All great tragedies must have a villain. And who serves that role better at the Covid Inquiry than Matt Hancock? After weeks of damning testimony from his critics, the Casanova of the Commons finally began his long-awaited evidence session yesterday morning. Most of his defence has previously been set out in his much-mocked Pandemic Diaries – a work surely in breach of both good taste and the Trade Descriptions Act.
But there was a moment of levity today when Hancock turned his attention to his old enemy, Nicola Sturgeon – one of the few politicians potentially more narcissistic and power-crazed than he is. ‘There were a number of moments when the first minister of Scotland would communicate in a way that was unhelpful and confusing to the public,’ the former Health Secretary claimed. He went on to describe his dealings with Sturgeon a ‘frustration’, adding:
We found it much more difficult when decisions went up to first minister level, particularly with Nicola Sturgeon. Because we would find that sometimes some kind of spin was put on what was essentially substantively the same decision.
While Hancock isn’t always the most reliable of characters, it chimes with the evidence given on Tuesday by Michael Gove. He explained the breakdown in communication with Sturgeon’s government on Covid messaging because of the SNP’s ‘desire to generate at particular points causes for grievance to the UK government’s constitutional position and broader policy position’, adding that the party can ‘exaggerate the impact of a mistake or an error in order to feed a broader political mission’.
Doesn’t sound like the Nicola Sturgeon we know and love, does it…?