Boris Johnson has showed his true colours ever since the allegations against top aide Dominic Cummings breaking lockdown regulations came out. Every word out of the government has been so absurdly insulting to the intelligence and integrity of the British public that it put paid to the image that Johnson is some sort of champion of the people against the elites, in the great struggle of ‘us and them’. The last two days have proven that Johnson and his ilk are firmly in the ‘them’ camp.
First of all, you have a key government aide deciding to flout the rules of the lockdown, while both he and his wife were displaying symptoms, to travel 260 miles from London to Durham with a young child, who could possibly have been exposed to the virus if it turnedout either he or his wife were in fact carrying it. The fact that his son was ill requiring a paramedic to come and visit the child, potentially exposing the paramedic to the COVID virus, and to then take said child and his mother who was displaying symptoms in an ambulance to a hospital in an area where they don’t live, which completely contravenes the goverment advice and undermines Cummings’ statement yesterday that the reason he took the trip in the first place was to stop any possible spread of the virus. His wife has family living in London, they couldn’t have organised to have one of them take of the child if they both fell ill? Why did they have to drive 260 miles so that his nieces could take care of him? If the child had become infected, and thus contagious, it would have put his nieces at risk, regardless of their age. His driving to Barnard Castle is almost inexpicable. He decided to drive 20 miles to a local beauty spot to test whether his eyesight was back to normal? I’m sorry, what?! And government ministers like Michael Gove have tried to defend that journey by claiming it was actually for his permitted daily exercise. But, Cummings had said in his statement on Monday that the drive was far more about testing his eyesight, which had been affected, before making the journey back to London to return to work. The facts are being stretched to suit the story. And they are being stretched far beyond breaking point.
Cummings’ reaction when the story broke only hurt his case. He came across, as he nearly always does in confrontations with the press, as rude, condescending and ultimately as though he feels the rules do not seem to apply to him. His manner has been so confrontational whenever he has been asked a question outside his house or wherever, that his contempt for the press is only too clear. Obnoxiously telling the reporters to maintain social distancing, mockingly say they didn’t get Brexit right, and they haven’t got this right either. None of that engenders any sort of respect from journalists. Both he and Johnson repeatedly said that the reports were inaccurate when the story initially broke, but that has proven to largely not be the case. The only reported factor so far that has proven to be inaccurate is that he made another journey to Durham after returning to London. A reckoning has been coming between Cummings and the press ever since he tried to manipulate the press briefings to only allow certain organisations in. As one, the press corps got up and walked out in protest. And since then, the press will have been wanting to take advantage of any slip on his part.
Johnson’s immediate attempt to shut down any debate was shameful. In their attempts to explain away the controversy, Johnson and Cummings repeatedly made mention that Cummings was acting out of concern for the health and wellbeing of his child, as any reasonable parent would do. By using this as their opening argument, they seem to implying that if you disagree with the reasoning given for Cummings taking this journey, then you are a bad parent who doesn’t care for their child. That is ridiculous. It’s also what drew a lot of ire from people. They were not going to stand being lectured about good parenting by, above all people, Boris Johnson. A man who fails to remember who many children he actually has.
They may try to claim that the letter of the regulations allowed for Cummings to take this journey and that it was all perfectly reasonable and above board. To many however, it looked like a man using his privileged position to do something many people thought was outside their ability to do, and no matter how technically legal his actions may have been, if you think they are, was the wrong course of action to take. In fact, many have questioned whether Cummings’ actions were actually in line with the regulations. But it seems that Johnson is so scared of trying to actually govern, with this man pulling the strings in the background that he will bend over backwards to try and keep him around. And that proves beyond any shadow of a doubt, that when you have connections running to the top of this government, it really is one rule for some and another for the rest of us. Johnson has seriously damaged his image of the everyman fighting the cause of the common man and has shown himself for what he truly is. A man of great privilege operating purely for his own gain, in this case keeping Dominic Cummings around in his role within government.
To my mind, Dominic Cummings should have been asked for his resignation or just straight up removed from his role. His attitude was deplorable and it set him up to be attacked for it. No matter his importance to the running of government or concern for his child, as someone in a public role, he cannot act like he did before his press conference. His arrogance and contempt for the media was laid bare. Add to that he and his boss’s blatant attempts to sweep the story under the rug, and assuming that the British public would just accept it, shows that they believed they could lead the gullible public to the conclusion they wanted people to reach. Well, they haven’t. And Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson and the whole of the Tory frontbench may have just fatally undermined themselves.