For years, we have been told how great it will be when we leave Europe and lose our right to free movement. ‘We’ will ‘take back control’, you see. ‘We’ being the illiberal elite. How odd, then, that when the government tells all of us to ‘stay home’ (sic), it’s main protagonists, the people who did more to take us out of Europe than anyone else, promptly don’t.
We read recently about career politician (oh yes he is) Nigel Farage driving hundreds of miles to Dover in order to fail to find some illegal immigrants, getting around lockdown rules by pretending to be a journalist and declaring he was on the frontline. Now, we have something much worse. The very man who invented ‘Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives’ breached the lockdown rules big time.
In late March, Boris Johnson told us that “we must stay at home” and most of us did. But then his chief advisor, and unarguably the most powerful unelected official in the land, Dominic Cummings became infected with COVID-19. If we had symptoms, continued Johnson, we must stay at home and self-isolate. Cummings travelled 264 miles from his London home to stay in an address in Durham.
Cummings cited childcare issues for the reason for their trip to Durham. So they were too ill to look after their child but perfectly okay to travel just slightly light of 300 miles to self-isolate.
The absolute hypocrisy of Cummings is breathtaking. This is the man who came up with the ‘elite versus the people’ message when helping Boris Johnson lie his way to achieving success for his vote leave campaign. Yet when the people are instructed to stay at home, Cummings does what he likes.
Matt Hancock, the beleaguered health secretary said this: “I end with the advice we all know. This advice is not a request – it is an instruction. Stay at home, protect lives and then you will be doing your part.” But Cummings has only revealed, as if we didn’t know already, that he is an integral part of the so-called elite and here he treats ‘the people’ with utter contempt. This instruction does not apply to the illiberal elite.
Most of us will know people who have lost loved ones to COVID-19. We will know those who have survived the disease, only just in some cases. People could not travel to see let alone hold their relatives before they died. Some of us have attended funerals where numbers were limited and pall bearers were dressed from head to toe in PPEs. And then this happens.
Johnson should now sack Cummings without further ado. The government’s handling of the pandemic has been pitiful at best and to now discover that the power behind the throne, and arguably the man sitting in it for most of the time, has behaved so contemptuously is a step too far. Cummings is now the story and this scandal must not be allowed to disappear into the ether.
I end with some words about the piss poor standards of journalism employed by the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg. Her tweets have been little other than an unquestioning repetition of claims made by ‘sources close to Dominic Cummings’, which we can take to mean Cummings is the actual source, unless we are told otherwise. The most powerful man in Westminster is a control freak on steroids. No source close to Cummings would pass on such information without Cummings’s say so.
I still believe that the BBC is the best and most trusted news organisation in the world and it is the organisation that most people turn to in times of trouble. Kuenssberg’s lazy repetition of comments made, almost certainly, by Dominic Cummings about Dominic Cummings, does not surely represent the high standards of journalism we expect from ‘Auntie’.
Cummings represents a new kind of nasty in British politics. If Kuenssberg is not capable of holding people like him to account, then let’s hope the BBC will replace her with someone who can.