On the list of “Stuff That Is Indisputably True”, the statement “Conservative MPs are absolutely terrible at speaking to the press” sits somewhere between “pizza is class” and “so are chips”.
Astonishingly, despite all the expensive media training, whether Tory politicians are robotically stammering through answers they’ve memorised, or pretending to cry on TV, they still, invariably, manage to come across like that guy from Men In Black, who’s secretly a giant cockroach, pretending to be a British politician.
The pandemic has not helped this situation, particularly because the Conservatives have been forced to wheel out their odd middle son – Health Secretary and walking viral quote-tweet, Matt Hancock – for the cameras every two minutes over the last year.
It is a pity that Hancock has been forced to become such an important and high-profile fellow of late. This is true both for members of the UK population at large – who, en masse, have to try very hard not to smash whatever they are holding whenever he appears on television – and for the Tories themselves, because the man could win an Olympic medal for being absolutely fucking useless at interviews.
Hancock’s latest on-air pasting happened this morning, at the hands of TV’s own Puce Wonder, Piers Morgan. Asked repeatedly by Morgan whether he regretted voting against extending free school meals for children over the school holidays and into the UK’s third lockdown, Hancock wouldn’t answer the question. Instead, he said he would “use his own words” to describe his feelings on the situation, which is fairly objectively vile in theory, but as a bonus was also excruciating to watch in practice:
Based on the fact that this is one in a long line of many Matt Hancock TV fuck-ups, I have some questions:
1 - WHY DO THE CONSERVATIVES KEEP LETTING MATT HANCOCK ON TELEVISION?
This is the main one, really. The thing about Hancock is that he has form for just… acting weird. Remember during the 2019 election campaign when he did a media appearance with the chair of Warrington Conservatives, and it looked like he spent most of it trying to, uh, smell her?
Since Hancock’s rise to further prominence during the pandemic, the hits have really just kept coming. We’ve had Pretending to Cry About the Vaccine, Sounding Remarkably Like a Supply Teacher Who Has Utterly Lost Control of Year Eight at Press Conferences – and now this! You’d just keep him off air, wouldn’t you?
2 - JUST HOW ‘GLAD’ IS MATT HANCOCK?
There’s a real embarrassment of embarrassments nestled within this two-minute clip, but probably the worst is the sheer number of times Matt Hancock says the word “glad”, which I make to be eight.
He’s “glad” that the situation – that is, feeding children who might not otherwise be fed while not in school – has been “resolved”, despite actively voting against the resolution of that situation. His dominant emotion, apparently, is “glad”.
Which is strange, really, because it actually looks like he’s about to fucking vomit.
3 - WHY IS PIERS MORGAN BETTER AT INTERROGATING THESE PEOPLE THAN THE LABOUR PARTY?
It is an enormously depressing state of affairs that a man who once, live on air, pretended to gag on a pastry item for attention – and who regularly espouses terrible views on a whole range of subjects – is probably the person who has most consistently held members of the government to account throughout the pandemic. And yet that is where we find ourselves.
What makes this sting even more is that Piers Morgan seems to have got more answers for the public out of the Tories – even by virtue of what they refuse to say – than the official Leader of the Opposition, Keir Starmer, gentleman scholar and Adult In The Room. It’s good, I think, that the main people providing clarity on whatever the fuck is going on are a morning TV presenter, via social media cut-downs of his interview segments, and a 23-year-old footballer. I think that is a great way for a country to run.
4 - ARE THE FEW SECONDS WHERE YOU CAN ACTIVELY SEE HANCOCK MALFUNCTIONING THE WORST THING THAT HAS EVER BEEN TELEVISED?
I’m sorry to draw your attention to the thing that happens between 1:13 and 1:17 in this video. But address it we must. Go back and rewatch it now, and then come back here.
What we’re seeing here, in real time, is Hancock weighing it up, and ultimately deciding that, actually, it’s not necessary for him, the Health Secretary of the UK, to show remorse for the fact that, when he voted on it, he didn’t think spending money on food for children who needed to be fed was worth it. That he looks and sounds like a modem that needs to go in the bin while he’s doing it is just the butter on the Tory shit sandwich.
5 – HOW MANY MORE GMB APPEARANCES CAN HE POSSIBLY DO BEFORE HE: A) IS FORCED TO RESIGN OR B) EXPLODES INTO A MASS OF UNPLEASANTLY COLOURED GOO LIVE ON AIR?
My estimate is a smooth “two”.