Matt Hancock has stepped down from his role as health secretary, after leaked videos and pictures emerged showing the Tory MP breaking social distancing rules whilst cavorting with an advisor in his Whitehall office earlier this year.
Many welcomed the news of Hancock’s resignation over the weekend, given his criminal record in overseeing the NHS during the pandemic. But any celebrations were short-lived, with the announcement of Sajid Javid as his replacement.
Hancock and Javid are cut from the same corrupt, callous Conservative cloth. Neither can be trusted with our lives. Our NHS is not safe in the hands of any Tory ministers.
It is necessary, therefore, not just to kick out Hancock, but to give all the Tories the boot. We need socialist policies to fight the virus and save the NHS.
The public is rightly outraged by the Hancock scandal. Just as with the Cummings affair from last year, when the PM’s former advisor flouted government guidelines at the height of the first wave, the hypocrisy stinks.
In May 2020, for example, Hancock had publicly admonished Professor Neil Ferguson, a member of SAGE at the time, after it was found that the scientist had broken lockdown rules in order to see his lover. Ferguson was subsequently forced to resign from his role on the government’s scientific advisory council.
Fast forward 13 months, and Hancock was determined to cling to his job after evidence of his own illicit dalliances was revealed in the Murdoch press last Friday.
In the end, it is likely that the Tory MP did not jump entirely of his own accord. Rather, he was pushed out by Downing Street, after the public backlash began and his position became untenable.
Similarly, Dominic Cummings remained in his post for months following his infamous cross-country trip to Durham, with Boris Johnson defending his right-hand man throughout. In the end, Cummings left Number 10 not as a result of his lockdown misdemeanors, but due to a palace coup.
It is clear that, in the eyes of the Tories, there is one rule for them, and another for the rest of us.
In any case, if there were any real sense of justice, then Matt Hancock would have gone a long time ago.
According to text messages leaked by Cummings, even Boris Johnson considered his healthcare minister to be “totally fucking hopeless”.
As health secretary since the start of the pandemic, Hancock was guilty of a litany of crimes. Handing out juicy government contracts to his chums, whilst failing to procure PPE for frontline NHS staff. Lying through his teeth about the number of COVID tests being performed. And sending infected hospital patients back into care homes, allowing the virus to spread like wildfire amongst the elderly.
Taken together, these amount to an offence far worse than contravening COVID restrictions. These disastrous decisions and reckless actions – along with all of those undertaken by this criminal Tory government – amount to social murder, responsible for the avoidable deaths of tens of thousands.
Corruption and cronyism
Hancock’s affair has also highlighted another running theme throughout the pandemic: that of corruption and nepotism.
Many have questioned how Hancock’s paramour – Gina Coladangelo, wife of millionaire fashion boss Oliver Tress – came to be a non-executive director at the health department, with an associated £15,000 per year taxpayer-funded salary (for a part-time job), given her prior CV experience in retail and communications.
The former health secretary is certainly no stranger to cronyism. Last year, for example, it was revealed that the West Suffolk MP had benefited from £350,000 in donations from wealthy figures in horse racing.
These connections also help to explain how Tory Baroness Dido Harding – a fellow Jockey Club member – came to head the disastrous test-and-trace system; and why she is now in the running to be NHS chief.
Similarly, Grand National sponsor Randox Laboratories was amongst the many businesses to be awarded generous COVID contracts by Hancock and the Tories, as part of this rotten ‘chumocracy’.
Other scandalous examples include the £14 million PPE contract handed to CH&L Ltd – a business owned by Frances Stanley, a family friend of the ex-health secretary; and another £30 million contract given to a firm owned by the former landlord of Hancock’s local pub.
More of the same
Nobody should expect anything different with Hancock’s replacement, Sajid Javid. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose: the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Javid returns to Boris Johnson’s cabinet after acrimoniously resigning from his previous role as chancellor early last year. The new health secretary had clashed with Dominic Cummings, and was seen as being too independent; not pliant enough for the PM’s clique in Number 10.
With Cummings now at loggerheads with his former boss, the stage was set for Javid to make his political return. But there should be no illusions that this will result in any improvement for the NHS, or for the working class more generally.
Like Hancock, Javid has utilised his political connections for personal gain, landing a top job with banking giant JP Morgan after his brief stint as chancellor.
Prior to that, the Bromsgrove MP served as home secretary under Theresa May. From this position, like his racist successor Priti Patel, he whipped up xenophobia and manufactured a ‘migrant crisis’, in order to appease the reactionary rabble amongst the Tory membership.
And nothing about Javid’s history suggests that he will be any different in terms of aiding the privatisation and dismantlement of Britain’s national healthcare system. Indeed, as a renowned free-market advocate and former banker, the new Tory health minister will no doubt oversee an even greater push to outsource and privatise healthcare services.
Profits vs lives
Importantly, the libertarian Javid is also known to be a vocal anti-lockdown critic. Already, reflecting the pressures of big business, he has come out in favour of removing all remaining restrictions on 19 July, despite rising case numbers and hospitalisations associated with the Delta variant, adamantly referring to this date as “the end of the line”.
By contrast, Hancock – to protect his own reputation – had been a more cautious voice within the Tory cabinet (for what little that was worth).
With Hancock gone, the path is therefore now cleared for even more Tory recklessness and hubris; for this government of crooks and charlatans to once again gamble with our lives.
Dominic Cummings’ recent revelations have laid bare the incompetence, arrogance, and callousness that pervades this Tory government. The COVID death toll of over 150,000 is a graphic illustration of this fact.
The fact is that all of the Tories have blood on their hands. Johnson, Hancock, Patel, Raab, and co: They are all guilty. They have all prioritised the bosses’ profits over our lives. They must all go.
Struggle for socialism
In the final analysis, the degeneracy, corruption, and madness of these reactionary politicians is a reflection of the degeneracy, corruption, and madness of the capitalist system that they represent and defend.
Alexis de Tocqueville, the liberal French diplomat, once remarked that every nation gets the government it deserves. Today, we can say that the ruling class gets the leaders it deserves.
The working class, however, deserves a fundamental change; a complete break with this rotten status quo. Workers and youth deserve class fighters. We deserve a leadership of the labour movement that is committed to the struggle for socialism.
We therefore need to fight to kick out not just Hancock, but all the criminal Tories; to bring down this whole bankrupt government, and the senile system they uphold.