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The strange allure of super-dweeb Matt Hancock

Rowan Pelling is immune to the former health secretary’s charms, but has seen powerful men make professional women go weak at the knees – and knows how strong an aphrodisiac Westminster can be

Friday 01 December 2023 15:53 GMT
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<p>Action man: former health secretary Matt Hancock </p>

Action man: former health secretary Matt Hancock

Matt Hancock is what my schoolfriends and I, aged 17, would have unkindly called a “dweeb”. Maybe even a super-dweeb. What we would have meant by that is he seems gawky, bungling, eager but hopeless, fatally lacking in charisma, wit and social graces. Politics’ very own version of Frank Spencer.

And yet somehow, during lockdown, he managed to attract the undeniably gorgeous Gina Coladangelo to his side – a woman he’d known since his Oxford student days, but who seemed out of his league back then. So, what’s changed? Or to alter the question made famous by Mrs Merton: what was it that first attracted you to cabinet minister Matthew Hancock?

The fact is power works like catnip on many women. Men who wouldn’t have warranted a second glance as an accountant, or even a backbencher, suddenly acquire a sexy sheen when they are promoted to secretary of state, with the sudden ability to hold sway over huge budgets and millions of lives. Even more so, you imagine, when they’re in charge of the nation’s health during a crisis, when they can muster top scientists and logistics people round a table and talk about “saving lives”, “battling the virus” and using language more suited for war.

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