We all know the story.
On the 27th of March, Dominic Cummings, the Chief Adviser to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, drove 260 miles to County Durham during the height of lockdown. He did so with his wife, Mary Wakefield, and their four year old son out of fear that, after Mrs Wakefield fell temporarily ill earlier that day, if they were both to become incapacitated through illness, their son would not receive the care needed.
The details of the story have been reported in great detail and there is enough information available for the public to make their own, well-informed view.
Cummings did not accept that he did anything wrong and did not offer any form of apology for his actions. A view shared by the British government, with minster after minister trotted out to commit public perjury in an attempt to defend or excuse a political aide.
The issue, however, is not whether Cummings acted reasonably or whether he followed his paternal instincts. The issue is whether he broke the rules. He did. And his excuses and explanations are what make this episode so rage-inducing.
By using the excuse that he was acting reasonably and merely following his instincts, Dominic Cummings is insulting us. Members of the British public who wanted to change their locations, get help from elsewhere or alter their circumstances in any other way to make their lives easier during this torrid time opted not to, despite those measures being reasonable and instinctual.
They opted not to because they wanted to respect the rules, rules that the government and Cummings himself formulated and emphasised to us that we all must abide by. Matt Hancock, Secretary of State of Health, said in early April - whilst Cummings was in Durham - that if people did not follow the rules, 'people will die'. Heeding this, people opted not to follow the parental or familial instincts that have doubtlessly been burning in so many concerned parents, children, and family members.
The implication in this excuse is that the British public who did not take such measures for the sake of helping or protecting their family were either 1. Not reasonable, 2. They did not follow their instincts, 3. They did follow their instincts but their instincts were wrong, or 4. They were just plain moronic for not understanding the rules.
Well, no. That is not the case and it is unacceptable as an excuse. It is personally and intellectually insulting to every single member of the public who followed the rules and in so doing made sacrifices that they did not want to make.
It is this that makes the whole episode so morally, intellectually and politically reprehensible. People break the rules. People have lapses in their judgements. Often with the best intentions at heart, but people are fallible. Equally, just because one breaks the rules does not make one a bad person. What is characteristic of a decent, honest individual is that when they make a mistake, whether it was out of fear for their partner's well-being or fear for the quality of care for their child, they acknowledge their mistake, apologise, and accept the consequences.
Not Dominic Cummings. He knows he broke the rules. The governments knows he broke the rules. The British public knows he broke the rules. His inability to acknowledge and accept such facts is insulting in itself. What makes it worse is that he excuses himself by saying he acted reasonably and instinctually, committing a level of intellectual fraud and moral spinelessness on an industrial scale. He is overtly peddling nonsense to the public and committing one of the most blatant displays of hypocrisy in modern British political history.
This insult is what makes angers people. Being taken for idiots. Treated like idiots.
I only hope the British people remember this insult and remember this anger when the time comes to head to the ballot box.
Author: Nathan Irwin