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Matt Hancock’s casual cruelty Society's growing acceptance of adultery ignores the pain of its victims

Matt Hancock, hitherto unsuspected of untrammelled sensuality, with Gina Coladangelo (L) Credit: Ian Forsyth/Getty

Matt Hancock, hitherto unsuspected of untrammelled sensuality, with Gina Coladangelo (L) Credit: Ian Forsyth/Getty


June 28, 2021   5 mins

Whoever thought Matt Hancock would be brought down by an affair? It has been incredibly retro to see a high-profile politician forced to fall on his sword on account of his, well, sword. But finally, nearly three decades after John Major mooted it, we’re back to basics.

Nothing about Matt Hancock has previously suggested a man of untrammelled sensuality. And yet there he is, getting deeply into a clinch with his aide Gina Coladangelo during office hours. Is this really the same Matt Hancock we once saw clumsily attempting parkour, jumping over small obstacles with an expression of fierce determination? The Matt Hancock who appeared, inexplicably, to conduct his early-pandemic video interviews from a small, red cupboard? Matt Hancock, the objectively ridiculous person, destroyed by passion?

Even his scandals had a vibe of hapless enthusiasm rather than malice. Buying ÂŁ30m of PPE from a man with no prior experience making medical equipment who used to run his local? Breaking the ministerial code by giving an NHS contract to his family (and failing to declare his own interest in the firm)? Official business done from his private email? You can imagine Hancock sealing the deals with the same nod of unguarded satisfaction that he gives after vaulting a very low wall: another problem surmounted by Matt Hancock!

When Dominic Cummings published a text from Boris Johnson calling Hancock “totally fucking hopeless”, no one really cared because it’s what most people thought anyway.

Bafflingly, he survived it all. And it seems possible that he might even have survived this latest humiliation if it hadn’t seemed so disconcertingly off-brand: Hancock, after all, was the sex stasi of the pandemic. When Professor Neil Fergusson was busted in an assignation with a woman during lockdown, Hancock primly commented that the social distancing rules “are there for everyone”, and called for Ferguson to be investigated by police. And while families were missing the funerals of their loved ones, Hancock was having his knee-trembler against an office door.

Boris would have let him off. How could he do otherwise? The Prime Minister’s uncounted children and multiple acts of callousness to wives and lovers leave no mark with the public because this is what we expect: no matter what he promised his women, he never promised us that he would be anything other than a cad. But the public didn’t feel the same about the Health Secretary; Hancock’s hypocrisy couldn’t be borne.

The affair itself is another matter. There is a current culture of increasing permissiveness which led even the Bishop of Manchester, to say that he was “more worried about the fact that he failed to keep the social distancing than I am about the fact that here was a middle aged bloke having a bit of a fling.” Clearly, it’s something a lot of people do. And despite reigning stereotypes of hapless horndog husbands, the data increasingly suggests that adultery is committed just as regularly by women as it is for men. (Hancock’s affair partner is married too.)

Women might actually be the ones with the greatest incentive to cheat: in her 2018 book Untrue, the writer Wednesday Martin pointed out that it’s women who experience the greatest dissatisfaction in long-term relationships, and women whose libidos are most likely to tank within monogamy. (Hence the rumoured condition of “Lesbian Bed Death” in long-term relationships between women.)

This makes an obvious kind of sense if you think about it for any amount of time at all. The legal and social structures that govern our relationships are, after all, patriarchal: products of male power, and so unlikely to reflect women’s own interests. In Martin’s argument, when straight relationships have an imbalance between a male partner who wants more sex and a female partner who wants to be left alone, it’s not because the woman is innately less frisky. She’s just bored off her tits.

This current upswing of tolerance for adultery is probably partly a result of feminism successfully unpicking some of the double standards against female sexuality, and partly a result of the internet eroding the distinction between “thinking” and “doing”. Thanks to Facebook messenger, you don’t even need to bother to book a hotel room to put on the scarlet letter in your own lunch hour.

More importantly, there’s not that much to be afraid of these days. (Or at least, there wasn’t until early 2020.) Antiretrovirals mean AIDs is no longer a hateful reaper scything after desire, and antibiotics are holding out — just about, for now — against the rest of the STDs. Modern contraception is a reliable guard against pregnancy.

