News, Culture & Society

HENRY DEEDES watches Health Secretary Matt Hancock on a broadcasting blitzkrieg

Another day, another deluge of Matthew Hancock. Oh goody. Just what a weary nation needed on a dreary Monday.

It was one of those mornings when you couldn’t get away from the Health Secretary. Sky News, LBC, Radio 4. 

Everywhere you flicked, there was that self-satisfied voice, trotting out the usual government lines with customary officiousness.

Springy Matt even went on Good Morning Britain to receive a long-overdue kicking from Piers Morgan. 

He’d probably have spoken to Radio Solent so long as a decent chunk of airtime was on offer. 

Springy Matt even went on Good Morning Britain to receive a long-overdue kicking from Piers Morgan

After that broadcasting blitzkrieg, up he popped again at the Downing Street press briefing. 

The Prime Minister had been due to host but cried off, having been required to self-isolate after a recent guest, Ashfield MP Lee Anderson, tested positive for the virus.

After the hoo-ha over his staffing issues, Boris did not look altogether despondent about having to spend the week indoors. 

Shades of a schoolboy who’d blagged himself an off games chit from matron during a particularly nippy cold snap. Mr Anderson may soon find himself in receipt of a generous get well soon hamper.

Back to Hancock. How delighted he looked to be presenting yesterday’s press conference. 

Arriving at the lectern, he shot the cameras a broad smile. ‘Welcome to the latest daily coronavirus briefing,’ he chirped, red folder in hand.

He could have been Eamonn Andrews presenting This Is Your Life. As ever, he did his best to scare us all. 

How delighted he looked to be presenting yesterday’s press conference. Arriving at the lectern, he shot the cameras a broad smile. ‘Welcome to the latest daily coronavirus briefing,’ he chirped, red folder in hand.

How delighted he looked to be presenting yesterday’s press conference. Arriving at the lectern, he shot the cameras a broad smile. ‘Welcome to the latest daily coronavirus briefing,’ he chirped, red folder in hand.

The virus was a ‘potential threat’ even to the ‘fit and young’, he said. It could ‘strike us all’ and we must do everything we can to ‘strike back’.

It was one of those tedious preambles that dragged on for ever. It’s possible time moves rather slower when the country is on lockdown. Or perhaps Matt just prefers to seek every inch of airtime he can. Boris can never get out of these things fast enough.

At least Hancock had good news to impart. He announced two new ‘megalabs’ opening in January that would double our testing capacity. Megalab. Hardly a scientific word. Sounds like a sprawling, out-of-town shopping centre.

There were also two grounds for cheer on the vaccine front. A company called Janssen would soon begin third-stage trials in the UK. 

We had also secured 5million doses from the US firm Moderna, whose vaccine was proving 94 per cent effective. Hancock was quick to point out that Pfizer’s vaccine, which we obtained 40million doses of last week, was due out sooner.

Hancock decided such news was grounds for theatrics. Pausing hammily, he gave the camera an intense stare before announcing: ‘We can see the candle of hope and we must do all we can to nurture its flame.’ 

I doubt the RSC will be calling any time soon but it gave the TV news guys a decent clip.

Hancock decided such news was grounds for theatrics. Pausing hammily, he gave the camera an intense stare before announcing: ‘We can see the candle of hope and we must do all we can to nurture its flame.’

Hancock decided such news was grounds for theatrics. Pausing hammily, he gave the camera an intense stare before announcing: ‘We can see the candle of hope and we must do all we can to nurture its flame.’

Standing alongside Hancock was Professor Jonathan Van-Tam. Hancock kept referring to him chummily as ‘JVT’. Also there was Dr Susan Hopkins, a less cheerful sort from Public Health England.

JVT was encouraged by the news about Moderna’s vaccine. He compared it to the second penalty going into the net during a shoot-out. Hancock was determined to spike his guns. 

‘We’re not there yet!’ he smiled at the prof, as though urging him to dial down the enthusiasm. Can’t go giving the public false hope. They’ll all blame Hancock when it goes wrong.

Someone from the public asked what would happen after lockdown ended on December 2. Hancock wasn’t altogether committed to the idea that it would. ‘We’ll see,’ was the gist of his answer. He did not appear wholly perplexed by the idea.

Hopkins implied that the tier system would need strengthening if lockdown were lifted. She implied that Tier 1 restrictions had been all but pointless.

In other words, don’t count on any indoor socialising being permitted before the end of the year. Oh well. On the bright side, looks like we’ll be spared all those drunken office parties.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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