A minister being driven from office by a sex scandal seems terribly quaint, a throwback to the days when a red-top sunday paper could break the reputations of powerful men by exposing a quirky peccadillo under the pinstripe.
By contrast the clinch that brought down ex-Health Secretary Matt Hancock was the sort of awkward fumble more often seen in the school disco than in the old News of the World, and yet to the public it was infinitely more obscene. Mr Hancock was making rules that the public followed stoically, but he clearly didn’t believe that they applied to him. Exit Mr Hancock.
His surprise successor is a proper heavyweight. Sajid Javid had already two of the great offices of state when his Chancellorship was derailed by a clash with the PM’s charity shop Richelieu, Dominic Cummings (another man who seemingly felt that lockdown rules were for the little people).
Mr Javid inherits quite the in-tray. He has to make sense of ending lockdown while cases of COVID are going up; he has to oversee the NHS clearing a backlog of non-COVID work; oh and then there is the small matter of helming the Government’s new Health and Social Care bill through Parliament.
But a tougher task will be breaking down the perception the idea that there is one rule for us, another for them. Pointing out the difference between Mr Javid’s banking pay packet and a nurse’s is arguably a cheap jibe, but it will prove a sticky one – unless he can demonstrate some empathy with NHS staff. This year’s pay award is a watershed moment, and Matt Hancock’s clumsy snog might just prove to
be a Judas kiss for his successor.