Advice columnist Dan Savage advances a “monogamish” approach, where each partner makes room for each other’s foibles rather than enforcing a doctrinaire version of absolute fidelity; the psychotherapist Esther Perel, in her book The State of Affairs, eloquently argues that unfaithfulness isn’t always a comment on the relationship itself. People in “good” relationships cheat, and sometimes “good” people become cheaters. “The victim of the affair is not always the victim of the marriage,” she has written.

Still, affairs do have victims, as Savage and Perel would agree. In Nora Ephron’s novel Heartburn, published in 1983, narrator Rachel has discovered that her husband is having an affair. “When something like this happens,” she explains, “you suddenly have no sense of reality at all. You have lost a piece of your past. The infidelity itself is small potatoes compared to the low-level brain damage that results when a whole chunk of your life turns out to be different from what you thought it was.”

The pain of being cheated on is the pain of realising your most intimate life has been a fiction authored on someone else’s terms. A friend of mine, currently writing a memoir about being married to a serially unfaithful man, sees the propensity to cheat as a matter of character: “Surely that’s the most important context in which you’re truthful — to the person that you lie nose-to-nose with in bed. If you can’t be truthful to them, then you’re absolutely not going to be truthful in any other context.”

But besides the deceit, what runs through the account of Hancock’s actions is the casual carelessness about his wife’s feelings. It’s reported that he woke their eight-year-old child to say he was leaving the family home — and then, presumably, left his wife Martha to deal with the children’s distress as well as her own shock. In his letter of resignation, he says sorry to his “family and loved ones”, but never directly to Martha, who surely after 15 years of marriage deserved a personal apology for the public devastation of her life.

There are even “friends” of Hancock briefing that the relationship with Coladengelo is a “love match”. It’s one kind of lapse to cheat, and perhaps it’s another to get caught, but to lack even the belated discretion to grant some dignity to the person you hurt — the person who in this case had your children, supported your career, and who you once promised to forsake all others for — seems a gratuitous kind of cruelty. Hancock may well be besotted with Coladengelo, but he seems to have fallen at least as hard for the myth of his own romantic exceptionalism.

There is nothing special about adulterers. All hearts are messy implements, all desire is untidy, all people are capable of hurting those who love them and being hurt in turn. One of the unedifying things about the orgy of moralism towards MPs in the Nineties was that the journalists indulging in it belonged to an industry that was hardly known for its sexual rectitude. But coronavirus made private lives into a matter of policy, and Hancock was the most enthusiastic advocate of all for this. His failure to apply that to himself is, in the end, the thing that makes him most ridiculous of all.


Sarah Ditum is a columnist, critic and feature writer.

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Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago

The legal and social structures that govern our relationships are, after all, patriarchal.”
I would, after all, contest this assertion. Marraige as a legal entity is almost entirely design to protect women’s financial interests. Socially, women are not short of emotional supports, while men have very few such assets at their disposal.
Nor is this a recent phenomenon. In 1950s conservative Ireland, my maternal grandfather used to return from work on Fridays and hand over his salary to my grandmother, who would grant him an ‘allowance’ for going to the pub. This was a common model in ‘patriarchial’ Ireland, something feminists refuse to acknowledge by simply ignoring history.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Indeed. I did wonder why ‘patriarchy’ was invoked. I think if the columnist wished to ground her statements around the concept of ‘patriarchy’, she would need to at least provide demonstrable evidence that it is 1stly, unambiguously the overriding structural feature characterising an alleged unjust power dynamic between men and women and, 2ndly, it is also the defining feature of the open, free, advanced and democratic society that we live in today.
At least the columnist does include women as adulterers and discusses that side of the equation – something that is missing I think from the various hand-wringing moralising reports aimed only at Hancock’s infidelity.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Women control or influence something like 85% of consumer spending, so looking simply at what they earn is missing the wider picture.
Marriage is now so uniquely unappealing to men that it can only be the recklessly optimistic who do it.
Hancock’s ideal outcome here is probably that while he’ll lose 80% of what he owns in his divorce, so will Gina’s husband in hers. If he marries Gina, he’ll actually end up ahead. The only financial loser, in fact, will probably be her husband.
It’s tough on the kids but obviously nobody thinks about those.

clare.gibb
clare.gibb
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Exactly what I was going to say – as embarrassing parents go, this pair really are up there. Those poor, poor children. Still, having been to school with the woman in question, nothing surprises me.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Don’t worry. The next generation of boys growing up with fathers missing, no male role models or teachers and constantly fed negativity about male roles will not inflict patriarchy on the women in their life.

