During these few months of lockdown, you would expect a degree of level-headedness from the British press, especially considering how tense the general public are in regards of work and safety. However, it appears to me that the press are infact bored, with the slow easing of restrictions and are how well the public has been behaving, its not surprising why they’re reacting with such disproportionately. What I’m talking about is the apparent “headline news-worthy” topic of Mr Dominic Cummings. Mr Cummings is the chief advisor for Prime Minister (PM) Mr Boris Johnson, 5 days after the UK officially went into lockdown, he took several long journeys with his family all showing symtoms. Is this worth being on the headline news a month after it occured, or has it been blown out of proportion?
Here is a quick rundown of what everyone is so upset about.
• 23rd March
Boris Johnson made the first announcement of the UK going into lockdown, where travel is now only for essential or extreme reasons particularly (grocery shopping or medicine). Anyone caught driving outside of these exceptions will be given a fine.
• 27th March
Mr Cummings works closely with the PM at 10 Downing Street. His wife calls and explains that she is feeling ill with possible COVID-19 symptoms, as she also looks after their four-year-old child, Cummings felt it necessary to drive his family home to County Durham. As this is a crucial time for parliament, he returns back at London several hours later to continue his work. He then returned at Durham later that night.
• 28th March
Mr Cummings say he woke up clearly in pain with COVID symptoms.
• 2nd/3rd April
Cummings’ child was severely sick and taken to the hospital via ambulance (mother also occupied).
The child was discharged the next day as being “recovered” they were then picked up at the hospital by Mr Cummings, who stayed in the car.
Sometime afterwards Mr Cummings discussed with the PM his decision to travel to his home in Durham, this was around the time when the PM was also suffering with COVID so conveniently neither party can recall details about the conversation.
• 11th/12th April
Dominic Cummings having recovered, sought medical advice on whether it was deemed safe to return to work, he was told yes.
The next day Cummings, along with his wife and child drove to Barnard Castle, 30 miles from their home. After speaking with the press he claims this was due to him “testing” his ability to drive after his vision had been affected by his illness, he didn’t want to risk a drive to London.
Mr Cummings is seen walking into 10 Downing Street.
We can clearly see how Mr Cummings did not act reasonably with all his “essential” journeys. However, acting as a concerned husband/father we know they’re safety was at the forefront of his mind, acting as many of us would. The first few days of the initial lockdown was incredibly hectic, thousands of people had to make plans not knowing how long it will last. Nobody knew what they could or couldn’t do, and most still fully don’t. It should be no surprise that Mr Cummings thought it necessary to take his family back to Durham where the infection rate was much lower. Furthermore due to his essential job for the Government it was important for him to return to London as soon as possible.
On the other hand, we can safely assume that due to Mr Cummings’ high position within the Government, he had extensive knowledge about the details of the lockdown well ahead of the general public. But decided to instead make the journey home after the PM’s announcement fully aware of the consequences. Mr Cummings shows little remorse for his actions and has yet to even apologise. The test drive to Barnard Catle was obviously a trip for his family. Alternatively, however unlikely, its an admission of guilt to driving dangerously for 30 miles due to the acknowledgement of his impaired vision and possible other senses whilst behind the wheel.
These actions are only now being reported a month after they’ve occurred, with some MP’s calling for Mr Cummings’ resignation the PM has also been called out for supporting him. The simple idea would be for a public apology and accepting a fine for breaking lockdown rules, the press would have a moan but it would all be settled eventually. But instead his lack of sympathy now creates a break in confidence for the Government, and they now have to backtrack all other fines posed on the public for travelling due to childcare.
Frustratingly, Mr Cummings has actually done some good for our Government and played a role in the leave campaign. He has also expressed his opinions on the lack of diversity and knowledge within parliament. His own blog writes how he’s wanted less upper class MP’s due to their bias views, and instead bringing in people with more academic backgrounds, making him almost hated in some parts of the cabinet. Does that give him freedom to dismiss the rules he helped to bring into play? Absolutely not, but that’s the dilemma.
To conclude, we now know that Mr Cummings’ actions (in march/april) were fairly reasonable apart from his trip to Barnard Castle. However, he then got back to work as soon as he could. Because of his high position, I believe the story has blown way out of proportion. It can be argued it’s due to his own opposition or rather other MP’s that he’s gone againsts, simply not wanting to miss an opportunity to force Mr Cummings into retirement.
Does this path the way for others to act the same? Or does it set a precedent for other MP’s to simply dismiss their own laws.
Do we think the press acted reasonably or did they make a big fuss simply to cause distrust in our government.
Thanks for reading my written ramble.