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Cummings Just Told Us Everything We Already Knew

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I’m not buying your sorrow, Dominic. In fact, your humility has arrived far too late for me to consider sympathising with your blubbering confessions. “I’m not smart”, yes, we already knew that bit. I’m aware of my cruelty in writing here, but somehow Cummings’ complacency in the 128,000+ recorded UK Covid deaths since last March is just a little crueller. 

For those too despondent to keep up with the Tory headlines, let me get you up to scratch. Last Thursday (27.05.21), Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s former chief adviser, spoke for over six hours to two parliamentary committees. In his testimony, Cummings shed light onto the utterly inadequate handling of the pandemic at the hands of the Tory government, criticising former colleagues such as Hancock and Sedwill, confirming Johnson’s willingness to “let the bodies pile high”, and condemning his own level of responsibility and conduct. On a surface level, Cummings objectively did the right thing in holding the government to account. The problem? He’s over a year late, and was on the side that let “tens of thousands of people die who didn’t need to die” for far too long.

Discussing his role with the committee, Cummings accounted: “It is crazy I should have been in such a senior position, I’m not smart”. Right. Let me get this straight. Cummings was aware of how out of depth he was as chief advisor. He understood that the job was out of his reach. How did he respond to this? Well, by accepting the position, of course! And yes, I’m aware that Cummings did leave Number 10 in November 2020, but the damage had already been done. It seems ludicrous for Cummings to be criticising Johnson’s initial response in which the prime minister dismissed Covid-19 as “a scare story” and “the new swine flu” when he was his chief advisor. It is no good crying wolf after the wolf has already eaten your grandma.

On a similar note, Cummings’ claims on his conduct, “I wish I’d never heard of Barnard Castle. I wish I’d never gone and the whole nightmare never happened”, seem oddly misplaced. Don’t get me wrong, I’m appreciative of an apology, even a half-hearted, Tory attempt at one, but who is he fooling? You can’t tell us that you needed, so desperately, to test your eyesight on a trip with your potentially Covid-infected wife, and then beg for our remorse half a year on after we see through your blatant misconduct. The utter juxtaposition of Cummings’ statements acts as good evidence for Cummings’ performative apology. After the Barnard Castle visit, Cummings stated “I don’t regret what I did…The situation I was in was exceptional circumstances. I think I behaved reasonably”. This doesn’t really add up with Cummings’ present outlook on the scandal, in which he told the committee he was “extremely sorry” for his actions surrounding the trip. 

It is worth noting that many others have been whistleblowing for over a year. Teachers, healthcare workers, cleaners, those in retail, and carers have been begging the government for a change in their approach to the pandemic. They too have been criticising approaches to border control, herd immunity, and the slow responses of the government in response to outbreaks. The difference here is that their voices were never fully amplified by the UK’s broadsheets. Moreover, their voices were never respected by our present government, who have never, and most likely will never, experience the financial, and health-related fears of these people. One can hope that Cummings’ testimonial will act as the opposition so desperately required following Starmer’s terrible challenging of the government, but I’m not holding my breath.