Updated: Jun 1, 2020
This was a show trial, not a press conference
At the close of today’s press conference, the facts are now clear. Having been accused of visiting twice or three times to Durham, it is now clear that these eye witness reports, carried by the media, were false. Dominic Cummings drove without pause from London to Durham to isolate, and did so acting on his own judgement with a view to the interests of his child, and of security concerns around his London home. These security concerns have been proved worth considering these past few days, as journalists have formed scrums, campaign groups have parked vans outside his front door, and activists have harassed him in the street.
The rumour mill which surrounds Mr. Cummings has been growing increasingly vociferous since he played a key role in winning the EU referendum for the Leavers. It’s reached its peak since his ascension to the PM’s Chief of Staff, as many media elements portray him as some kind of latter-day Rasputin. He does himself no favours: he hasn’t tried to make friends, his appearance is antisocial, and he’s been himself waging a war on the media for some time. However now the media has smelt blood they have taken their revenge. But this is not the role of the media. The role of the media is not to headline every article with a picture of Dominic Cummings making a screwed-up face, which they tend to do. Is not to print every unsourced, unevidenced quotation, as was seen with the ‘Herd Immunity’ scandal that never was. And it is not to run Bolshevik style show trials in the way we have seen today.
Yesterday the government announced billions of pounds of transport infrastructure. Much of it aimed at restoring lines done away with by the Beeching cuts. Schools remain due to open on the 1st of June, a contentious issue and one which parents, students and teachers will look to the media for guidance on. We are currently seeing a wind down of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, information which is integral to public health. However, the media, keen for their scalp have launched an all-out war against Dominic Cummings to remove him from his position. They are refusing to report on government announcements because a government adviser took a short walk in a private wood.
There is little doubt in my mind as to the importance of the stay at home message. Abiding by it was clearly a key element in our war against COVID-19, and at the helm of introducing it was none other than Dominic Cummings. But Mr. Cummings choosing to relocate for his isolation did nothing to undermine this message. The thing which undermined it are the fake claims carried in media outlets that Cummings spoke to members of the public while ill, took scenic trips in public places, and made two or three trips to Durham. These claims which have dominated print and airwaves for three days have undermined the message more than anything Cummings could hope to do.
In fact, like the rest of us, Cummings missed funerals. Did not speak or hug his parents. He relocated for the safety of his child. To continue this witch hunt is to derail public health messaging at vital moment and endanger lives, let the man carry on with his work.