On a day when very little of what was said carried much authenticity, I heard a lady from Newcastle University say something that seemed real to me.
Speaking on the BBC evening news following the interrogation of Dominic Cummings in the Rose Garden, she explained that most working class people she knew didn’t find a rich elite British male doing what he liked the slightest surprising – or even interesting, their thoughts were elsewhere. She explained they were concerned with how they would make ends meet over the next few months,
To suppose that we are all in it together is absurd, as she went on to say 99% of people in the north east don’t have the choices Dominic Cummings had – to them he was quite simply -irrelevent
Cummings matters to the liberal elite – because he represents us.
Listen to the people who are howling against Cummings and what you are hearing are people who have also had his choices and chosen not to take them. The stench of entitlement is overwhelming as we hear of the sacrifices we made to the general good.
But by and large our suffering has been minimal , by and large we are raging against the opportunity that we turned down and Cummings grasped, the loophole we missed. And in likening ourselves to Cummings, we elevate ourselves to his level of public service. Cummings wasn’t broadcasting from Downing Street’s Rose Garden for nothing, he is doing more than what we do – he is running the country.
No matter how much better blaming Cummings makes us feel, sacking him is not going to help people pay the rent.
As Michelle Cracknell put it on Linked in
“Love him or hate him, the last thing all of us need is for Dominic Cummings to go. We need to focus on the things that matter (testing, PPE, moving out of lockdown) rather than what DC did or did not do”.
Michelle was agreeing with this statement
Cummings is a vital cog in the strategy to defeat Covid. Not some clown driving across the country to buy a puppy.
How this reflects on us?
Dominic Cummings has still not been tested for Coronavirus, he does not appear to have been treated as part of “Government” at all. He was juggling his job and duty to Johnson and the country against personal fear for his health and the health of his wife, child and wider family and he was seen running accross Downing Street in what looked like panic to the press.
We now know that Cummings was not running away in fright, he was running to his wife who had symptoms of COVID-19. The images we have of Cummings are of a man isolated and pursued by cameras, he is also a husband and father.
Yesterday we saw a man give a press conference who was nervous. Never once did he play to the camera or the press. He did not impress as a politician would have impressed. He didn’t impress at all.
Frankly it does not matter much how many times he stopped to fill up for petrol, how long he was outside at Barnard Castle or whether he dialled 999 or 111. The Guardian and the Sunday Mirror can go on with their forensic investigation , un-turn rocks and keep this story alive for another week, but this isn’t going to help us move out of lockdown or pay the rent.
We watched Cummings hoping for drama, we got the opposite. I was left asking why I was watching and feeling decidedly queasy. In wanting drama I realised I was complicit with the press. Their prurience was my prurience. I wanted to wash my hands.
Far from being damaged goods, Cummings is now centre-stage and a full-on anti-hero for anyone chippy enough to challenge liberal sentimentality. And having listened to the endless tales of self-sacrifice by those in lock-down I am now immune to that sentimentality.
What is becoming damaged goods is the line of press lined up to throw stones at Cummings. To them I add those who compare their tale of hardship to that of Cummings. Whatever we are going through is our cross to bear, we cannot tie Cummings to it.
It is not unusual for members of the elite to become working class icons. Churchill did it, Farage did it (a little bit) and Cummings has got all the makings of doing it himself. Nervous as he was yesterday, he managed to last 90 minutes without losing control and unimpressive as his delivery was, he came accross as considered and deeply serious.
Cummings has no Checkers or Sandringham , he did have his family home and it appears that became so attractive he recklessly drove himself and his family there, against all Government advice. Like the Newcastle University professor , I don’t find this in the slightest bit surprising, I don’t find it news. He did what he could with the hand he held and his bets paid off.
No apologies – no regrets
The press are angry that Cummings stays “elite”, They want him to apologise and show regret. Based on achieved outcomes Cummings has nothing to regret, he is back safe and so his family. As for apologies, he refuses to apologise for taking responsibility as he does.
And for so long as the media continue to lay into Cummings, the more he will divide the nation. He clearly isn’t going to stand down and the best that we can do is climb down from our high horses. He is Johnson’s Bismarck, he makes the rules and I am glad that he stood firm yesterday. I do not want another resignation , another failed Government and yet more disruption .
It is our job to repair not damage goods. Like Michelle says.