Dominic Cummings Breach: Do As I Say, Not As I Do
Updated: May 31
On the 23rd of March, the U.K. entered a period of lockdown, shutting schools, places of leisure and making clear that all unessential travel was prohibited. It was laid out that we were not to travel unnecessarily, even if simply just to visit family members or loved ones. Even more so, if you were found to have symptoms of the virus, you were to self isolate and not leave home under any circumstances. People who break these restrictions faced warnings and fines from the police. These rules have not been changed.
On the 22nd of May, news broke out that the British Government's Senior Advisor Dominic Cummings had breached lockdown rules. Cummings drove 260 miles from London to Durham to his parent's house, whilst apparently showcasing symptoms of the Coronavirus. Clearly, this is a huge breach of the lockdown.
However, the U.K. Government and many officials have rejected these claims, instead supporting the actions of their colleague. The Conservative officials have come out in hoards, with eerily similar tweets coming out in quick succession of one another showing levels of praise for Cummings rather than negativity. Each of these tweets had a clear outline: declare innocence and rightful doing from Cummings, and then to try and rubbish the claims made as 'politically motivated'.
Those are just two examples, with the likes of the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove and Attorney General Suella Braverman being amongst countless other examples of officials doing so.
What is hugely worrying is that the first pictured example comes from the man who has outlined and produced the lockdown criteria. Matt Hancock is the Health Secretary, the man who should be most clued up on this. Yet, he is jumping to the aid of his colleague. Hancock has countless times issued press conferences outlining the things people can and cannot do. As aforementioned, Hancock has stated those with the virus or symptoms should not leave their homes at all, as well as stating individuals should not visit family members. Yet, he seems to have done a complete 180 as his tweet suggests. By describing something he's outlined as the wrong thing as the right thing is wholly confusing and leads to questions about his credibility.
How can the Nation have faith in a man whos changed his mind, seemingly based on who has broken the rules? We've been in lockdown for around two months now and these rules have been expressed to us and haven't been shifted. But all of a sudden, this is thrown out of the window. And then again, not completely as they state we should continue to abide his rules. Confused yet?
When the Health Secretary is not calling out this kind of thing, it impacts the rest of the country. Many people will be thinking to themselves "Why should I abide when *insert name here* doesn't have to?" showing the (further) loss of faith in our leaders. Hancock has publicly stated to the country that the rules are different for some than to others.
The incident in question is Cummings driving himself, his coronavirus symptom showing wife and his children from London to Durham (260 miles). The protecting responses have stated that Cummings has acted in a way in to protect his family from becoming further ill and not catch the virus from the stricken parent. Now I'm no scientist, but if you want to avoid catching something from someone, you don't all pile into the tight confinements of a car and spend hours circulating the same air as each other. You certainly shouldn't be disobeying the guidelines, especially as a leading government official.
Cummings facing the public (Sky News Image)
Cummings traveled cross country to a relative's house in order for childcare, despite having relatives much closer by which he chose to ignore. Reports have come out of Cummings spending time at the house and somewhat of a party atmosphere, with the Cummings family seemingly honouring the NHS with the music of ABBA rather than the usual clapping. Again, it is important to remember that family interaction was one of the things that was ruled out by Hancock and many others, never mind with a known carrier of the virus.
The U.K. has a whole has had to make massive sacrifices over the last few months. There are people I know who have missed religious celebrations, birthdays and funerals because of the guidelines that have been set out. There's a large portion of the population who have followed everything, even in the toughest and worst of times. People have died alone, people have had funerals with only a handful of loved ones. Can Mr. Cummings, Mr. Hancock or anyone else explain to these families why that was the case and yet, why they're allowed to differently?
To make things even more confusing is that this isn't the first example of an official acting against the guidance. In April, it was reported that Catherine Calderwood, Scotland's Chief Medical Officer, was seen breaching the lockdown and going against her own advice about how to deal with the virus, traveling 44 miles to a holiday home more than once. She was met with immense pressure and calls to resign by many, including political parties. She eventually did.
Professor Neil Ferguson had a similar story. Ferguson is an epidemiologist who was a part of the COVID-19 Response Team and a Government Advisor for SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies), was found to be 'meeting up' with a woman and breaching the rules. He resigned.
