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02nd Feb 2018

Hrtbps’ Weekly SOAL: Appy Days, Patriot Games and Dog Whistlers

This week's swoll SOAL features Matt Hancock (by Matt Hancock), Gavin Williamson, and Nigel 'Nicey' Farage



Politics can be exhausting. Often, there is little time to catch your breath between the big stories. Things happen at breakneck speed, especially in the era of rolling news and social media. Sometimes it can feel like there is too much news, and the public’s attention struggles to focus on any one story. But occasionally a story breaks that is so big, it stops you in your tracks. You feel a sudden sense of clarity. “This is it,” you’ll say to yourself. “From this day on, nothing will be the same again.”

Matt Hancock has launched an app. Matt Hancock, the Culture Secretary, has launched an app. Matt Hancock, the Culture Secretary, has launched an app called Matt Hancock MP. A decade after the release of the Matt Hancock biopic, Hancock, starring Will Smith, the MP for West Suffolk has seen fit to venture once again into territory unknown, bestowing upon us an app worthy of the name, Matt Hancock.

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In a crowded field of clumsy attempts by the Conservatives at connecting with young people, this certainly is up there.

Matt Hancock MP (the app) is largely a Facebook clone that allows members to watch/comment on Matt Hancock MP (the human)’s live streams and post updates, and have group chats…about Matt Hancock. Matt has even recorded a welcome message to those who download his app, delivered with the flourish of a hostage begging the authorities to meet the demands of their kidnappers.

But credit where it’s due. Hancock is pushing boundaries here. Not only has he become the first MP ever to launch their own app, but he is actively trying to engage people – ostensibly his West Suffolk constituents – in politics, and connect in a new and innovative way.

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Hancock – whose name can in absolutely no way be used to make jokes – has offered those who download the app the opportunity to add comments. A feature that will certainly not be hijacked.

The app has been criticised by some, however, for its privacy flaws – which is ironic given that as Culture Secretary, part of Hancock’s role is to oversee data protection laws in the UK.

It was pointed out by some that even when users opt to deny the app access to their phone’s photos, it is still able to post them.

I spent some time on the app. For research purposes, you understand. I…errr…downloaded it for the articles, and whilst still in its infancy, the community on there is thriving. It highlights the best of British. People from disparate walks of life coming together with the common goal of gently mocking and subverting authority. It stands out as a beacon to good spirit in an online hellscape. It does not get much better than this.

Somewhere in Westminster, there are a couple of aides shaking their heads and going, “I can’t believe he actually agreed to it.”


Gavin Williamson, a man so beta he keeps a tarantula named Cronus on his desk, continues his covert Tory leadership manoeuvres this week with all the subtlety of Brian Blessed stepping on an upturned plug in a library.

Defence Secretary Williamson, the Sun excitedly revealed in a ‘world exclusive’, has ordered that EU flags flying outside the Ministry of Defence’s London HQ to be removed and replaced with Union Jacks.

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And in another world exclusive, this time for, I can reveal that an MoD source confided that Williamson has also called for more respect for are troops. “Pay are troops EU elites’ wages,” the Defence Secretary is said to have demanded, patriotically.

Some commentators have suggested that Williamson’s interventions could see the UK’s Respect for Troops Level rise from DUSK to MIDNIGHT.


And so we turn our attention to this column’s favourite local radio DJ, Nigel Farage, who this week reflected on the conviction of the far-right terrorist Darren Osborne.

Osborne has been sentenced to life in prison after driving his van into a crowd of Muslims outside a Finsbury Park mosque in June 2017, killing one and injuring 12. During the trial, the court had heard that Osborne had been “brainwashed by anti-Muslim propaganda.”

Farage wondered whether the attack would divide or unite communities.

“Does it make many in the Muslim community fear that they’re all being branded as terrorists,” asked the erstwhile Ukip leader.

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It is refreshing to see fearless journalism such as this. In recent years, extremist voices have crept into the mainstream. Too many media outlets have been happy to accommodate these fringe voices in the quest for ‘balance’, or higher ratings.

Opportunists who have been happy to stoke anti-immigrant fears for their own political and personal gain have been allowed to radicalise followers like Osborne. LBC must be commended for shining a light on these hate preachers.