Princess Diana’s incredible interview with Martin Bashir went down in history as a major scandal exposure. Dominic Cummings evidence to a combined parliamentary committee enquiring into HMG’s handling of the Covid crisis should go down in the annals of British politics the same way. By that I mean, as confirmation of what we all knew or suspected already; but because it comes from the mouth of a central actor in the play, it feels like an earth shattering revelation.
Everyone knows that government handling of Covid was all over the place – and still is. But now we have insights into why, who and when.
I appreciated the way Dominic Cummings handled his answers. By that I mean, he gave an idea of the general thinking and influences at work at different times. That is of tremendous value. But his generalised and informed approach also gave rise to allegations of a very serious nature about principal actors as the Covid emergency unfolded in No Ten Downing Street. His allegations were no doubt informed, but they are also coloured by his attitude to the people concerned, and also by his own agenda and his own frustrations with democratic politics. At one point he said we needed a dictator in charge when national emergencies arise.
Before I come to my main assessment of Cummings himself and what he said, I must just say that the attitude of politicians and journalists participating and commenting on Cummings evidence betrayed the nature of those respective beasts.
The politicians were out to lay blame and the journalist saw just what they wanted to see, and commented accordingly. One of the worst reports I witnessed yesterday, was on the main evening news bulletin of the ultra PC Franco-German tv channel Arte.
Arte used the evidence exactly as I expected, ie to reinforce prejudices about both Brexit and about Cummings. Images broadcast along with the propagandic narrative included footage from a demonstration on Brexit in which a caricature figure of Cummings has a Union Jack flag in place of a moustache, as part of the portrayal of Cummings as Hitler. He is, of course, the wicked mastermind behind the Leave campaign which duped the British people on Brexit. This narrative continues to feed comment on whatever Cummings does.
So what did Cummings do in his 7+ hours of evidence to the UK parliamentary committee on Wednesday 26th May 2021 ?
As far as sensational content was concerned, we had serious allegations about certain senior figures, notably Boris Johnson as Prime Minister and Matt Hancock as Secretary of State for Health. Both men were identified by Cummings as patently unsuitable to hold the jobs they had; indeed he suggested criminal negligence.
In general terms, however, there are 3 factors to consider in approaching the testimony which Cummings gave yesterday to Parliament.
Firstly, professional. He is a facilitator for technical reform – indeed revolution – who has a strategic view and grasp of problems. This is clear from his blog going back years. It was also evident from his testimony yesterday to Parliament. He is a man intolerant of inefficiency and stupidity. Frankly, I’d agree with him reference the need for fundamental overhaul of the government machine. The Department of Health had no pandemic contingency plans in place, despite repeatedly telling their political masters that there was one.
Secondly, as a character. Cummings is a man of principle who comes from the North East of England. His sense of principle leads him to see things in very stark terms; he sees the reality of a situation and he has a realistic and capable grasp of how to solve the problems which he can see, but few others appreciate. And being from the North East he is keenly aware of the social needs of ordinary people and the vital importance of government as the mechanism to improve the lot of the people. He is, for example, a great champion of the NHS and it was no idle distortion for him to talk about that £350 million a week to the EU being diverted to the NHS. I suspect he meant it. That contentious figure was the actual average annual liability of the UK government to the EU – before considering what the EU chose to give back to the UK.
The way in which Cummings understood and used that EU budget contribution figure demonstrates that he is alive to the impact of information in the public consciousness. Which brings me to the third and vital factor informing yesterday’s appearance by Cummings. His Mea Culpa.
Cummings is acutely aware of how his explanation of his illness and his return to the North East in spring 2020 played out in the media, and how his subsequent enforced press conference in the Rose Garden at Ten Downing Street last summer was treated. Especially his refusal to apologise to the public on that occasion. Why should he – his wife and child were threatened by the mob …
Therefore yesterday he apologised profusely, and that mindset informed his entire approach and contribution.
And that is what was wrong with yesterday.
The politicians and the media will capitalise big time on his various assertions and revelations. They will therefore continue in their witch-hunt and in making the mistakes they persistently make. Which is to point the finger, and never examine themselves. Hypocrites !
Time and again Cummings spoke of false stories in the press. How much of the coverage by the media is now devoted to apologies and retractions of those false stories, and the persistent recirculation of such falsehoods ?
