hancock.
Despite being mentally vulnerable, our daughter was put on the NHS staff ‘shielding’ list. She was made to stop work and told to isolate completely in her one-bedroom flat, initially for three months.
Thereafter, she was psychologically battered, like the rest of the country, by the effects of Hancock’s toxic conviction that he was heroically “controlling the virus” by bending public behaviour to his will. Accordingly, he presided over a multi-hundred-million-pound, year-long propaganda campaign of half-truths, exaggerations and outright lies designed to amplify public perception of risk.
Hancock’s prescription for the electorate was cruel and pointless, especially for someone like our daughter, who’d been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD).
BPD sufferers – believed to number around half a million in the UK – struggle to maintain a realistic sense of proportion about normal life at the best of times. When they are stressed, for example if they feel they are being bullied, they are prone to catastrophic lurches into self-doubt, paranoia, self harm and suicidal impulses.
As an NHS worker, our daughter didn’t need to be asked do her bit to help the health service and people at risk from Covid. Yet there was Hancock keeping her and tens of thousands of other NHS workers at home. And simultaneously bombarding the country with expensive adverts demanding we blame ourselves for not doing enough.
When she was switched to working from home on her NHS Trust’s internal contact tracing activity, our daughters’ cognitive dissonance only intensified. Aside from a couple of weeks in the middle of the second wave, she usually had few or no calls to make since even her fellow health workers were rarely becoming infected or sick by that stage.
No hugs for the workers
Yet Hancock, absolutely submissive to the cabal of serially-wrong modellers and power-addicted behaviourists at SAGE to whom he was in thrall, kept on spaffing out dire warnings of deaths and health service collapse if someone like our daughter got so much as a hug from her family or friends.
She did get those hugs, of course, though at the cost of being made to feel needlessly guilty by Hancock’s mendacious advertising campaigns. What was a she supposed to do? Trust her own experience and rationality, or be ‘good’ and go along with Hancock’s gimlet-eyed fanaticism?
By March this year, our daughter’s mental reserves were worn paper thin. Although she hid it from us and her friends, she started to self-harming again and slowly descended into a spiral of depression and excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs. Then the prospect of finally getting back to working on the ward again gave her hope and a reason to break the cycle. She had both her vaccination shots and went in to be fitted for a proper N95 mask. But in mid-April even that hope started to fade as Hancock and Co. came out with the inevitable noises about not ending lockdown in June …. because drone, “cases”, done, variants, drone, models, drone, drone, drone …. meaning she might be kept on the mostly-futile tracing activity indefinitely.
One night she hanged herself in her flat. She didn’t leave a note.
We’ll never know what finally tipped her into embracing the absolute blackness she’d successfully fought back from so many times before. We can say from her diary and things she said that the government’s recklessly disproportionate, needlessly prolonged and cruelly manipulative response to the virus was clearly a factor.
Hancock didn’t set out with malice aforethought to kill anyone, our our daughter included. But he was happy enough to strut around as the figurehead of a policy that effectively made Britons the victims of an abusive relationship with this government.
He was not apparently overly-concerned when his family and a former local pub landlord won juicy NHS contracts even as researchers from Bristol University warned that the long term economic damage and misery caused by his beloved lockdowns could lead to twice as many lost lives as Covid.
If Hancock had an ounce of integrity, he would have resigned over his first disastrous move: to decant elderly NHS patients into care homes, there to die in their thousands. If Boris Johnson was not as weak and indecisive as Hancock, he’d have sacked him for it – or for any one of his later mistakes and misdemeanours.
Now Hancock is gone. Not for screwing up his country by prostrating himself before every janky modeller and fanatical behaviourist who got his ear. Not even not for illicitly shagging an ‘out of his league’ woman that he’d given a part-time job to. But for breaking social distancing guidelines. For hugging his shag-ee FFS!
Frankly, our daughter wiped better things than Matt Hancock off her patients’ backsides while she was alive. I wish him everything he deserves for the rest of his life.
See A State of Fear: How the UK government weaponised fear during the Covid-19 pandemic, by Laura Dodsworth, page 72