I have been contacted by a number of constituents who have shared their views on the decision of the Prime Minister’s advisor, Dominic Cummings to isolate his family in a building on his father’s farm in Durham. He believes he followed the guidance by making provisions to ensure his four-year-old child would have childcare if both he and his wife became incapacitated (the guidance did offer this as one of the exceptions allowable).
Those who have contacted me hold a mix of opinions, although there does seem to be a general agreement that Mr Cummings’ judgement on this has been poor and he didn’t consider how his choices would be perceived.
We are in the middle of the worst health and financial crisis this country has faced since the war. Unfortunately, the Dominic Cummings saga has become a distraction from the very urgent issues facing the country. We cannot allow crucial messaging and public understanding to be clouded by this, and for that reason I feel it is time Mr Cummings stood aside so that the government can dedicate all its resources to managing the pandemic and our way out of it.
This has been an unpleasant episode. The insistence that Cummings should resign has become an obsession and any balanced perspective on his actions has been impossible. The remarks of some are politically driven and show a nastiness that loses any semblance of an argument. Some of these same people, have forgotten their anger at the mainstream media for hounding Jeremy Corbyn when he was mired in the anti-Semitism allegations. They have forgotten the untrue Guardian front page claiming the police had talked to Dominic Cummings about breaking lockdown rules. Or even the Mirror’s follow up claim that Mr Cummings had driven to Durham for a second time, which was also untrue.
I believed it was only fair for an explanation to be given by Mr Cummings and we have now had that. Some people believe that my patience in waiting for the facts to emerge is the wrong thing to do and as such their anger is now directed at me. But I stand by what I said about children. Most parents would do whatever it takes to keep their children safe and in all the emails I have received on this subject just two people mention the Cummings’ son.
It seems sad that at times like this basic human decency goes out the window. Whether people like Mr Cummings or not, he has a wife and young family. How do we think they feel right now? A media scrum on their doorstep and constant online abuse. Not forgetting that they watched their four year old son being taken away in an ambulance with suspected Covid-19. I wonder why that went unmentioned by the media yesterday, perhaps because that would make Dominic Cummings the same as the rest of us: human.
There have been signs during this troubling period for our country that we can work together, that people do care and that people will go to extraordinary lengths to preserve our way of life, care for and protect others. Perhaps that should include a little bit of compassion for people like Mr Cummings and his family, who are not perfect, but who believe they are doing the right thing.
The government will continue working night and day to find the very best way to keep us all safe, ensure food supplies are not disrupted, ease restrictions as quickly as possible, protect the most vulnerable, save jobs and pay workers until they can go back to their jobs and normality. There have been huge sacrifices made by so many people and I don’t see us ever forgetting that. The lockdown cannot go on indefinitely but the government is doing all it can to reunite you with your friends and family as quickly and safely as possible.
With the assistance of my office team, I have helped thousands of constituents over the past nine weeks and I will continue to focus on this key part of my job. I hope you can understand my views on Dominic Cummings and that this concludes my discussion on the matter.