Radio Solent were yesterday trailing an interview with Mike Hancock, which apparently culminated in him hanging up on interviewer Jessica Parker. Sadly, we didn’t get to hear the full version this morning, which is understandable in one sense as there is a lot to get into a programme while we still have the outrageous treatment of the King family rumbling along.
However, what we did get was interesting enough. The audio of the interview is below. Hancock claims he has been in poor health, and still is, saying that “for the first time in my life I am going to do what I’ve been advised to do by doctors”. This is true – when he first came back from his heart operation, it was much more quickly than doctors advised. He is a man who is keen not to let the grass grow under his feet.
On returning to Parliamentary duty, he said “As soon as I’m well enough and I feel strong enough to be able to deal with it…..I can’t go back as I was straight away”. Given that “as he was” from long before he was ill was pretty much a part-time MP with an appalling attendance record, I’m not sure that is any comfort to his constituents. I wouldn’t wish ill-health on anyone, but if he’s not up to the job, after years of under-representing Portsmouth South, it’s time he set the people free and stepped down.
As it is, he is still keeping an open mind about standing in 2015. “There will be a very interesting election come May,and I think it will be a very hard-fought contest whoever the candidates are”. Pressed on his relationship with Gerald Vernon-Jackson, who has now replaced him as the Lib Dem candidate in Portsmouth South, all he would say was “I have nothing to say about Gerald Vernon-Jackson. When I do say it I will say it publicly at the appropriate time”.
It sounds like there are more Lib Dem skeletons in the cupboard. Have relations between the two broken down irreparably, even after everything Gerald has done for Mike? He helped him get “the best deal we could” out of the Lib Dem chief whip when the disciplinary process started, after all.
There is now no question of Hancock being able to stand as a Lib Dem, so he will have to stand as an independent, as he did in Fratton Ward in May. On that occasion, the Lib Dems gave him a free run and he still lost. Hancock said “I’m not making any decision about my future until I know exactly how I stand in regards to my health”.
Finally, he was asked about the disciplinary inquiry into his behaviour by the Lib Dems. As I’ve previously explained, there presently isn’t one, because it was suspended by the Lib Dems at the start of the year to allow his court case to take place. The court case never has taken place, because Hancock has admitted most of the complaints against him, made a grovelling apology, and agreed a financial settlement with the complainant. Even so, the Lib Dems have failed after nine weeks to restart the process. In that time they have managed to consider the similar case against Lord Rennard and re-admit him. Nobody in the party can explain why the Regional Parties Committee, which only meets a couple of times a year, didn’t take the opportunity of dealing with Hancock in a timely manner.
All Hancock had to say when questioned was “I’ve not been here. I’ve been on holiday with my grandchildren. I didn’t want to have any communications at all about any of this until I was back and I was settled myself”.
Has he been ill or has he been on holiday? It gives the impression that the Lib Dems are letting Hancock set the pace of their inquiry into him. There is nothing to suggest otherwise from the Lib Dem party, because they have been totally inactive.
When Jessica Parker pressed him on the contradiction between claiming he’s been ill and claiming he’s been a busy constituency MP while he’s been on holiday, he ended with the pitiable statement that “You can ask whatever you like…the answer I want to give you is that I’m not discussing those sort of things. I’m not going to fall into the trap I did before of trying to answer a running commentary of what’s going on in my life”. You see people, none of this is his fault. It’s all these people asking awkward questions about him molesting a constituent. If only they’d leave him alone, everything would be alright!
Here’s the audio of the interview: