If Matt Hancock said he could jump the English Channel in a single bound, Kier Starmer would say, “The public has no desire to watch this man drown.”
Matthew John David Hancock, The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and a man whose parents only managed to whittle their baby name list down to the three dullest names they came across, has been found to have acted unlawfully in his handling of contracts given out to private companies in securing personal protective equipment (PPE).
The details of the High Court verdict rest on rules regarding the transparency of the Government’s mega contract corruption bonanza. This is ironic, given that the actions of the current ruling party of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland are what scientists describe in academic terms as “bleedin’ obvious”. Hancock and his party have used the pandemic to hand out cash to pals in return for nothing, and have done so with all the subtlety and misplaced confidence of a bilious, middle-aged streaker at a children’s charity cricket match.
Hancock (who it can’t be proven wasn’t a young boy curse by a Zoltar machine to wake up one day as a more or less grown man and whose infantile lack of empathy and utter belief that the real reason people don’t invite him to parties is their inferiority landed him in the Tory party) appeared on Andrew Marr’s telly show where he not only refused to resign or apologise for being found to have acted unlawfully but tried to spin his actions as heroic. His defence was that he had no time to focus on making sure the public knew how he was spending their money when he urgently had to get PPE. He can’t do two things at once, Marr, back off!
Sadly, Hancock isn’t brilliant with numbers. In the same way he wasted billions of pounds on PPE that has never arrived, arrived too late or arrived but had to go straight into the bin, Hancock struggled to get to grips with the numerically cyclopean figure of “one”, and the infinitely incomprehensible unit we can only describe as “two ”. That is to say, Hancock had two teams at his disposal. One responsible for procurement and the other in charge of making contracts transparent.
But that’s just one of those details only political wonks on Twitter can comprehend, like why we cling to the idea that MPs should be referred to as “Right Honourable” or that Black Rod is an official position in the House of Commons and not the racist nickname for a man named Rodney or a D&D +1 enchanted staff with bludgeoning damage (which is also magically racist). You can’t expect the man in the street to get to grips with the details of the case when we’re all so excited being incredibly angry about it.
Enter, Kier Starmer, Leader of the Opposition. The man who the left hate more than they hate the Tories. Some of that hate is borne out of the belief he is a factionalist, which here means, “won’t do all the same things that made the last Leader of the Opposition immensely unpopular, a constant target for the press and handed the Tories their biggest majority since Thatcher.” But the growing progressive media needn’t have worried. Starmer seems to be doing a pretty good job of making himself unpopular on his own terms.
Napoleon once said, “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” Starmer has either never heard this or has heard it and with his famous forensic reasoning thought “ See this Union Jack, huh? That’s what the people want. What have you got to say to that, Napoleon? Nothing, that’s right. Because you’re dead. You French idiot. Flags! Flags! Flags!”
Seeing which way the wind was blowing — all those Union Jacks are helpful after all — Starmer decided to go in the exact opposite direction and refuse to call for Hancock’s resignation, saying that it’s not what the British people want. Now, he might know this as a fact. Perhaps that morning he’d demonstrated the keen, decisive leadership of a true revolutionary politician by asking a focus group what they think he should think.
If this is true, Starmer must be as eager to distance himself from his past as a crown prosecutor as he is his past as a socialist (he refers to himself as a ‘moral socialist’ a compromise carrying both the lack of convictions to win the left while still scaring the shit out of the centre). It is the equivalent of him standing up in court and saying, “members of the jury, we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the man you see before you is guilty, but honestly, he’s pleaded innocent and I don’t see how it’s my job to convince to convict him. The prosecution rests. No, fuck it, I’m calling for a mistrial. Bailiff, please restrain, me! Better yet, hold me in contempt. What do you mean ‘too late’?”
Maybe Starmer was scared that calling for Hancock’s resignation would make him look like an opportunist. It’s an established fact Labour would never stoop so low as to take an opportunity to fight the Tories when there’s so much infighting to be had. Starmer has had members of his party thrown out for antisemitism, or at the very least, the bad press associated with antisemitism. Perhaps he assumed that Boris Johnson, on his throne of skulls and empty wine crates painted like buses would do Starmer’s job for him; casting Hancock out while letting Starmer avoid criticising a government struggling in a crisis.
The one major flaw with that plan is that the concept of accountability and cause and effect has been so thoroughly eroded in the Tory Party that in Number Ten stray pens knocked from desks or goblets of virgin blood spilt at nosferatu sex parties don’t fall to the ground as gravity dictates. The float through the air or disappear or transform into obscenely exclusionary policy papers with zero predictability or relation to facts. After all, science is just a way to predict how our things in our universe should behave, but saying how things should and should behave is clearly no different than the tyranny of cancel culture, dammit! For too long scientific reason has gagged the free speech of the maelstrom of chaos, just like it stopped people from pretending that slavery didn’t happen or that if a statue is removed the past disappears somehow.
There are political actions, but there is no equal and opposite reaction because there is no opposition.
The sad fact is, whatever Starmer’s tactic, in a way he’s right. He isn’t the leader of the Opposition, he’s just standing at the entrance of the political graveyard of political integrity and opposition are buried, nodding to the occasional visitor and reassuring them that everything is being kept nice, even if it is dead.
Within days the public will forget about this when the Government claims some vaccine victory or reveals anyone ordering a vegan sausage roll will be punished under the Witchcraft Act of 1735. Maybe Britain is apathetic and the bastards have won. Maybe Hancock is just the bad boy of British Politics and we love his maverick attitude. Perhaps Starmer is just bidding his time, waiting until the nation is healthy again so he can fight the Tories on fair and equal ground, without opening himself up to accusations of politicking. And maybe the Tories will call him Captain Hindsight when he does, laughing their tits off about it. Not because it’s funny, but because it works and he falls for it every time.