Whose blinds were down today?

Andy McSmith

Matthew Hancock, the youngish and profoundly ambitious Tory business minister who once drew a modest comparison between himself, William Pitt, Benjamin Disraeli and Winston Churchill, is in a spot of bother. Hancock is the ally and former special adviser of the Chancellor George Osborne. It was Osborne who set the tone of the government’s current campaign on the cost of welfare when he talked about “the shift-worker, leaving home in the dark hours of the early morning, who looks up at the closed blinds of their next-door neighbour sleeping off a life on benefits.”

Hancock reinforced the point with a tweet saying how “shocking” it was that an unemployed man interviewed on LBC radio had said that he turned down a job offer because it would have meant starting work at 8.00 am.

Hancock was invited onto Daybreak television this morning to debate the government policy with Ian Pattison, from the pressure group Youth Fight for Jobs. It was an early start – too early for the minister, who arrived too late to take part.

“If the Minister was a jobseeker, he could lose his benefits for up to three months for such an offence. Luckily, the Tory MP doesn’t have to worry about things like that,” an outraged Mr Pattison said afterwards.

Mr Hancock pleaded guilty. “I was 30 seconds late for my interview at 6.40 this morning, so they wouldn’t let me into the studio to make my case,” he said. “It proves the point: you’ve got to be on time for work or there are consequences. I’ll learn from my own example.”

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