Much has been said in recent days about Dominic Cummings and whether or not he has broken the lockdown rules. You just need to look at Twitter to see the raging debate – in the main people are saying he has broken the rules, but of course not everyone has that view.
We know that Dominic and his wife (more of her later) both left their London home to go to Durham because they were displaying Covid-19 symptoms and they were worried about the welfare of their 4-year old son. Who would look after him if they were incapacitated? This is a reasonable question for any parent to ask themselves – if I can’t look after my children who will? We all have choices – friends, family or the state are probably the only options.
Like the rest of us, Dominic Cummings and his wife had choices. They could drive 260 miles to his parents’ home and stay on a cottage within their grounds or stay at his London home in Islington. They chose the former despite his wife having family living in Islington. They chose to drive to Durham knowing they both had Covid-19 symptoms, putting not only his elderly parents and other members of his family at risk, but also the general public who he might encounter on his road trip. I cannot imagine that his son made it all the way to Durham without a toilet stop – if he did then he’s got pretty remarkable bladder control.
During his time away he also managed to fit in a day trip to Barnard Castle to celebrate his wife’s 45th birthday, and some walks in the local woods. The former being justified via eyesight testing and the latter denied altogether.
However, and this is where we come to the crux of the matter, did he break the rules or not?
On Monday 23 March 2020 Boris Johnson asked the public to stay at home and said that the police would have powers to issue fines to those who left home without a “reasonable excuse”. It is this term ”reasonable excuse” that is at the heart of the debate.
What was meant by “reasonable excuse”?
The regulations do not comprehensively define the term “reasonable excuse”, instead they give a non-exhaustive list of reasonable excuses to leave your home. The list differs between the four home nations, and has been updated to add more reasonable excuses, but importantly the update was made after the period of time under scrutiny.
The main reasonable excuses in England at that time included:
Work - if you are a key worker
Shopping for essential items for yourself or a friend or neighbour in your locale
Exercise in the vicinity of your home
Going to the vet for essential emergency treatment
To avoid injury
Providing support to vulnerable people
It is this last “reasonable excuse” that Dominic Cummings is using to justify his actions. The wording is vague and according to parliamentary commentators was intended for situations of domestic violence or child abuse, but Dominic has effectively used it as the excuse for being able to legitimately travel to his parents’ home in Durham – his 4-year old child was vulnerable with both parents ill.
Boris Johnson says that Dominic Cummings “acted with integrity”.
Dominic Cummings says he wanted to "clear up confusion and misunderstandings" over his actions during lockdown and that he acted “reasonably” and within the law. He said he “didn’t regret his actions”.
This is where I get to with it all. The government guidance all along has been unclear and woolly. It is because of this that Dominic Cummings has been able to exploit loopholes to suit his circumstances and needs.
For me the question is more about “selfishness”. Was Dominic Cummings selfish in his actions?
Undoubtedly, I believe he was selfish.
He appears to me to be a man lacking any moral compass, out to get what is best for him and to heck with anyone who gets in his way – including the prime minister. He is an intelligent man who knows that the lockdown rules were correct and in fact he was central to shaping them. But he also feels that somehow, he is better than the common man, with different needs, allowed to shape the rules to suit his circumstances. Special, I guess.
But what about Boris?
He nearly died with Covid-19. He has had first-hand experience of the suffering of other people with the Covid-19 or with loved ones with Covid-19, and the exhausting work being carried out by our medical professionals. Surely Boris can see that there is a time to say enough, what you have done is selfish and lacking morality. Time for you to go because your actions now risk undermining everything, pushing us quicker into a second wave.
No, it would appear that Boris is backing his man. And why would he do that?
Maybe he needs Dominic Cummings to actually deliver the day job of being prime minister because he himself isn’t fit for purpose. He lacks the depth, the intellect and the patience to carry out the daily workings of his position like a true statesman would.
Or perhaps, the twitter rumour mill is true and Mary Wakefield, Dominic Cummings wife, does indeed have phone camera footage of Boris behaving in a sexually inappropriate manner when he worked with her at The Spectator.
If it is the latter, then heaven help us all, we are truly at the hands of someone who lacks integrity, is selfish for his own gain, enjoying the power of his position and hold, stopping at nothing to get his own way.
I am thinking Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Let’s hope James Bond gets his act together and comes to save the day.