MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: Matt Hancock's failures are no laughing matter

MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: Matt Hancock’s failures are no laughing matter

Once again a leading supporter of imposing stringent rules on the rest of us has been caught not taking his own position seriously. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s not-very-funny joke about the failure of his own much-hyped tracking and tracing system is yet more evidence that the Government does not even believe its own propaganda. So why should we?

We have already had Professor Neil Ferguson’s extramarital lockdown adventures and Dominic Cummings’s wild ride to Barnard Castle. Now we see this. 

If the virus outbreak is as serious as we are told, can such behaviour really be excused?

Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s not-very-funny joke about the failure of his own much-hyped tracking and tracing system is yet more evidence that the Government does not even believe its own propaganda. So why should we?

The suspicion must be that Ministers know they are exaggerating the danger to suppress opposition and criticism.

There has for some time been a nasty whiff of puritanism for its own sake about the Government’s policy. 

The Cabinet seem to take a special delight in closing or restricting or souring the atmosphere of places where people like to take simple pleasures.

Not since the dismal years of Oliver Cromwell’s military rule have the British people faced such purse-lipped interference in their normal lives.

There are growing signs that we have had enough. And Mr Hancock’s own performance has much to do with that. 

There are growing signs that we have had enough. And Mr Hancock’s own performance has much to do with that

He is like an undertaker in full mourning at a birthday party, casting a shadow of unwelcome gloom all around him.

Heavy-handed, petulant, officious and thin-skinned, seeming at times to enjoy his huge powers too much, he has begun to annoy his own side by repeatedly accusing even his mildest critics of seeking to let the virus rip, an absurd suggestion which ignores the possibility of a more nuanced and targeted approach. 

His behaviour last week may persuade many that a more open-minded, thoughtful person might do a better job.

Sunak’s prophecy is the most worrying of all 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is forced to commit yet more taxpayers’ money to supporting people driven out of work by his own colleagues’ lockdown policies. 

Worse, this is money which does not really exist and which must be plundered from the future.

Try as he may, the worries about the national economy intensify. 

The long, relaxed summer of Covid, of working from home and furlough, turns into an autumn of apprehension.

And this is why Mr Sunak has quite rightly been asking the Cabinet’s pandemic militants to produce the evidence that justifies their latest wave of regulations and closures.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is forced to commit yet more taxpayers’ money to supporting people driven out of work by his own colleagues’ lockdown policies

It seems to be very weak and sketchy. In the case of the ten o’clock curfew, most intelligent analysts believe it actually makes things worse. 

And at the same time there is little reason to believe that these measures have done any good. 

In 19 out of the 20 places subjected to local lockdowns, there was no benefit. 

Even in the 20th, how can we be sure that the improvements were caused by these economy-damaging rules?

In any case, how reliable are the totals of so-called ‘cases’, in reality positive tests of people who are often not even ill, produced following a huge expansion of testing?

Hospital admission figures need to be treated with care as we now learn that they include patients who have tested positive for Covid after arriving.

We have had quite a few alarming prophecies about the dangers of Covid. 

The time has now come to listen to the equally worrying prophecies, perhaps more solidly based and actually coming true, about the effect on the economy if we continue this dismal cycle of closures and lockdowns.

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