On Friday 23rd May, the Daily Mirror and the Guardian published a story regarding the movements of Dominic Cummings, the Chief Adviser to the Prime Minister, during the lockdown period. The media made several allegations which understandably caused an outcry for his resignation. Some of the allegations it now seems, have been either false or misleading. Having said that, others were not and warranted a full explanation of the facts. I have expressed, in clear terms, the opinions of my constituents to the Prime Minister and to Number 10.
Dominic Cummings is a person who elicits strong feelings in the political and media bubble world. For some, he is campaigning genius, the architect of the Brexit campaign, to others a pantomime villain who has wreaked havoc upon their world.
I was initially quite angered about the allegations and his reported conduct and I understand the justifiable anger that some people are feeling, especially as so many have sacrificed so much up until this point. However, I believe strongly that there should be no trial by the media, and that Mr Cummings should have the opportunity to account for his actions and the Prime Minister should explain why he believes keeping Mr Cummings on is the correct course of action. (Mr Cummings did this on Monday with a detailed statement and a full question and answer session from the journalists present. You can read in full his explanation here https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/dominic-cummings-why-i-travelled-to…. The Prime Minister appeared before the Liaison Committee of the House of Commons and spoke about this matter yesterday.)
If Mr Cummings had taken the decision to blatantly disregard the law of the land, which the statement from Durham Police does not suggest, then it would have been right that he resigned or was let go from his position. After listening to his account, I do not think that is the case and I am also less convinced of the argument about breaking the spirit of the law. I felt he made overall a fair and reasonable case, given the challenging circumstances relating to his son, and I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt in this instance. Not everyone will agree with me on this, but it is up to each and every one to draw their own conclusions.
Ever since Coronavirus arrived on our shores there has been hardship, suffering and sacrifice. It has been the most disruptive time to all our lives since the Second World War. People have had to make difficult decisions and have had a lot to worry about. I have not been someone who has sought to finger point or 'shame' anyone who has been faced with hard, confusing and sometimes very pressured situations, especially of a family nature. Decisions we have made in these unprecedented times can so often lead to anger at the different decisions of others. Sometimes this is wholly justified, sometimes less so, but even then, it remains understandable.
Thankfully, the number of deaths from this terrible pandemic is falling rapidly and there is the strong prospect of us building on the relaxations already announced into a greater degree of normality. Shops will open on 15th June and there will be more news on the loosening of guidance about meeting loved ones, Church services and holidays is expected.
In some respects, there will be just as mighty a battle to repair and save our economy as we did to battle this disease. This is our next big set of challenges for which there is no clear roadmap.