Last Saturday I wondered if it was worth covering the Cummings story because it looked like a Westminster Bubble/process story that political nerds like me enjoy but ‘real voters’ never really take any notice of!
Well I got that one wrong. What a week.
But as I write today Cummings in still in post and the government is unlocking the country against its own advice and tests it set itself. That’s the real story. Death rates are not at a level that warrant the opening up of the country.
The Cummings story cut through because there is a sense of fair play value amongst the public. If Cummings had even shown a little remorse or contrition in the extraordinary Rose Garden press conference we may have been able to move on. But instead he spent an hour confirming all the stories No10 claimed were untrue were in fact right and the concocted the ludicrous tale about testing his eyesight by driving 60 miles on his wife’s birthday to a Beauty spot with his child in the car. It was at this point I realised he was just playing the media and us for fools. It’s all a game to him. And the worst bit is it looks like Johnson needs him so badly he may just survive. I always think after 7 days the story has to lose its legs. Cummings holds everything in the world in contempt so he won’t care.
My LandRover App
One thing I have not understood or seen raised during this story is my theory on the LandRover APP. I have a similar car to Cummings – the Discovery. It comes with an App that allows me to see everything I need to know about the car and every journey I take. I can tell you where my car was and what journeys it took on the days that Cummings was taking about for example. It even tells you your fuel performance on the trip. For a data guy I can’t believe he doesn’t have access to this data from his car. So to claim he didn’t know if he stopped for petrol is nonsense. The app will show where the car stopped and for how long. It was another lie surely? I can also conform that there is no way I could get 500 miles out of the car on a single tank.
The impact has been real though. Polling throughout the week has shown the public have been really angry. And I mean genuine anger. Thousands of people who have endured genuine hardship and sacrificed funerals or contact with loved ones feel cheated by his arrogance and attitude. But that has cut through to Johnson and the Government ratings. Just wait for those number to get worse as the full facts about their incompetence leading to one of the highest death tolls in the world comes to light. Add onto all of this 3m unemployment figures and believe it or not – BREXIT still to come and the next 12 months look grim for the Johnson.
He was unsuited to being PM despite his lifelong ambition for the role. We are all paying the price for his ineptitude and the more conspiratorial stuff that Cummings and his friends are up to behind the scenes.
There is a good long read in the New Statesman on him. I have been sort of looking into him a bit more deeply than I would like for the Teaching I do at Cranfield Business School – helping senior civil servants on working with MPs and Ministers. When he took over I had to rewrite sections of my presentation. It is still a work in progress.
I think Starmer has done the right thing and allowing the Tory backbench to lead the revolt. It’s far more powerful than an opposition calling for a resignation.
I fear for the future more than I have done since the 1980s. Not for me but for the next generation as my children wonder if they will be at University or find a job after graduation this summer.
As I throw myself into the local roles on the LLEP and Loughborough Town deal for example, the figures and statistics of the impact make stark reading. To be fair the government interventions have helped stave off something that could have been even worse.
Only 5 months ago I was working with clients advising how to work against the backdrop of a stable Tory government with an 80 seat majority. I am rapidly looking at a different scenario when things return to some form of political reality and I do feel Starmer has put Labour back in the game by playing a steady and sensible hand throughout this period. The polling figures look solid enough if not exciting. But with 4 years to go I would prefer to see a long game being played at this stage!
I will return to the poor performance of the government. Yes it’s a difficult time and there are difficult decision to be made. But ideologically they have made choices over the economy v lockdown on which they will have to be judged on in due course.
Let’s see if Cummings in still in post this time next week – and what stories will have been lost/ hidden by the farce.