In most “patriarchal’ societies, women somehow have more spending power….ever noticed the ground floors of malls and supermarkets are always reserved for women’s clothing.

Meanwhile, I met a South African retailer who laughingly mentioned that over there, men have MORE spending power. Guess why?

Last edited 2 years ago by Samir Iker
Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Because South Africa is a matriarchal society? I’m curious, I’d really like to know the answer to your question.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Krehbiel

Pretty much, with men refusing to take enough patriarchal responsibility.
If as a man you don’t have to pay for a mortgage, take care of your family and kids, men would of course be far better off financially.
And at the same time have far less drive or motivation to do something with their lives.
There is a reason all civilised societies are patriarchies.

Hugh Marcus
Hugh Marcus
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Actually, we don’t need to wait to the next generation to see the effects of boys who grow into men without good male role models. Those involved in social policy have been talking for several years about a crisis of fatherlessness. Because what happens is that the frightened young boy with no solid male role medal to look up to, becomes an inwardly frightened man, scared of commitment, so many of them have multiple relationships & bale out as soon as children arrive or there’s any talk of permanency. The end result? The next generation will be worse again. We’re can’t make light of this, we’re only storing up trouble for ourselves as a society.

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago

“…when straight relationships have an imbalance between a male partner who wants more sex and a female partner who wants to be left alone, it’s not because the woman is innately less frisky. She’s just bored off her tits.”
And vice versa, of course. Men, just like women, can sometimes find themselves no longer sexually attracted to their longterm partners, and, just like women, seek sexual satisfaction elsewhere.
Women can be just as “boring” in bed as men, in case you hadn’t noticed.
Yet, bizarrely, you appear to take a dimmer view of “cheating” men.
“There is a current culture of increasing permissiveness”…
How chillingly puritanical and judgemental…
“A friend of mine, currently writing a memoir about being married to a serially unfaithful man, sees the propensity to cheat as a matter of character”.
As you point out “infidelity” is now as common among women as it is among men, yet it is primarily only “cheated” women who feel the need to broadcast their suffering to the world and solicit sympathy as victims, whereas men, apparently, have only themselves to blame for the breakdown of the relationship.
Reading Ms Ditum, I often get the impression that she feels cursed by her heterosexuality and attraction to the males species.
For which men are also at fault presumably.

Last edited 2 years ago by Eddie Johnson
Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

I was assuming you would have focused also on the damage that cheating has on children. It is not easy to measure the emotional impact of relationship splits on the children. Anyone who has heard them talking from the heart picks it up: “I wish my Dad and Mum were still together!” has stuck with me when the girl said it while in a painting group in my class.

Wil Harper
Wil Harper
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Alternatively if the parents are adults and discuss thing you can have children who are much happier. I work with young people and the damage down by couples staying together ‘for the sake of the kids’ is noticeable.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago
Reply to  Wil Harper

That damage is nonetheless much less than the damage caused to the children (even those who have reached adulthood) by their parents splitting-up.

Claire Dunnage
Claire Dunnage
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Of course, that isn’t always the case. By the time we got to our teenage years, my sister and I were desperate for our parents to seperate, it was hell. And what about children who have to witness domestic violence, or are caught up in it? You can’t come out with an absolute statement like that.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
2 years ago

This tells us that the church no longer believes in any moral standards, confirms that the politicians never have had any, and society no longer cares. The consequences are all around us to see.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Why does it say anything about what the church believes? I don’t think he professes to be a Christian. It says more about the influence of the church but why would people who do not follow a particular faith follow its teaching? My non-Jewish friends do not follow the dietary rules and my non-Christian friends do not pray to Jesus.
I agree with the rest of your comment.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

I think Mr Thorpe was referring to the Bishop of Manchester’s shrugging of his shoulders on the matter of adultery

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew D
Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Not replying to myself, just pointing out that this was the offensive, libellous comment that took the censor 22 hours to approve. What’s going on?

