The slithy tove can – and must – be dragged before a Select Committee and made to answer for his actions and the vast hurt they have caused


Within days of Sue Gray, the investigator of Partygate, being announced as Sir Keir Starmer’s new chief of staff there was an Urgent Question in Parliament. Quite right too. When it comes to judging the conduct of a Tory government, the civil service is about as impartial as a Taliban commander at a girls’ reading group. But was that really the national question most urgently in need of an answer? For eight days now, The Telegraph has published the most breathtakingly damning stories about the misuse of power (and “science”) by Matt Hancock and his cabal during the pandemic. I don’t know about you, but having read so much about their callow political posturing and callous disregard, especially for children and the elderly, my Outrage Bucket is empty and I am reduced to throwing up bile.

And what has been the response to these horrors within the House of Commons? Not a dicky bird.

Thankfully, the Prime Minister has at last made it clear he at least isn’t happy. Today (Tuesday) Downing Street issued a rebuke.

But elsewhere, the deafening silence from the majority of politicians, and parts of the media, can only be professional embarrassment, maybe even shame. I do hope they feel at least a sliver of shame for their failure to hold the legislature to account during an unprecedented and frightening confiscation of our civil liberties. Her Majesty’s Opposition not only failed in that solemn duty, like many influential broadcasters they actively egged on the Government to impose ever more unevidenced draconian restrictions.

The WhatsApp messages revealed in The Telegraph’s Lockdown Files are not exactly lacking in material for our democratic representatives to shout about. Every day a new jaw-dropper.

I particularly enjoyed the WhatsApp exchange which revealed Matt Hancock’s enthusiasm for offering NHS beds to French Covid patients at a time when the Secretary of State for Health (a Mr Hancock) was telling the British people not to bother their health service lest it become “overwhelmed”. Wasn’t the second lockdown we were all living under at that time enforced, quite aggressively as I recall, to prevent a “medical and moral disaster” if hospitals ran out of capacity? Did we perhaps sleep through the press briefing in which Matt divulged, as he did in a letter drawn up to his French counterpart, that the UK epidemic was “largely in the North of England” so there was some spare capacity in London and the South?

Sorry, silly me; I forgot. Matt said he wanted to “frighten the pants off everyone” to keep us all behaving like good boys and girls. So sharing reassuring news – “Our hospitals are coping surprisingly well with spare beds in the East and the South” – would have been out of the question because it would have weakened his control over us. What had begun as a commendable impulse to keep people safe had warped, without any necessary scrutiny, into, “How can we keep power?”

Even in the South West, where the bountiful, Tiggerish Hancock proposed to house French patients, the prime minister had said only weeks earlier that, “It is now clear that current projections mean they will run out of hospital capacity in a matter of weeks unless we act”.