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  • Charles E.Cheadle

The Scary Parallel between '1984' and the Matt Hancock Affair

Mr Hancock, Big Brother is watching you!

The recent events surrounding Matt Hancock, the now former Secretary of State for Health, has generated much frenzy in the media, but for the wrong reason. Media focus has revolved around Mr Hancock breaking COVID guidelines, devised by him and his ensemble at the Department of Health, when he raunchily kissed his aide Gina Coladangelo, in what he believed was a discrete fashion. Nevertheless, a video has been leaked of his promiscuous activities, and he has since resigned.

It seems politics, and society, has evolved to normalise affairs and scandals, tacitly accepting the testosterone filled nature of contemporary politics provoking such immoral behaviour; the thirst for power consuming all inhibitions. 50 years ago, politicians were held to a greater moral and ethical standard, participating in an extra-marital affair irreparably damaging their reputations. The notorious Profumo affair in the 1960’s, although political undertones, ultimately cost the Minister his job. Complying with PM Boris Johnson's moral code, there would have been a high likelihood that if it wasn’t for Mr Hancock breaking his own rules, he would not have been forced to resign.

Perhaps even more shocking, is the fact a covert camera had been placed inside a cabinet ministers office, having access to Mr Hancock’s every movement, and presumably every conversation. Who has access to this camera and sensitive information is currently unknown, with an investigation being launched to find out. There is a possibility that the footage breached the Official Secrets Act, and whilst the integrity of whistle-blowers needs to be protected to safeguard corruption, it is a necessity - for the security of the nation - any recording apparatus is not secretly hidden in any minister’s office.

As these events unfolded, parallels could be drawn between Mr Hancock’s predicament and George Orwell’s dystopian novel ‘1984’; the major difference, Mr Hancock was unaware of the telescreen watching him - supposedly hidden in a fire alarm. Now our leaders recognise they could be being watched; a telescreen watching, recording and analysing their every move, inhibiting their autonomy as their ‘private dealings’ become synonymous with their ‘public dealings’, and their behaviour following accordingly, adapting their actions to the public locale, potentially resulting in a serious afront to political stability.

How can sensitive meetings surrounding diplomatic problems occur – such as that resolving the tension between HMS Defender and Russia – if politicians do not feel they can speak freely on the matter? The point can be extrapolated to all world issues. Prime minister Boris Johnson is currently negotiating numerous trade agreements with non-EU countries, following Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union’s single market. Imagine the advantage a nation would have in talks if they knew the strategies of the United Kingdom before entering the negotiation table. Without knowing who has access to such information, all of the above could be at stake. Measures need to be implemented to ensure the confidentiality politicians require inside their own offices. This is a matter of national security.


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