Alan Tonkyn
Alan Tonkyn
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

I think the Bishop of Manchester professes to be a Christian, and I suspect his comment- mentioned in the article – was what Alan Thorpe was rightly referring to.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Tonkyn

Thank you – I replied saying the same thing, but was unaccountably censored!

Alan Tonkyn
Alan Tonkyn
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Thanks, Andrew. I think the Bishop’s comment – if correctly reported- is appalling!

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Tonkyn

I agree. I am surprised having listened to him quite often on Radio 4. His comment is totally unbiblical!

Alan Tonkyn
Alan Tonkyn
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Thanks, Andrew. I tried to reply to you, making a further observation on the Bishop, but that seems to have been censored too!

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Tonkyn

The comments – if correctly reported – are indeed appalling. Apparently failing to observe a petty and tyrannical government restriction is a greater sin than breaking the Sixth Commandment (or seventh, according to your tradition).
Also appalling is the apparent censorship – is the bishop a major UnHerd shareholder?

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew D
Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

I don’t think he professes to be a Christian.” I’d have thought it would be a basic requirement in the job description for the Bishop of Manchester would be a Christian!

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Roger Inkpen

the word ‘he’ referred to Matt Hancock! A bishop would not be appointed if he did not show evidence in his life of his faith! He would not even have been ordained!

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Roger Inkpen

reply awaiting approval!

Alastair Herd
Alastair Herd
2 years ago

I find it fascinating how somehow we as a society have decided something that has such massive ramifications (on wounded partners, children, friends), is apparently just a personal issue.

Sarah is totally correct to point out that if a person is willing to betray and lie to the person closest to them, they are not someone you want in charge of you.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Alastair Herd

Like Boris?

Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Boris is somehow unique in his ability to get away with anything. We should all have got used to that by now, even if we do not fully understand it.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Nick Faulks

You are right. I also think that trait disqualifies him from his office!

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

In theory I agree but in practice I can’t think of any notably impressive male PM who wasn’t at it like toads round a pond.
PMs seem to use their celebrity to get their leg over but pretty well all celebrities do. Female celebrities quite often get knocked up by one of their dancing boys.

Jim Richards
Jim Richards
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Churchill? He seems to have been a man with quite a low sex drive. I don’t think anyone ever thought Attlee was a serial adulterer either

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago
Reply to  Jim Richards

Heath?

Tom Jennings
Tom Jennings
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Yes, like Boris.

Catherine Chetwynd
Catherine Chetwynd
2 years ago
Reply to  Alastair Herd

I agree that if you can’t be honest with the person you are living (and lying) with, then you are unlikely to be honest about anything, but much ‘infidelity’ is verbal – what people say behind each other’s back is as damaging and undermining as any shag, casual or otherwise

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago
Reply to  Alastair Herd

I did wonder about that claim. I think it is a personal and private issue. I am not privy to the dynamics of the Hancock’s marriage and the motivations that guided Hancock’s behaviour so am in no way placed to pass moral judgement. However, I take your point regarding the ramifications on children for example.
Whether a person is unilaterally ‘in charge of us’ is doubtful. That general description leaves out the full range of the decision-making process within government regarding the issue of the pandemic and is not a unilateral decision making process IMO. There is a very good although brief description of that process in a The Times article’s portrayal of Chris Whitty.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago

Like the Papers, Sarah D chooses to forget that there is a betrayed husband, not only a betrayed wife, in this affair.

But anything’s good enough for men, isn’t it?

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
2 years ago

The area of family law is indeed patriarchal. That means all the experts, lawyers and judges treat the females as if they are automatically deserving of pity and belief. The patriarch’s enemy is lower class men and they want to drive them into the dirt for $. Many females become the vehicle for the patriarchs to achieve this end. Hey. And the occasional bloke even deserves it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Karl Juhnke
T Doyle
T Doyle
2 years ago
Reply to  Karl Juhnke

I fought in the family law courts for 10 years for access to my children. I am not the adulterer. I was thwarted at every turn and my ex was seen as the “victim”. In one hearing I looked around the court. Ten or so people in the room – all female except me. A black man would have got a fairer hearing at a KKK meeting (joke!). The family law system is packed with Marxists, social engineers and militant feminists who are determined to destroy the nuclear family. These are the people who would prefer the state to raise children. This point is a divergence from the Hancock issue. He’s just obnoxious.

