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Dominic Cummings. Source: Wikipedia

Dominic Cummings. Source: Wikipedia

The revelations about Boris Johnson’s chief adviser breaking lockdown rules should be the end of his career, writes Sean Ledwith

Dominic Cummings’ dark machinations and warped alt-right agenda have already made him one of the most hated figures in British politics. The recent revelation that he has flouted the government’s own guidelines on travel during the lockdown should be the final nail in his political coffin.

As Johnson’s principal political adviser, Cummings travelled the 260 miles from London to Durham at the end of March, after he and his wife had both contracted the virus. He claims the only feasible childcare for his four-year-old son was Cummings’ own parents in the North East.

Super spreader

Parents across the country marooned indoors for months with small children will have little sympathy for Cummings’ excuse, especially those in inner-city tower blocks who have little or no access to convenient and safe means of transport. Many will find it stretches credibility that a senior and powerful government figure was unable to find suitable childcare from somewhere in the corridors of power.

Government advice at the time was that only essential journeys should be made. It is unlikely the family made the journey without stops en route so the possibility they spread the virus at garages or service stations cannot be discounted.

It is also possible the car could have broken down and that would have put breakdown assistance workers in danger. When he departed the capital, it was the epicentre of the outbreak in the UK.

Reckless

Assuming the couple had the virus, such a long journey was not only reckless for their own health but would also have jeopardised the safety of their son. How could they know that one or both of them could even drive safely?

They also risked the health of Cummings’ own parents by coming into close contact with them. When asked by the media about his actions, Cummings responded with characteristic arrogance: ‘Who cares about good looks? It’s a question of doing the right thing. It’s not about what you guys think.’

Cummings’ hubris and hypocrisy can hardly be overstated. In a national emergency, the conduct of senior figures in government is supremely important as sending out the wrong message can have disastrous consequences for the public’s faith in the validity of the policy.

For this reason, Catherine Calderwood (Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer) and Neil Ferguson (from the government ‘s scientific advisory body) have both resigned during the lockdown for transgressions that were comparable to Cummings’ actions. The latter was hounded out by the right-wing press partly because they were out to get him for questioning the Cummings-inspired herd immunity strategy in mid-March. That is a factor in the UK having such a calamitous death toll.

Unwise

Durham’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Steve White, commented that it was most ‘unwise’ for Cummings to have made the journey. The SNP has rightly called for Johnson’s schemer-in-chief to be summarily dismissed.

Following the backlash against the premature opening of schools and the U-turn over a surcharge for overseas nurses, the government appears to be rallying around Cummings - at least for now.

Michael Gove tweeted support for his former underling at the Department of Education: Caring for your wife and child is not a crime. This from the man who last weekend tried to tell teachers it is safe to return to classrooms against the advice of the BMA.

On the ropes

Gove and the rest of Johnson’s criminally negligent gang now know they are on the ropes over their handling of this disaster. Currently they seem to be defending the indefensible because they know the political fall-out of his exit could be crippling to all them.

That is why it is essential for the rest of us to demand the sacking of Cummings - the first step to bringing down the rest of a government that is responsible for the worst peacetime disaster in modern British history.

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Sean Ledwith

Sean Ledwith

Sean Ledwith is a Counterfire member and Lecturer in History and Sociology at York College, where he is also UCU branch secretary. Sean is also a regular contributor to Marx and Philosophy Review of Books and Culture Matters

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