✏️ Amy Brookes | @amybrookseyy

In case you’ve been self-isolating better than our chief political advisor, you’re probably aware of his recent and highly criticised movements. In fear of falling ill and having no childcare for his 4 year old son, Dominic Cummings traveled 260 miles to County Durham to stay near his family, just in case their assistance was needed. Within that time he became ill, yet traveled to hospital to pick up his son, and shortly after took a 60 mile round-trip to a local beauty spot to ‘test his eyesight,’ coincidentally on the day of his wife’s birthday. Yet Cummings has refused to apologise, hasn’t resigned and believes he acted within the lockdown rules. 

Dominic Cummings ran the Vote Leave campaign in 2016

Whilst Cummings was on the road the rest of the country were told to stay indoors, unless for absolutely essential travel. He travelled from the British epicentre of the virus to a region that at the time, only had 100 confirmed infections. All this, just in case he became ill. Are all precautionary measures deemed essential now? He also didn’t ever use the childcare of his family, making his whole journey unnecessary.

He cited his exceptional circumstances as a valid excuse. But an ill parent with a young child sounds particularly unexceptional in the current climate. To make matters worse he claimed a 60 mile journey with his child in the backseat, was to test his eye-sight; this man takes us all for fools. Has he borrowed Prince Andrew’s little black book of excuses? 

image via Giphy

GOV UK stated that essential travel does not include visits to second homes, including for isolation purposes. Yet the government has largely stood by Cummings. A key word that springs to mind: undermine. By arguing that Cummings acted lawfully when travelling cross country, while the rest of us were locked indoors, the government has sacrificed all integrity. Why should we lose time with loved ones when the architect of this whole idea does not respect it himself. It’s frightening what dangerous implications his behaviour could have on influencing others to flout the rules.

I can’t claim that the rest of the nation has behaved perfectly all the time; an apparent 29% of us have admitted to bending the rules. However, as the main architect of these guidelines, his disregard will likely have a significant impact on others’ adherence to the lockdown rules. This is much bigger than if you or I spent the afternoon sitting in a neighbours garden. He has to be held accountable, yet he won’t even admit wrongdoing. 

He isn’t the only one trying to defend the indefensible. Cumming’s closest political pals have been quick to argue that he acted reasonably, honourably and within the rules. Michael Gove even claimed he too has used driving as an alternative eye-test. Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked magazine, acknowledged that Cummings did break the rules, but for justifiable reasons. This only further implies that rules and consequences do not apply to the most powerful. If an ordinary citizen robbed a shop till to pay for their sick mother’s medicine, would this same acceptance still apply? It’s hard to believe. 

image from artist Ruben Dangoor

Another running theme here is the hypocrisy of those standing by his actions. Two other leading figures in this fight we are supposedly in together, had to resign from their posts for, you guessed it… breaking lockdown rules! Government scientist Neil Ferguson was caught doing quite the opposite of social distancing when he traveled to meet his mistress. An unacceptable act nonetheless, however Ferguson had been infected and recovered from the virus, therefore making his chances of transmission significantly lower.

Our own health secretary Matt Hancock described this as ‘extraordinary’, an act that left him ‘speechless’ and one that should be investigated by police. At least Ferguson had the decency to stay indoors with her, I hope. Brendon O’Neill, mentioned earlier as a known defender of Cummings, previously wrote that Ferguson demonstrated how ‘it’s one rule for them and another for us.’ BoJo highlighted key differences that proved Cumming’s innocence; that at least he ‘wasn’t meeting a lover.’ I must have missed something, are lovers more contagious than family? 

Similarly, Scotland’s chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood was snapped visiting her holiday home for a weekend. Calderwood and first minister Nicola Sturgeon agreed that her actions had undermined the advice she gave out, and therefore had to stand down. Yet Cummings cannot see fault, let alone apologise, for his actions. 

Boris Johnson, who can’t stay loyal to a woman or an unknown number of offspring, is sacrificing his credibility to save one singular civil servant. Why? Does Cummings have some dirt on our PM? Will he leak his nudes?! It appears that Dominic Cummings is the true puppet-master of a performance we know as 10 Downing Street. The mastermind behind Brexit and ironically the creator of ‘stay home, protect the NHS, save lives’ – Cummings is the brains of Boris’ character, and the government cannot afford to see him go. 

Image via Unsplash

The support from Cumming’s posse has proven their untouchable sense of superiority and elitism. When asked whether thousands of fines given to those who broke lockdown travel restrictions would now be revoked, the answer was no. His inability to apologise has shown an outrageous lack of respect for the people his policies dictate. 

Another woe to add to Boris’ worries is the cracks, or rather earthquakes, that have appeared within the Conservative Party as a result. At the time of writing, 35 Tory MPs have called for Cummings to be sacked. Most of them emphasising that the leading Brexiteer’s refusal to leave Westminster implies he is above the law. Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, explains how it’s a textbook case of ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ And who could forget that Civil Service tweet.

Image from The UK Civil Service Twitter

In contrast, a country of dramatically polarized politics seems to finally agree on one thing. The often Conservative-favouring Daily Mail wrote that 80% think Cummings broke lockdown rules. YouGov showed that 52% of respondents believed he should resign. Quite astounding for a government that achieved an overwhelming majority only five months ago. 

Could the Cummings scandal be the final straw in what seems to be a bottomless bucket of final straws? We have the highest death rate in Europe, we are still not quarantining airport arrivals and continue to frantically try to source PPE from abroad. When is enough enough?!

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Last Update: July 17, 2020