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
2 years ago
Reply to  T Doyle

You are one of tens of thousands from Western Nations. That is being very conservative.

Jim Richards
Jim Richards
2 years ago
Reply to  Karl Juhnke

Partially true. The family courts are class based – lots of middle class lawyers, judges, social workers and ‘experts’ who get their kicks (and rather large salaries) from telling people lower down the social scale how to live their lives. In my experience the court will always favour the person with the most money and/or the most bourgeois background. It is one of the greatest scandals of our age

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
2 years ago
Reply to  Jim Richards

They worship most women no matter their class. Well they pretend to anyway as a way to access the man’s hard won financial assets. If that means slaughtering a few dozen kids per week all the better.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

Having had two affairs (let me hasten to add that I am not proud but resignedly regretful), I know exactly how messy these things are and indeed how common. My observation is that on the man leaving, it is instructive as to how he does this and how he feels. If a man can just up and walk away with ease, he is not worth having.

Andrew Roman
Andrew Roman
2 years ago

Why does the article writer assume that sexual exclusivity is the natural state while non-exclusivity is to be vilified with emotionally loaded language like “cheating”? Decades ago the Kinsey research showed that some half of men and a smaller percentage of women had been willing to admit to having had extra marital sex. The real percentage is a lot higher today, I would guess.

Perhaps sexual monogamy for life is not the natural state for the majority of the population and should not be taken for granted.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Roman

Kinsey was a charlatan and a fraud, his “findings” worthless.

Jeffrey Chongsathien
Jeffrey Chongsathien
2 years ago

It’s not a surprise he survived everything when the people and the institutions surrounding him are corrupt and rotten to the core, thus don’t hold each other accountable for their crimes – that includes the British public.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago

Marriage is, of course, matriarchal.

It collapses as an institution when even the women become unfaithful to their spouses.

Marriage requires some self-sacrifice if it is to survive.

Thus in our society, it is doomed – along with our society.

T Doyle
T Doyle
2 years ago

The theory of open marriages or relationships is always raising its head when these events happen. However, like Marxism it may all sound great and rational in theory but in practice is flawed because it takes no account of human nature. Love, commitment, trust and yes jealousy are very human traits that can never ever be over ridden whilst we as a human race have free will. I do believe more attention should be given to the victims of adultery. Even though I voted for Boris I cannot abide his personal morals which I do believe seep into his political life. He’s an egotistical and emotional coward in his private life and is so in politics. Hancock is obviously from the same cloth. From my observations of life, adultery is as much about the egos of the participants as it is about lust.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

What I find interesting about this is that there are, first of all, two strands to the criticism of Hancock. One is that he breached COVID restrictions, so as Health Secretary, he should go. The other is that he committed adultery, so he should go.
His married lover seems largely to have escaped censure at all. There is, for example, a Tim Stanley piece in the Bellylaugh today in which he says

adultery has very public consequences for the partners, for the kids and for the weasel himself

Well, hang on. She wasn’t Health Secretary, so that cannot be grounds for criticism of her. She was just as married as Hancock, however. So why is there no equal criticism of her infidelity? Why no mention of the weasel herself?

Peta Seel
Peta Seel
2 years ago

If evidence was needed that Matt Hancock is fundamentally callous one need only look at the restrictions he put on funerals and visiting the dying. The death of a dearly loved partner, child, member of one’s family or even a friend is the most traumatic thing that ever happens to any of us. Hancock cruelly and callously removed both comfort for the dying and the grieving mechanism for those left behind.
The way he has treated his wife and children should not come as any surprise.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago

Many people have commented on our society’s fanatical immaturity, that it’s full of people who refuse to grow up, even when they’ve grown old.

In this case, we have two supposedly mature and responsible (certainly middle-aged) people with family responsibilities, determined to behave as if they were still the young sprigs they were, when they first met at Oxford.

I’d guess all this permanent adolescence is due to loss of faith in any hereafter – if you believe that Death is the End, everyone has to be Peter Pan or Wendy, the boys and girls who can never grow old.

William Cameron
William Cameron
2 years ago

adultery is simple. It is deceiving a partner. Would you do that to a business partner ?

p kirkman
p kirkman
2 years ago

I don’t want to be clever or technical and in depth about this but am personally horrified at any apology for Hancock by any body. If you have 3 children, bring them up responsibly and dont b****r off when they need you. Just when they thought you were the best thing since sliced bread, as kids do, you destroy them. Hope he is miserable.

