At breakfast time, politicians have a choice of how to be lightly grilled: they can be put through the fire of the Radio 4 Today Programme, or enjoy a more moderate heat on one of the early morning TV offerings. It was the latter choice made by alleged Health Secretary Matt Hancock, when he appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
Looks like he is
After all, this was an easy one, right? It was Wednesday, there would be Mail Online’s editor at large Piers Morgan, a Tory supporter in all but name, and it would not matter what his co-host said. Sadly, it all went wrong from the start: there was no Piers Morgan, and co-host Susanna Reid had a very straightforward line of questioning.
She began on that line of questioning, and stuck to it. “20,000 more Police? Under a Tory Government, 20,000 Police Officers were lost”. What say Hancock? “Well, we’re putting 20,000 more Police on our streets, and I think that’s incredibly welcome to people”.
Back came Ms Reid. “That doesn’t even cover the cuts, Mr Hancock”. Come on Matt! “Well, this is about what we’re going to do in the future, and in the future, we’re going to have more Police on our streets, and tackle crime”. Police tackling crime? Nowt gets past Hancock. His problem was that nowt gets past Ms Reid, either.
Susanna Reid - deceptive smile
“No, sorry. We won’t even have as many Police officers as you cut”. This is correct (21,000 were cut, and 20,000 are promised). Hancock, now looking moderately uncomfortable, resorted to bluffing it out, or, as most people would call it, lying. “Yes we will, we’re having 20,000 new Police officers and the first 7,000 are already being recruited”.
Interruption from Ms Reid. “You cut 21,000 Police officers”. Go on Matt, have another go. “We’re going to have more Police on our streets, as I say, it’s about focusing on people’s priorities”. No, that’s the wrong answer. “Only because you cut the number of Police officers”. Try again, Minister. “Well, Boris Johnson has only been Prime Minister for just under six months”. Thank goodness for small mercies. But do go on.
“In that time, he’s already successfully got an agreement with the EU which we didn’t think he was going to be able to [it was effectively dictated to him by the EU]. He’s committed to the biggest hospital building programme in a generation [not true, it’s mainly seed funding only]. That wasn’t happening until he became Prime Minister [and it still isn’t]. He’s committed to 20,000 more Police, and to increasing standards in schools and levelling up the spending on schools”. None of which answers the question.
He doesn't look happy. Good
Which meant Ms Reid had to pull him up once more. “Yes, and unfortunately … but under austerity, Mr Hancock, you know that really all you’re doing is trying to fix the things that you caused”. Ouch! What will Hancock’s excuse be? That she was wearing red, and so must be some kind of Rotten Leftie™? Nope, that won’t work either.
The questioning isn’t going to get any easier for Hancock and his fellow Tories. Worse, the alleged Prime Minister he has been eulogising was a compliant part of those Police cuts, especially during his tenure as Mayor of London. The Tories have been rumbled.
Plus the BBC and Sky News will have seen that performance. Or the lack if it.
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