Cummings and Goings – Why does it Matter?

This weekend it’s now almost impossible to avoid talk of Dominic Cummings.

Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

On Saturday morning with the Dominic Cummins story first breaking I thought I’d leave it alone as it seemed as though it may be just a bit of a process or Westminster bubble issue therefore not important in marginal swing voters in seats like Loughborough.

I know my own social media had gone crazy on Saturday, but I understand the size and scale of my own echo chamber and whilst the anger was palpable I wonder if it was still limited.

At that stage I started to look a little wider and would normally talk to people outside of my bubble. But with locked down this is increasingly difficult. I tried asking a few people that I know who aren’t political and all these sources helped me sense that something was different about this story.

By Sunday evening when the Prime Minister was at the Downing St press conference there was already a lot of momentum for him to take some action or even sack Dominic Cummings. But his performance was one of the worst piece of arrogance I witnessed by 30 years of politics. No hint of humidity or contrition. We sat at home and found ourselves shouting at the Downing Street ‘press conference’ Boris hides from week to wek and we can see why. He has been found out. AT PMQs he looks and sounds terrible and even in this format he looks lost and broken.

As usual there have been some fantastic articles detailing where, when , who and what happened but also some fantastic language in some of the links below from some of the better sketchwriters , so i won’t  to try to emulate or beat them at their game. Just read and enjoy the likes of John Crace!

Stephen Bush

Marting Kettle – By Backing Cummings, Johnson has laid bare his disdain for the British Public

John Crace – No dignity, no future: Boris forsakes leadership to protect Cummings

it does seem what this boils down to  two things. First, Cummins is a senior advisor to a government that has asked the country to lockdown and many people have followed for the letter and spirit of the law and regulations. He then clearly felt that these rules and las don’t apply to him. That part is bad enough and the excuse of looking after children doesn’t wash with literally hundreds of thousands of people who had to sacrifice family times, funerals, illnesses, birthdays etc over this last period. People have made sacrifices to follow these rules as social media and the news is highlighted over the last 24 hours. These people are angry.

However, it’s the second charge that makes this politically damaging. Cummings has traded on and elite versus the people as his trademark. He has natural contempt for the civil service the politicians for the media Europe and somehow he is manipulated these into general contempt for what is now known become as the elite (in my day this wasn’t the elite it was the Etonians that he’s looking after that were the elite!).

The problem is his contempt is universal. I think he probably has contempt for everybody, but Dominic Cummings and this episode has shone a sharp  light on his arrogance. We know he despises nearly everybody he has to work for. When this is seen as genius it is sometimes forgiven. Both him and Johnson have built up characters of themselves. The ‘Classic Dom’ or the Boris ‘Clown’.  I found myself even getting wound up by the way he was wafting away journalists outside his house with his notebook in the most contemptuous way it is possible to do.

When you see some of the newspaper headlines today even some of the most Tory Boris fan club media seem to have abandoned him. It’s always been the case that when the advisor becomes the story it’s time to go. For some time the  ‘Classic Dom’ line has enabled No10  to shrug off worst his worst traits which are portrayed as just slightly eccentric not dangerous. I’d put him in the dangerous bracket.

So it’s Bank Holiday Monday And I have no idea where this story will go over the next few days as it seems certain it will rumble on. The question inside the Downing St bunker is whether to ride it out for a week let’s see if they can survive and then assess whether there any long term damage to the reputation of the government . I believe there is. It has changed the mood towards the government.

Or second they decide it’s too damaging and Cummings off as quickly as it can before even more damage is done  Given the Prime Minister and the cabinet have been spineless and rushed to his defence it would have to come as a resignation from Cummings admitting his failure and not wishing to do any further damage to the government or to Johnson. He doesn’t appear to be the sort of person who would do the honourable thing – but it may be forced upon him.  But who is strong enough to force Cummings to do anything? Everybody in the Government owes their positions to him! He has weak people in place deliberately

I’d really be interested to gauge the level of anger felt by those who want as political with myself under my echo chamber on social media. And what I’ve seen the anger has gone wider and deeper than I first envisaged on Saturday morning, so this could be really quite deeply damaging to the government.

The original reason for not wanting to blog about this process story was the fact that The Sunday Times was also going to cover a long history of why they believe there have  been excess numbers of deaths in the UK because of the mishandling of the crisis early on in March by the government and for me this seems a much more important issue!. But if you look at polling it appears that the public generally seemed to have some trust in the handling of the crisis by the government. (although weekly it is slipping way)

 Again this has been a difficult line to tread for the opposition And I found my pet myself personally having massive misgivings about the handling of the crisis but not being able to be seen to be two parties at all political in the way of expressing this , despite it falls being the most political event after Brexit of my lifetime.

Moving reasonably quickly I feel this blog might need a postscript or update on a daily basis until something gives. As I say other Cummings goes or the Storey moves on and we try to assess how deeply damaged Johnson and his government are. Whilst mostly anger is rightly pointed at Cummings I have noticed since the Downing St press conference yesterday but the woeful performance of Johnson hasn’t gone unnoticed and not just by the electric but by a number of his own Tory MPs who started to break rank last night. They say a week is a long time in politics let’s try and guess where we are this time next Monday. When the hated Daily Mail turns on the Tories you know there is trouble!

(dictated Monday 25th 9.30am)

2 Replies to “Cummings and Goings – Why does it Matter?”

  1. Actually, as someone who brought up 3 children without close family near by (thank goodness for wonderful babysitters) I sort of understand what he did. However he knew the difference between law/instructions/ advice which was never made clear in daily briefings. The news was full of police chiefs video shaming dog walkers and stories of people who hoped to see out the” stay home “period in their holiday home, sent back to crowded conurbations. So Joe Public gets the message and stays home. I don’t think “missing significant birthday parties” is in the same league but I would argue that somehow 13 year olds should not have to die without a parent by their side and there will be other such examples. Most relevant though is all those other families with small children where a parent is ill and the other is quite likely to succumb as well. I wonder how many there have been. The Cummings family is neither alone nor exceptional in experiencing this. Perhaps if he had returned, told people what he found he had to do and decided to issue helpful guidance for everyone, he would not be in this mess now.

  2. This behaviour is typical of the populist right, they just ignore convention. Examples are Johnson not being interviewed in the run up to the election and Trump not revealing his tax returns.

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