Suzanne P
Suzanne P
2 years ago

I am sympathetic to both of the “wronged” spouses in this mess, but mostly I think of the children. While I do think very young kids -who have little to no memory of their parents being together – can survive divorce somewhat unscathed if both parents make the child/children a priority, having your family suddenly (and in this case publicly) ripped apart when you are old enough to understand is very different. Insisting on waking an 8-year old to deliver this news (assuming this report is true) – selfish, cowardly and weak are the adjectives that spring to mind. Despite Hancock trying to justify his behaviour through a friend telling the press his affair is a “love match” (vs blowing up two families for just illicit sex I suppose), I would be shocked if the mistress sticks around. She clearly had her reasons for engaging in such a risky affair, but whatever appeal Hancock held for her must surely have dissipated with the weasel-like behaviour that he has demonstrated towards his wife and family when the affair was about to be revealed
.combined with the whole unemployed-object-of-derision status Hancock now enjoys.

rosie.brocklehurst
rosie.brocklehurst
2 years ago

Liked the intro on this. Hancock loses because he comes over as a slimeball while his boss, who also behaves like a cad, is liked by a lot of the electorate. Is it Johnson’s air of muddlesome bonhomie that wins favour? If so, it is not just this Government’s low standards that prevail but that of the voting publics’ too. Not so interested in the rest of article as while cheating + the Sun’s possession of actual video, is what ‘done ‘im in, it was Hancock’s culpability for the death of thousands of very old in care homes and bare-faced lying about a protective ring, that he and his boss should be hung drawn and quartered for. The waste of public money on contracts to friends was criminal in my view but is a secondary issue to those deaths.

Lionel Woodcock
Lionel Woodcock
2 years ago

Why would anyone want to be a politician?
Clever and creative people avoid it. The result is those we are left with
and the cruel and hypocritical way we feel we are entitled to treat them as fools and charlatans.
Pieces like this lack balance and empathy and powerfully display just those self indulgent impulses they are criticising. A bit of self awareness might be called for perhaps. What a sad way to earn a living!

J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

Whatever the pros and cons of Mr. Hancock’s affair, Unherd’s recent article “The Talentless Mr. Osborne” predicts he’ll have a bright future of well-compensated board seats and consultancies.
There is much truth in the phrase “Failing upwards.”

Gary Beaumont
Gary Beaumont
2 years ago

More expert opinions from people who have no idea of the state or causes of the marriage break-up. After (secretly) disapproving for many years of a friend’s infidelity which caused his marriage to end, he finally spoke of his feelings one cool evening where he revealed his marriage had been sexless for 20 years, his wife frequently verbally abused him in relation to his upbringing and had also tried to blackmail him once when he drunkenly revealed a teenage ‘gay’ fumbling’. We just never know.

Last edited 2 years ago by Gary Beaumont
Andrew Roman
Andrew Roman
2 years ago

I wonder if infants enjoy infancy as much as so many adults enjoy adultery.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Roman

Adulcery ? Infantery ?

Wil Harper
Wil Harper
2 years ago

Badly argued article, in that as far as I can tell it has no message except a kind of purse lipped normative puritanism. Whatever the authors personal views about monogamy and marriage, historically humans have not equated marriage with love or sexual satisfaction, and there is a strong argument that we are not entirely monogamous. Our needs are for love, affection, sexual satisfaction, mutual support and partnership. They may come from a variety of sources and its only fault recently that we’ve assumed that a single partner marital relationship will fulfill them all AND provide the legal basis for the transfer of property and riaisnf of children (which was the purpose of marriage)

Fidelity does not have to mean sexual monogamy, it does for many people and lying to a long term partner of any kind is not healthy polite or adult. But sleeping with more than one person does not have to carry the emotive term of ‘cheating’ and judgemental pieces such as this hardly help people to have honest conversations about any of the ramifications of typing yourself to one person for life.

I was also surprised by the focus on the (assumed) hurt felt by only one party in this. No mention of the husband? Very little discussion of the children except that emotively written paragraph claiming to know what happened when MH left.

