Matt Hancock to join ‘I’m a Celebrity…’ cast of 2022: What not to do as a serving Member of Parliament
It was recently confirmed that Matt Hancock, former UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, would be joining this year’s I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here cast. This news epitomises how politics, and especially politicians, in the UK, have turned more and more into a running joke.
Matt Hancock and I´m a Celebrity
From lettuce outliving Liz Truss’ short term as Prime Minister to Boris Johnson constantly being referred to as ‘BoJo’ alongside his unprofessional hair and silly pronunciation of ‘Bloo passport’, Hancock’s hiring is just one of many recent examples of people in charge of running a country being ridiculed for their actions and decisions.
I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here is a UK survival reality competition, that first aired in 2002. It centres around celebrities living in a remote jungle whilst competing in different challenges to see who can survive the longest to win the show. The 2022 season marks a return to the Australian jungle after the previous two seasons were filmed in Wales due to Covid-19 restrictions on travel.
This update came alongside the news that Matt Hancock had the ‘whip suspended’. He was expelled from his party and is now sitting as an independent Member of Parliament until he is reinstated, due to his being deemed unable to properly serve his constituents from the Australian jungle.
I wish I could say Hancock is the first serving MP to go on I’m a Celebrity…, but Nadine Dorries appeared in the 2012 season and received similar backlash from the Conservative Party and the public. Maybe both Dorries and Hancock obtained the same disturbing advice to appear on the show so as to ‘reach large audiences’.
In order to highlight Matt Hancock’s privileged background I have included a little bit about his upbringing, as I thought it was important to emphasise how out of touch he is to consider taking part in I’m a Celebrity…, or to still serve as an MP in the first place.
To begin with, after attending a private school in Chester, Hancock went to Oxford University, where he read Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, and then to Cambridge University for an MPhil in Economics. Following this, he worked for his family’s software business and the Bank of England, before becoming the Chief of Staff to the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer.
He was first elected Conservative MP for West Suffolk in May 2010 and has served in various positions such as the Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise and the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport. In July 2018 he was appointed as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, a position in which he served until June 2021, before he was forced to resign due to him being disgraced for not following his own lockdown rules, by having an affair with his aide.
It does not take much to notice that Hancock’s political legacy is an embarrassing one, considering as Health Secretary, he oversaw the UK’s Covid-19 death tolls—one of the highest in the world. On top of that, he has faced backlash for ‘breaching his legal obligation’ to publish details of ‘billions of pounds’ worth’ of Covid-19 related contracts and later claiming there was ‘never’ a PPE shortage at the beginning of the pandemic, insulting all healthcare workers.
This breach continued with him not declaring that a firm which won an NHS contract was owned by his sister and one in which he held shares. This all came to a head when in June of 2021 images came out of him ‘kissing’ Gina Coladangelo, whom he was paying a £15,000 salary for ‘15 to 20 days’ of work a year, as well as breaking his own social distancing rules. He finally resigned after a meagre apology and despite Boris Johnson, the PM at the time, having considered the matter ‘resolved’.
These are only some of the examples of Hancock’s inability to act as the Secretary of Health and Social Care would be expected to, especially during a period of a pandemic, wherein he showed a blatant disregard for his constituents and the rest of the UK’s wellbeing. People who have behaved how he has done should be unable to continue serving as representatives of their constituency, let alone earn money and flaunt themselves on one of the most popular television shows in the UK. He is not what should be considered a celebrity, but rather a blueprint for future MPs to know how not to act.
The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK group has been outspoken in their criticism of Hancock’s decision to go on the show. They highlight that he is not a ‘celebrity’ and that his attempt to ‘cash in on his terrible legacy’ shows who he really is. This act of arrogance is the opposite of what they think he should be doing to even begin to be forgiven for the ‘appalling consequences of his time in Government’.
The group asserts that rather than being ‘paraded around as a joke’ on national television and ‘eating bugs’ in the jungle, he should be showing remorse and taking accountability for his actions that affected thousands of people in the UK to this day, and will for many years to come.
The group also started a petition asking for ITV to remove him as a contestant on the show, with it having been signed by over 43,000 people and counting.
Hancock’s thought process that this was a good move for his personal image serves to show his lack of self-awareness and humility. Sources close to him have said that he believes he will be able to effectively support his constituents simply with access to a ‘laptop and phone’ whilst promoting his dyslexia campaign.
This belief further supports the picture of a self-centred man in his own little bubble, incapable of having any compassion for his citizens who have suffered enough under his governance. It shows a true ignorance towards his constituents’ needs and highlights his only goal is to attempt to rehabilitate his own image, for his own gain.
Representing his constituents on a reality show was not in the job description or manifesto when 33,842 people voted for him to be their MP in the most recent elections in 2019. I am not sure who advised Hancock to go on the show, but it certainly was not someone looking to help rebuild his image.
Serving politicians should not be on reality TV. If they really wanted to increase the reach of their audience and highlight the campaigns they are working on, they should definitely be in the constituency that they were chosen to represent, and at the very least in the country. Having limited access to a laptop in the Australian jungle is not a replacement for governance.