There have been enough instances of British Government ministers being found to have acted unlawfully that it’s legitimate to describe law-breaking and contempt for the law to be official government policy.

First published in July 2021.

We’ve had the claim that tens of thousands of people have needlessly lost their lives because of the British Government’s confused and chaotic response to the pandemic. We have seen the UK suffer the greatest economic damage due to the pandemic of any country in Europe. This has been combined with the highest death toll in Europe and a per capita death toll which is one of the highest in the world. We’ve had multiple allegations that valuable government contracts have been awarded without due scrutiny to friends and associates of senior members of the Conservative party. There have been enough instances of British Government ministers being found to have acted unlawfully that it’s legitimate to describe law-breaking and contempt for the law to be official government policy. We have had so many lies and untruths told without any consequences for the liars that we’ve lost count. The fragile peace settlement in Northern Ireland has been seriously damaged by a British government that lied its way through the Brexit process, reneged on its commitments and then tried to blame everyone else.

Yet throughout this sorry litany of venality, incompetence, chaos and deceit, no one in the British Government has ever so much as offered an apology, never mind been sacked or offered their resignation. That has finally changed with the resignation of the hapless Health Secretary Matt Hancock after a tabloid newspaper obtained CCTV footage showing the married cabinet minister breaking social distancing rules in order to have a snog with a colleague, a woman whom he has been friends with for many years and whom he secretly contracted as an advisor to his department, avoiding the usual checks and scrutiny. But that was merely another sordid example of the chumocracy that passes for the British government these days. However, it turns out that there is after all a line in the hypocrisy sand that can’t be crossed.

What really did it for Matt was breaking social distancing rules in order to have a snog with the woman he was having an affair with. The rules that the rest of us have to abide by don’t apply to Matt, just as they didn’t apply to Dominic Cummings. It was the final hypocritical straw that broke the weasel’s back. He survived the allegations made against him by Boris Johnson’s spurned rent-a-troll Dominic Cummings, who had accused Hancock of repeatedly lying to cabinet colleagues and the public, of presiding over the PPE debacle and the scandal of telling us that he’d put a ring of steel around care homes while their vulnerable residents were being exposed to covid from people discharged into care homes from hospitals on the advice of Matt’s department. He survived giving a lucrative government contract to a company run by some members of his family. He survived a court ruling that he had acted unlawfully by refusing to publish details of how government contracts were awarded.

But after this latest scandal, Hancock had to go. There’s no way he could keep his job after giving public funds to someone he was having an affair with, cough, Jennifer Arcuri, cough cough. Matt Hancock losing his job for having an inappropriate extramarital snog is like arresting the emperor Caligula for breaching planning regulations and not installing enough public toilets in the Colosseum. We’re now at the stage where if someone in this government made a horse an MP and then murdered their sister after impregnating her, Michael Gove would pop up on the Andrew Marr Show to glibly tell us that it was all perfectly acceptable and within the rules of the ministerial code, and besides we really ought to be congratulating him because all those broken seashells and rotting shellfish represent a great victory against the God Neptune, whose turn it is to be president of the Council of the EU for the next six months.

Even so, the first instinct of this government was to close ranks and defend the indefensible. Which was after all only to be expected, if Boris Johnson had had to resign every time he was caught indulging himself in an illicit extramarital snog, he’d still be lying about the EU as a junior reporter for the Telegraph in between penning obituaries for the retired senior civil servants and Home Counties worthies who form the basis of that newspaper’s readership. Now he lies about the EU from Number 10 Downing Street and other people have to write the obituaries for all the people whose deaths he’s responsible for.

Those same Scottish Conservatives who were ceaseless in their demands for Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation have been strangely silent. They’re taking their cue from Michael Gove, who believes that someone ought to draw a line under the whole affair so he can take care of it, as long as that line is formed out of white powder.

Meanwhile, BBC Scotland, which remorselessly and ceaselessly hounds any SNP politician whom it deems to have behaved inappropriately, was very keen on Sunday morning to stress that Matt Hancock’s resignation was really a very sad personal and human story and to encourage us all to feel sympathy for the self-inflicted travails of a serial liar and hypocrite. Personally, I can think of 128,000 very sad personal and human stories right now, a good proportion of which are only very sad personal and human stories because of the rank incompetence and out and out self-interested greed of the likes of Matt and his colleagues.

But yet again, we see that the job of the BBC in Scotland is only to hold power to account when that power is devolved and is held by the SNP. According to the Sunday Times, Hancock conducted much of his official business using a private email account so there is no official record of his communications with those to whom he handed millions of pounds of government contracts. Using a private email account for government business is not in itself illegal or proof of corruption, but it’s a bit like walking into a bank while wearing a woman’s stockings over your head. You might just be there to pay in a cheque that your granny sent you for your birthday, but it’s still going to raise suspicions that you’re up to no good.

Funny how it only becomes a very sad human story when the BBC is seeking to bury the misdeeds of the Conservatives in Westminster. Are the cosy and highly profitable deals that Matt and his colleagues have handed out to their pals and cronies very sad human and personal stories too? You’ll never learn that from the BBC


Wee Ginger Dug, also known as Paul Kavanagh. Blogger.


[This piece was originally published in Wee Ginger Dug’s blog and re-published in PMP Magazine on 1 July 2021, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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