What is particularly interesting, is that none of these officials received any support from the likes of Hancock. In fact, it was very much the opposite. Hancock told Sky News that he supported the police if they were to take action against Ferguson, as well as stating "I think he took the right decision to resign".
So why is it one rule for one and not the other? Why are some to be held accountable for their actions and not others? One can only imagine the reason for such hypocrisy. As many cry out that many are against Cummings for 'political motives', it comes across as incredibly laughable.
These Officials have really backed themselves into a corner, not only due to their turn a blind eye approach to this fiasco. They have put their necks on the line by ardently supporting Cummings, stating enthusiastically that he has not done anything to breach the rules. They could've taken action and moved on from there. Unfortunately, further revelations were to be released and their decisions surely to come back to haunt them.
The next day after the initial story regarding Cummings broke, the Mirror and the Guardian released further information to do with this incident. It appears that the selfless Cummings was a repeat offender. These reports included eyewitnesses, police reports and an admission from Cummings' own father that he has made multiple travels to the Northern Town and was staying in their residence. The reports described Cummings' multiple visits with walks and interactions with locals 260 miles from his home where any normal person would have been encouraged to stay in.
Now surely with the news of multiple breaches, Cummings can no longer be defended. It's as clear as day that this is a total flaunt of the lockdown and that action must be taken. Unfortunately, it seems as if the Government are taking a page out of our Trans-Atlantic neighbour's books and claiming 'Fake News'.
Now it is one thing to rubbish the claim from the media. But not only are they calling the media liars, but those eyewitnesses who caught Cummings in the act too. And not only those eyewitnesses, but the Police who protect and serve us every day. This is completely inexcusable and showcases the total willingness of these people in order to protect their own. If only they acted so promptly and had the same level of urgency to protect at the start of this virus, we wouldn't have 30k+ deaths.
Those in charge have set a massive precedent with this scandal. It's been made abundantly clear that they feel the person in question can do as he pleases, and they'll blindly stick up for him. Not only this, but they know that many will support him too. Akin to that of fickle football supporters, they will support their members regardless without consideration as to whether their actions are correct or not.
And that is an issue this country faces which is a massive problem for our progression. Too many of us are focused on who did it rather than what they did and this decides their viewpoint and stance on the matter. It happens on both sides and is only going to get much worse, as this matter clearly shows, with some still back to the wall sticking up for this betrayal of trust. If we can't criticise and challenge regardless of affiliation, we are going to further damage this country.
The fact that our own government are acting in such a way is extremely worrying, especially now it has been exposed in truly dramatic fashion. This just screams that they feel that they are above the rest of us and can do as they please. If they don't, then why did Cummings disobey the Primer Minister's own words?
A whole team have put their reputations on the line and it has massively backfired on them. They should all be in question for their motives and actions as they have let the nation down massively. They've shifted the goalposts despite backlogs of statements going against what they are now trying to preach and act like was always the case. Not only have they surrendered any dignity they have, but they have also created a massive trust issue that may never be repaired for the rest of their tenures. This passionate defence of the indefensible could create a whole load of problems over the rest of the lockdown. As Cristina Nicolotti S (@skynewsgirl) described best on Twitter, this situation may have unlocked the lockdown.
Nicolotti sums it up perfectly within her tweet. There has been a severely poor demonstration of leadership these past few days and its came from the very top. If our Prime Minister wasn't "too busy", he'd probably have blindly echoed the words of fair play directly to us. Unless you're a part of their inner circle, it's do as they say, not as they do.
The Government seems intent on doing all they can in order to protect Cummings. It's worrying that they have shown more care to Cummings than they have any of our care homes or to the efforts to provide enough PPE for our brave health services. Simply, where was this fight in the early stages of the virus?
Regardless of this outcome, the likes of Dominic Cummings and Matt Hancock owe a massive apology to this grief-struck nation. They need to explain why people could not properly say goodbye to their loved ones if it is apparently fine to act in the way the Advisor has. People need to hold them accountable, put your allegiances aside and think about all those families who have selflessly suffered. Put yourself in their shoes and think about how horrible this betrayal would seem. We should be united in support of them and every single victim. If there's justice in the world, they will be held accountable.