Cummings and Goings: Why is it one rule for Boris’s mates, and another for us?

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People around the country have been struggling with being under strict lockdown measures, but for the majority, saving lives is worth the sacrifice. So, why isn’t it the same for Dominic Cummings?

It was revealed over the weekend, with more details constantly emerging at the time of writing, that at the end of March, Cummings, his wife, and young son travelled from London to Durham, a nearly three hundred-mile trip. During his time in the North-East, Cummings allegedly made a trip to the town of Barnard Castle and was seen by a member of the public dancing in his parents’ garden to ABBA. After being spotted back at Number 10 on April 14th, he then makes a second trip to his northern estate, the allegations of which are being denied by the government.

The timeline so far:

March 23rd: Boris Johnson calls for a nationwide lockdown, in which people are not allowed to meet family or friends outside their household, and must only leave the house for necessary means.

27th March: Cummings is spotted at Downing Street.

30th March: Cummings is announced to be isolating after exhibiting symptoms, three days after Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock, and Professor Chris Witty do the same.

31st March: Durham police issue a statement regarding reports that a man had travelled from London to the city and was currently at an address within the city, meaning Cummings travelled there between the 27th and the 30th.

12th April: Cummings is spotted in Barnard Castle, thirty miles south-west of Durham, after ending the fourteen-day period of self-isolation.

14th April: Cummings is again spotted at Downing Street, having travelled back to London sometime between the 12th and the 14th.

19th April: As reported on Sunday, Cummings was allegedly seen in Durham again on this date. Downing Street has stated that this is ‘false’. The eyewitness claims to have noted down Cummings’ number plate, having spotted him in Houghall Woods.

10th May: Several people tweet that Cummings is in Durham again. At the time of writing, this trip has not been addressed by the press or government.

MPs across all parties are now calling for Cummings’ resignation from his post as a senior political advisor to Boris Johnson, but aides such as Matt Hancock and Michael Gove have defended Cummings, saying he was ‘entirely right’ to make the trip under the circumstances. Claiming that due to him and his wife exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus, the trip was necessary to facilitate childcare, Cummings told reporters he had done the ‘right thing’ by making the trips, putting the safety of his child first.

It is worth noting that, despite being ill with COVID-19, Cummings was able to drive the nearly three hundred miles to Durham, and then back again. He claimed he was worried he would be unable to dress, bathe, or provide food for his son, who is four, but was able to have the mental coherence and physical health required to make a drive of significant length, far more strenuous than cooking a quick meal or caring for a child. Government advice at the time was for those with any symptoms to self-isolate for fourteen days, not leaving their homes, and travelling to a second household was explicitly forbidden.

With many in positions of power, the Scottish Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood, government scientist Neil Ferguson, and now Cummings, breaking lockdown restrictions, the public is quickly becoming tired of it seemingly being one rule for us and another for them. Whilst Calderwood and Ferguson stepped down from their positions, Cummings has received support from senior members of the Conservative Party. A statement was issued from Downing Street after the second set of allegations on Sunday, reading:

‘Yesterday the Mirror and Guardian wrote inaccurate stories about Mr Cummings. Today they are writing more inaccurate stories including claims that Mr Cummings returned to Durham after returning to work in Downing Street on the 14th of April. We will not waste our time answering a stream of false allegations about Mr Cummings from campaigning newspapers.’ In the press conference on Sunday evening, Johnson said Cummings had ‘followed the instincts of every parent’ and would not be reprimanded.

It is criminal that those in power are able to break the lockdown rules, blatantly putting lives at risk, without being punished. Dominic Cummings should be made to step down, not backed by the Prime Minister. This is yet another blow to Johnson’s image, as he fails to keep his own party in check during a time when his power needs to be concrete.

Lizzie Wright

Image: Wikimedia Commons.