The Prime Minister actually managed to turn up for work today and presented the daily British Government press conference. This is not unconnected to the fact that the only thing that anyone was wanting to hear from the British Government today was that Dominic Cummings had got his jotters for driving a coach and horses to Durham all the way through the lockdown regulations, and none of the spineless wonders in the British Conservative party are brave enough to stand up to Dominic. And neither, it has transpired, is the Prime Minister.
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson took to the podium to deliver the news that Dominic Cummings is going nowhere – except Durham. In the process he set a new UK record for the number of people shouting “Oh fuck off” simultaneously at the TV screen as he announced that Dominic Cummings had in his view acted entirely responsibly, legally, and with integrity. Although that last bit doesn’t really mean anything much as Boris Johnson is as far removed from an understanding of integrity as the Scottish Conservatives are from a reporter every time there’s bad news for their party.
This is a government without integrity, without honour, which is deserving of nothing but our contempt, our anger, and our disdain. What you sow, Boris Johnson, so shall you reap. Even someone who had access to the official Twitter account of the UK Civil Service was so angry with Johnson’s response that they tweeted “Arrogant and offensive. Can you imagine what it’s like to work with these truth twisters?” The tweet was quickly deleted. The person who sent that tweet will be investigated by the Civil Service and will be disciplined and quite possibly fired. That’s a damn sight worse than what the British Government will do to Dominic Cummings. The real crime here isn’t doing the crime, it’s being angry at the crime.
There was not even a hint of understanding that people who have abided by the rules deserve an apology. There was not even the faintest shadow of acceptance that Dominic Cummings’s actions were liable to produce a justified outrage. Instead what we got was almost a rebuke to those of us who have followed the rules, those of us who have told our mothers that no, we can’t come even to sit in the garden. We’re the ones in the wrong here, because we’re just little people with little lives who don’t count and who are not important. We’re the ones who are subjected to lectures in morality from a Conservative party that wouldn’t recognise morality if Dominic Cummings ran it over in his car on his way to a park in Castle Barnard.
Not only did Johnson fail to rebuke Cummings and fail even to accept that what he’d done looked bad even if in his view it was perfectly legal, he went out of his way to praise him. Dominic only did what every father’s instinct told him to, and for that he should not be judged because now we’re replacing following the rules with following your instinct. Except that is if you’re an ordinary punter whose instinct is to rush to the bedside of your dying relative. Except that is if you’re an ordinary person whose instinct tells you to give your mother a hug because she’s been stuck alone in lockdown and the isolation is getting her down. Except that is if you’re an ordinary person whose instinct tells you that your children need to see their grandparents. It’s only the instincts of senior members of the British Government that can be trusted. The rest of us need to tug our forelocks and do as we’re told by our betters.
This is the most extraordinary failure of a political leader’s judgement of the public mood since Herod slaughtered the firstborn. Even Prince Andrew’s press interview was more believable and displayed greater humility than this nonsense. In just a few short minutes Johnson managed to trash what little remained of any trust that the public had left in the British Government. This is a government that demands that members of the public can’t go to the bedsides of dying relatives, and who then can’t attend their funerals once they’ve died. This is a government that demands that we can’t hug, kiss, or embrace our nearest and dearest as people suffer unimaginable pain and loss. And people were prepared to do those things for the common good, for the greater good. Only to discover that a British Government which preaches that we’re all in this together practises an exceptional breaking of the rules when it suits its senior members. Dominic Cummings has now been given licence to do exactly what he pleases with the Tories’ 80 seat majority.
Meanwhile Jackson Carlot came out of his self-imposed social isolation from the press to release a carefully worded statement. It’s up to Boris, he said, now let’s get back to slagging off the SNP. Calling Jackson spineless is an insult to invertebrates. Once again, the Scottish Conservatives excuse the inexcusable because it’s a British inexcusable. Once again the Scottish Conservatives fail to stand up for Scotland within their so-called precious union. Once again the Scottish Conservatives show themselves up as the weak and obsequious cowards that they are. That’s their vision of Scotland within the UK. It sure as hell isn’t ours. The only question that Scotland has for the Scottish Conservatives is is there anyone left in the Scottish Conservatives who has even a tenuous grasp upon what’s right and what’s wrong? Because from the outside it’s looking like there isn’t.
There is now a very real danger that people will look at what Dominic Cummings has done and say – oh well, so it’s within the rules and it’s acting with integrity to drive 250 miles to go and stay with your parents. The already confused and incoherent messaging from the British Government about what people can and cannot do as we come out of lockdown got even more confused and even less coherent. All because Boris Johnson has put his own personal political interests before what’s right for the UK as a whole.
What we shouldn’t do is to react to the reckless and dangerous selfishness of Dominic Cummings by saying, well if he did it then we can do it too. Our anger is because he was wrong to do what he did. That’s what makes it a righteous anger. The fact that he’s being protected for his selfish rule breaking by a Prime Minister who is a by-word for selfishness and who has never in his life thought that the rules that apply to the rest of us should also apply to him does not give anyone else licence to behave like Dominic Cummings did. We are bigger people. We are better people. And soon we will be an independent people. The bright light of hope that guides us through the darkness of Conservative rule is burning brighter with our rage.
And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times… Here’s one for BlackRab
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