A very difficult position for the Government and our whole Nation


I find writing about the Dominic Cummings situation as difficult as I did about writing about Neil Ferguson’s situation. Both men have worked very hard to try to communicate with our Nation about COVID-19 along with many of their colleagues and whatever their decisions, they are human beings who like all of us can make mistakes. However both of them clearly made decisions which opposed the statements and proposals that their own teams had formed for us all to respond to. What seems much more concerning however was that some MPs and Ministers were in favour of the resignation of Neil Ferguson and indeed at least one of publicly called for the Police to investigate what happened. Yet a large number of Ministers and MPs including some of those who were critical of Ferguson appear to have overlooked the very clear guidance that Cummings helped to form and are instead claiming his decisions were wise and appropriate even though he ignored his own powerful guidance. Both men worked for us and were appointed by the same political party even though one was a professional medical investigator and the other was a Special Adviser for the leader of the Party. Clearly the Party Members could remain quiet about the actions of Cummings but if he does not resign or is not removed from his role very quickly, any future advice presented to us by the Government will be viewed with far more scepticism than may have happened previously, particularly if it relates to how we should act within our communities. Equally if he does resign or is sacked, the words expressed below by the politicians will look very inappropriate and so their future decisions will look very questionable. So just to clarify here are two elements of the instructions promoted by the Government and developed by both Cummings and Ferguson:

If too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to cope. This will cost lives. We must slow the spread of the disease, and reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment in order to save as many lives as possible. That is why we are giving one simple instruction – you must stay at home. You should not meet friends or relatives who do not live in your home. You may only leave your home for very limited purposes, such as buying food and medicine, excercising once a day and seeking medical attention. You can travel to and from work but you should work at home if you can.

Letter from Boris Johnson to all residents

If you or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus: do not leave your home for any reason – if you need food or medicine, order it online or by phone, or ask someone to deliver it to your home; do not have visitors to your home – including friends and family; do any excercise at home – you can use your garden, if you have one.

guidance published by the NHS

Clearly these two very strong requirements set out by agencies that Dominic Cummings is involved with, were directed to the whole of our nation for all people to pay attention to, irrespective of how significant they are to the decision making process. However the closer to the decision making a person is, the higher the standards we might expect from them. It became clear in the information that has been forced out of the Durham Police over the last 48 hours, that Dominic’s Father contacted them to ensure that Dominic and his wife and child would get protection from their Police force which raises all sorts of additional concerns. Inevitably the Metropolitan Police would have normally protected his home, just as all senior members of the Government do get protected. However outside of this extra element the way in which other COVID impacted people have experienced the challenge from the Government as they tried to care for their children can be well understood from a tweet by a lady called Jenni Regan who pointed out “I had COVID and my husband collapsed at home and fell down the stairs. After he had been operated on and was home we had to attempt to look after our 6 year old. Both from bed. Would have loved to call on help from family and friends then but we knew we couldn’t” It is clear that she is not alone in this and such a radical approach by Dominic is very damaging and it is clear that the following statements will either damage our nation more or damage the authors in terms of how their credibility will be seen by many of us or potentially both damages will take place.

I know how ill coronavirus makes you. It was entirely right for Dom Cummings to find childcare for his toddler, when both he and his wife were getting ill.

Matthew Hancock, Health Minister

It’s reasonable and fair to ask for an explanation on this. And it has been provided: two parents with Coronavirus, were anxiously taking care of their young child. Those now seeking to politicise it should now take a long hard look in the mirror.

Dominic Raab, Deputy Leader of Government

Taking Care of your wife and young child is justifiable and reasonable, trying to score political points over it isn’t

Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer

Caring for your wife and child is not a crime

Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (retweeted by Nick Gibb)

Caring for your child is obviously reasonable. Surely any parent of a three year old would want to ensure they are safe at all times. Politically motivated attacks on a good father are discreditable.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, Leader of the House of Commons

Protecting one’s family is what any parent good parent does. The @10Downingstreet statement clarifies the situation and it is wholly inapprorpriate to politicise it.

Suella Braverman, Attorney General

Dom Cummings followed the guidelines and looked after his family. End of story.

Oliver Dowden, Cabinet Office Minister

The opposition should stop hounding Dominic Cummings. How would they have ensured children were looked after if both parents became seriously ill?

John Redwood MP for Wokingham

Ill couple drive 260+ miles to ensure that their small child can be looked after properly. In some quarters this is regarded as crime of the century. Is this really the kind of country we are?

Robert Halfon MP for Harlow

Dom and Mary’s journey was necessary and therefore within rules. What’s also necessary is not attacking a man and his family for decisions taken at a time of great stress and worry, the fear of death and concern for a child. This isn’t a story for the normal political shitkickery

Danny Kruger MP for Devizes

I don’t know any detail other than this, but it seems like a perfectly reasonable explanation on the face of it. I’m sure more will follow over the coming days, but for now it looks like a bit of a non-event

Rob Roberts MP for Delyn

Completely right @DominicRaab Another media ‘non-story’ when there are so many important ‘real’ stories of this crisis and the important recovery to come that need our focus.

Andrew Griffith MP, Arundel and South Downs

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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