None of this is interesting or relevant to politics or indeed tells us anything knew about human behaviour.

In the end what I am left with is durther confirmation that journalism about other people’s private lives is always bad journalism, its either purient peering through the window at what is a deeply private matter, or it is muck raking and judgemental positioning of the worst kind.

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago

“
when straight relationships have an imbalance between a male partner who wants more sex and a female partner who wants to be left alone, it’s not because the woman is innately less frisky. She’s just bored off her tits.”
And vice versa, of course. Men, just like women, can sometimes find themselves no longer sexually attracted to their longterm partners, and, just like women, seek sexual satisfaction elsewhere.
Women can be just as “boring” in bed as men, in case you hadn’t noticed.
Yet, bizarrely, you appear to take a dimmer view of “cheating” men.
“There is a current culture of increasing permissiveness”

How chillingly puritanical and judgemental

“A friend of mine, currently writing a memoir about being married to a serially unfaithful man, sees the propensity to cheat as a matter of character”.
As you point out “infidelity” is now as common among women as it is among men, yet it is primarily only “cheated” women who feel the need to broadcast their suffering to the world and solicit sympathy as victims, whereas men, apparently, have only themselves to blame for the breakdown of the relationship.
Reading Ms Ditum, I often get the impression that she feels cursed by her heterosexuality and attraction to the males species.
For which men are also at fault presumably.

Laura Pritchard
Laura Pritchard
2 years ago

I’m thinking a lot about the propensity people have to cast the first stone. I suspect if everyone who had broken a pandemic regulation resigned tomorrow, there’d be hardly anyone at work. Mainly because most of them are unworkable at some point or another.
But really what I’m thinking of is, don’t get upset at Hancock breaking his regulations when you didn’t if you didn’t fight against their imposition, in the first place.

Gary Beaumont
Gary Beaumont
2 years ago

More expert opinions from people who have no idea of the state or causes of the marriage break-up. After (secretly) disapproving for many years of a friend’s infidelity which caused his marriage to end, he finally spoke of his feelings one cool evening where he revealed his marriage had been sexless for 20 years, his wife frequently verbally abused him in relation to his upbringing and had also tried to blackmail him once when he drunkenly revealed a teenage ‘gay’ fumbling’. We just never know.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
2 years ago

After John Major and Edwina Currie how can anybody be surprise about what any of them do?

Larissa Braun
Larissa Braun
1 year ago

Very well presented. Every quote was awesome and thanks for sharing the content. Keep sharing and keep motivating others.

Viviana Hicks
Viviana Hicks
1 year ago

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mike otter
mike otter
2 years ago

The wife went to Uni of Oxford too from what i read so she can have no illusions about what sort of man her husband is. They deserve each other and though the wife may show her acting skills as the wronged woman she can hardly have been surprised by his behaviour. If you create a separate academic system available for hire only to kids of the very rich you will get a lot of spoilt, entitled brats who don’t bother reading and learning as they do not need to. This attitude will be hard to change post university. Dishonesty in business and at home are normal for them, as are substance misuse and colossal stupidity at work when they are overpromoted because their parents or other ancestors were good at making money.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
2 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

Let me spell out this piece of reasoning for readers who have been to the University of Oxford, and are thus (by Mr Otter’s criteria) dimwits.

  1. Mr and Mrs Hancock both went to Oxford.
  2. Therefore they are stupid.
  3. Therefore Mrs Hancock didn’t realise that her husband was a liar and an adulterer.
  4. On the other hand, Mrs Hancock did realise all along that her husband was a liar and an adulterer and is only pretending to be hurt.
  5. Therefore Mike Otter can legitimately despise everyone who went to Oxford.

If you think that this is all strange logic, that’s probably because you’re a rich, stupid person who went to Oxford.
[Declaration of interest: I did go to Oxford, but my parents were the children of Jewish immigrants who didn’t manage to become rich, any more than my parents did.]

Last edited 2 years ago by Sue Sims
Peter Branagan
Peter Branagan
2 years ago

Surely, by any measure Matt Hancock is a better, more human, more moral individual than the author.

Jim Richards
Jim Richards
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Branagan

Hancock openly told cancer sufferers their treatment would be delayed unless he was obeyed. For a more accurate, considered judgement on the little weasel Google “Jonathan Pie Youtube Hancock”