The truth doesn’t matter because it is all really a Machiavellian power game with an ideological agenda. Thou shalt not bear false witness was trashed long ago, and so the problems in the media persist. Bachir at the BBC getting the Diana interview and the subsequent BBC cover up speak volumes about our media. Don’t expect any true change any time soon.
But before I reach my main point about Cummings yesterday, let me say about my personal views of him.
While I appreciate his overall contribution and commitment to Brexit, I take serious issue with
- the way he used the gross figure in the Brexit publicity instead of the net contribution
- his commitment to AI which dehumanises human beings and makes us ever more dependent and therefore enslaved
- his manifest willingness to spend ever more public money on social matters
Therefore when I say what I am about to say it is not from partiality for Cummings.
Cummings was wrong to apologise yesterday. He did so in reaction to the Rose Garden speech and he did so out of a misplaced understanding of what government can and should do. Indeed his own evidence about trying to improve things militates against his assertion that he was culpable. He wasn’t – and I think it was disingenuous and possibly even arrogant to apologise.
Cummings has fallen for the fallacy to which everyone in politics now subscribes. The fallacy that the government is responsible for everything in this life. The fallacy that government can and should play at God. So, equally when anything goes wrong, it must be the government’s fault.
The political perspective and paradigm is now so Marxist, that getting a grip on reality is almost impossible. The idea of personal responsibility is now so under-rated and despised we are routinely treated to surreal scenarios by politicians and media. They live in their made-up world where they play at god with information and perception in order to promote themselves – and themselves as if they have all the right answers. They don’t. They are self deceived. And after nearly two centuries of government intervention to solve social problems in the UK, it is time to call a halt and correct the imbalance.
Do not misunderstand me. Government intervention in the 19th century and later became inevitable in a society where the vast mass of the population no longer lived on the land, but now worked and lived in towns. The former patriarchal, lord of the manor responsibility no longer applied and something had to be done to correct gross social injustice.
But now we have gone way too far. Way too far. It’s time to redress the balance, especially in the face of the unprecedented invasion of personal liberties when governments in the free world decided to lock the population down.
Cummings has imbibed this zeitgeist.
Where does blame lie, then ?
It was perfectly reasonable for Boris Johnson as Prime Minister to take the wider view and be preoccupied about the economy, and about our civil liberties too. It is this political and philosophical tension between intervention and non-intervention which explains the government’s presentation difficulties and policy changes over Covid 19. That tension is understandable and inevitable in the real world.
Personally I oppose government intervention to control the pandemic. Lockdowns have delayed the arrival of natural herd immunity; governments have totally overplayed the mortality threat of Covid 19 – it kills 1 to 3 %. of people infected. It does not kill 30% to 100% like medieval plague. It has only reduced the rate of world population increase, not removed it.
What Cummings did not even begin to discuss was just how bad this pandemic really was. He assumed that the absolute figures of deaths being recorded were terrible. Did he ever consider the actual death rate against the normal death rate before embarking on his crusade at No 10 ?
Cummings, the committee and the media all also failed to make any proper comparison with what other governments were doing.
In fact, the same worries and hesitations experienced within the British government were experienced by the French government. I have watched the news treatment here in France from before the beginning. I have no doubt that governments in general have been keenly exercised by how to respond to the pandemic. Expectations of perfection are not appropriate.
I simply do not believe that those who are so critical of government would have behaved any differently if they themselves had been in positions of responsibility.
Human beings are human. They are not rational robots into which you feed data which is then immediately processed to arrive at the optimum answer which is then systematically implemented regardless.
That said, there is indeed governmental culpability. The Chinese government
- covered up this disease and let it get out of control in Wuhan, persecuting the first doctor who tried to alert everyone – that doctor died of Covid
- failed to alert the world in time
- did not learn from its mistakes with previous outbreaks of Coronavirus earlier this century
- continues to refuse to let the world know whether this disease emerged from Wuhan market or from the Wuhan virology laboratories
Actual culpability in the British government lies with officials at the Department of Health. They maintained that there was a contingency plan in place for pandemics. They also maintained safeguards were in place for patients returning to care homes. They lied on both counts. The real culprits in British government are the dedicated bureaucrats managing the socialist NHS. By the way, the French civil service also failed the French government and people.
Apologies from Cummings are out of place. Radical correction of a blatantly negligent British Civil Service is the urgent need exposed yesterday.
Reference: the full 7 hours plus hearing of Cummings before the parliamentary committee is available at