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Matt Hancock’s campaign diary


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Friday, 14 June 2019

Matt Hancock’s campaign diary

Quit while you’re ahead. That’s one of my mottos. Discretion is the better part of valour. That’s another.

I gave it my best shot. A lot of people thought I could do it. In fact, my team at the Department started encouraging me to go for the PM’s job even before we knew there would be a leadership campaign. That’s how keen they are to see me get on. I’m lucky to have such a great bunch of chaps (and girls) working with me.

They seem incredibly disappointed that I’m out of the race. Lucinda is in floods of tears. I remind her that it means I’ll be staying on in Richmond House for a bit longer, but it just makes her worse. I had no idea she was so attached to me.

Ministerial waffle

Stevens drops in for a chat, but I’m not really in the mood to talk about provider deficits and workforce issues. The ruddy man talks in riddles half the time. I only found out last week that "providers" means hospitals – I don’t know why he can’t just say so. I make a mental note to ask Lucinda to Google “workforce” in case it comes up again.

I give him one of my campaign goody bags in the hope that he’ll get the message and bugger off back to Elephant and Castle. I’ve already eaten the little waffle biscuit. Not really sure why Lucinda thought these would go well with my launch speech but the press seemed to like them.

Stevens agrees the bags were a nice touch, particularly the phone battery. Everyone loves a bit of tech. I was particularly proud of the slogan and the stickers. Stevens smirks when I tell him I knocked them up myself on my iPad, but I can tell he’s impressed.

We’re interrupted by an apologetic fellow who asks if he can measure the office. Something about a new carpet. I tell him to come back later, but I’m relieved that Stevens takes it as his cue to leave.

On his way out he shakes my hand and tells me it’s been nice knowing me. Seems oddly formal, but I’ve given up trying to work out his funny little ways.

Pure Partridge

Media team pop in for a debrief. We review the video of my speech. They wanted to give me a script but everyone agrees it was the right thing to do to use my own words. Nobody can speak afterwards. It’s an emotional moment. Justin finally recovers his composure. “It was literally incredible,” he says.

A lot of other people seem to agree. The consensus on Twitter seems to be that it was “Pure Partridge” – a reference to a popular broadcaster. I’ll take that as a compliment.

It’s hard to put a finger on what went wrong.  Messages were spot on, like my point that after Brexit we’d have more start-up businesses than ever. Some of them could even be run by people who used to work in manufacturing or financial services.  

I also dropped in a reference to the fact that I run the NHS, partly to show my great track record of achievement and partly, I admit, because it irritates that heck out of me that Stevens goes around telling people it’s his job.

In the end we agree that it was probably the drug revelations. I was practically the only candidate who didn’t have any. I tell Justin that next time we'll make jolly sure that we leak some stories about banging shandy hangovers and wild late night chess parties from my college days.

As the team are filing out, a woman with a clipboard strolls in and asks about redecoration. I tell her she must have the wrong office.

Must let Lucinda know that we can’t just have people coming in off the street.

As I’m showing the clipboard woman out I notice that Stevens has left his party bag behind. So I press it into her hand and tell her to keep it as a souvenir. When I finally make it to Number 10, a personalised Matt Hancock phone battery will be worth quite a bit. Stevens will be sorry he forgot to take it.       

Diary editor: Julian Patterson