A 2017 column from Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been doing the rounds on Twitter after he claimed to be a fan of grime.
Writing for The Times, Hancock stated: “As a grime fan, I know the power of the UK’s urban music scene. I have the great honour of championing British music around the world. As we look out across the globe as a nation, our music is one of our strongest calling cards.”
The politician drew attention to the UK being the second largest music exporter behind the US, stating: “From classical to pop, punk to grime, the UK’s music is loved all over the world. It hardly needs saying that this dominance is down to the ingenuity and creativity of British artists. So it is hugely important that music reflects the diversity of modern Britain.”
He continued: “For example, as a fan of grime music, I know our amazing urban music makes a massive contribution to our creative industries. The sounds of Skepta and Lady Leshurr are making waves across the world.”
Fast forward to 2020 and the government’s handling of the creative industries throughout the pandemic has left many people to see the hypocrisy in Hancock’s culture-praising article. Others don’t believe he’s a grime fan at all.
Dan Hancox, author of Inner City Pressure: The Story of Grime, took to Twitter to highlight an insert from his book which read: “Tory Culture Minister Matt Hancock met Skepta at the Mercury after-party, and told the Daily Mirror that he and his team listened to grime in the back of the ministerial car – though asked to name his favourite track, he couldn’t think of a single one, and turned to his aide for help.”
Fans joked on social media saying: “Get Matt Hancock on Newsnight so Paxman can grill him on his top 5 grime instrumentals, bet he doesn’t even know who Danny Weed is”.
In a reference to Alan Partridge, another user posted: “What’s your favourite grime album, Matt Hancock? “Hmmm, I’d have to say ‘The Best of Grime’”.
Get Matt Hancock on Newsnight so paxman can grill him on his top 5 grime instrumentals, bet he doesn’t even know who Danny Weed is
— Jake Jones (@Jtleonard) October 6, 2020
What’s your favourite grime album, Matt Hancock? “Hmmm, I’d have to say ‘The Best of Grime’”
— Tom Williamson (@skepticCanary) October 5, 2020
I've no idea why Matt Hancock's 2017 article about grime is suddenly going viral, but there's more in my book, ofc – most notably, the time he claimed to be a huge Skepta fan but then couldn't remember the names of any of his songs https://t.co/kxmDujCJmJ
— Dan Hancox (@danhancox) October 5, 2020
Despite the comical image of a conservative politician listening to grime, Hancock did in fact fight to scrap the MET’s events risk-assessment form 696, which unfairly targeted grime artists and shows.
However, the backlash seems to be based on the government’s lack of support for the events and music sector, leading to a third of musicians feeling like they might have to quit due to a lack of stability.
The UK’s Minister for Care, Helen Whately, recently confirmed on Sky News that the government would no longer focus on providing aid for the nightlife industry, stating: “[It] doesn’t make sense to continue supporting jobs where there simply isn’t work at the moment … we’ve got to support people where they can be working”. Interviewer Kay Burley responded: “So you’re not going to support the nightlife industry? It’s done? Finished?”
Health Minister @Helen_Whately: “It doesn’t make sense to continue supporting jobs where there simply isn’t work at the moment.”
— Kay Burley (@KayBurley) September 28, 2020