The BBC are reporting that the police will take no retrospective action against Dominic Cummings. The worst they could find against him was not actionable
,“[We] have examined the circumstances surrounding the journey to Barnard Castle … and have concluded that there might have been a minor breach of the Regulations that would have warranted police intervention. Durham Constabulary view this as minor because there was no apparent breach of social distancing.”
The police didn’t consider the 520 mile round trip from Islington to Durham constituted an offence and the Barnard Castle excursion “minor ” because there was no apparent breach of social distancing rules during their visit.
The third accusation against Cummings – that he made the journey again some days later had no substantiation and was dismissed.
Let’s not call this a vindication for Dominic Cummings , but it is certainly not worthy the vilification he is generally receiving from large parts of the press and politicians of all parties.
So what has the Sunday Mirror and the Observer’s reporting achieved?
- A distraction from the matter in hand – getting R below 0.5 , PPE into every care home and the Britain united against COVID-19
- A loss of confidence in political authority.
- A lot of distress to a family living in Islington and Durham
- A reason for those who did not want to socially distance – not to socially distance.
What have the 40 Tory MPs and the minister who has resigned left to grind their teeth at? The answer is undoubtedly a sense of injustice that Cummings continues to wield more power than any the Conservative Party and probably more power than Sage or the Cabinet
But this is what the nation voted for, it is not what I voted for but I agreed when casting my vote to abide by political process and there is nothing within the political process that is different from what was happening from the moment Boris Johnson stepped through the door at 10 Downing Street
As Michelle Cracknell said at the beginning of the week, throwing Cummings out will achieve nothing. It will simply leave a vacuum to be filled by another Cummings, a baby Bismarck who probably won’t be as good. That will not stop Brexit – or Covid – or the recession. All these things are happening – whether you/me like it or not.
As it turns out, the attempt to get him thrown out has achieved a lot of ill-will and to no clear purpose.
Dominic Cummings – just another member of the public
No doubt Cummings will continue to be a lightning conductor to those of all persuasions who see him as a malign influence but to a large proportion of the country
He will be the butt of jokes but in the words of the Newcastle professor I saw on the TV he will be viewed by working class people as “another privileged man doing whatever he likes”. Cumming will not be loved ,he does not appear to crave admiration, but he won’t be hated.
Because most ordinary people don’t give a damn about Cummings or what he did. They want to know how to quote again the Newcastle prof “how they will pay the rent”, They don’t care how the Westminster village squabbles. The Durham police seem to take the same view. Their press release laconically observes
“Had a Durham Constabulary police officer stopped Mr Cummings driving to or from Barnard Castle, the officer would have spoken to him, and, having established the facts, likely advised Mr Cummings to return to the address in Durham, providing advice on the dangers of travelling during the pandemic crisis.
“Had this advice been accepted by Mr Cummings, no enforcement action would have been taken.”
The force said it would not be taking retrospective action against Mr Cummings since this would amount to
“treating Mr Cummings differently from other members of the public.”
No different – no scapegoat
Scapegoating Cummings or Johnson , gets us nowhere. We are a few months in to a five year political term. We are a couple of months into a vicious pandemic in which Britain has the highest density of excess deaths in the world.
It is time we focussed on how to get through this and out of it, and stop looking for a smoking gun and the author of all this trouble.