Time for MP to make the headlines for right reasons

COMMENT: Bandstand event is a victim of its own success

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It’s fair to say it’s been a forgettable week for Matthew Hancock.

The Minister for Portsmouth has been linked with two gaffes in as many days which have left his political opponents rubbing their hands with delight.

First it was retweeting an anti-gay poem on Twitter. Now it’s Mr Hancock’s office mistaking a letter written to him about proposed new homes in Milton for Milton Keynes – the Buckinghamshire town more than 100 miles away from Portsmouth.

While the knives may be being sharpened in some quarters, a sense of perspective is needed.

The retweet of the limerick on National Poetry Day which said the Labour party was ‘full of queers’ can be put down as a genuine human error.

Then there’s the Milton mix-up. Having staff not know a ward of the city you are meant to be representing is most certainly embarrassing. But knowledge of every facet of Portsmouth is perhaps asking too much.

Criticism can be directed towards Mr Hancock in other ways, however.

There’s been plenty of boosts for the city in recent weeks, including this week’s announcement of a £600m maintenance contract for the naval base.

But amid all the positives, still we wait for the government to outline a plan for shipbuilding to stay in Portsmouth.

And while Michael Fallon, the previous Minister for Portsmouth, seemed to be an integral role in helping the city get back on its feet following BAE’s decision to move its shipbuilding operation to Scotland, Mr Hancock – the man who should be leading the fight to make that happen – is noticeable by his absence.

We can only hope that now the Scottish independence debate has been solved, action rather than words is not too far away.

But more is needed from Mr Hancock to dispel criticism that his ministerial position is just ‘window dressing’ from the government.

His actions over the past week can be defended. His lack of action as Minister for Portsmouth to date most certainly cannot.