There are political scandals which are only of interest to a small number of politics geeks, and then there are political scandals which fundamentally damage the relationship between politicians and the public. Dominic Cummings and his trip to Durham and his excursions in eye exams are, despite the best efforts of the British Government, an example of the latter. Do you know anyone who has moved on from their anger and disgust? Do you know anyone who is happy to put this matter behind us and whose opinion of the British Government has been unchanged? No. Neither do I.
During a global emergency, the public will tolerate a lot. We’ve seen how people are prepared to forego what until just a few months ago were seen as fundamental liberties. People have been willing to give up on seeing their families. They’ve been prepared to weep as they lose family members whose bedsides they can’t sit beside. They’ve been prepared to give up on hugs, kisses, and embraces from their loved one. They’ve been prepared to sacrifice their incomes and financial security for the greater good. But what they’re not prepared to tolerate is being taken for a bunch of mugs. What they’re not prepared to put up with is the smug smirking of a self-serving liar who takes us all for idiots.
It’s one thing being taken for a fool by a competent, professional, and intelligent person, a person who comes across as being arrogant but who has much to be arrogant about. It’s quite a different matter when you’re taken for a fool by a fool, a man who considered different excuses to argue away his day trip to Castle Barnard with his wife and kid on her birthday and the best that he could come up with was an embarrassing parody of a SpecSavers advert. It’s quite a different matter being taken for a fool by a fool who claims to be an expert in online manipulation who edited his blog to make it appear that he’d predicted the epidemic but forgot that the rest of us are bright enough to remember that older versions of the blog are archived.
Part time Prime Minister Johnson said last week that people will make up their own minds, as he defended his decision to back his auto-optician advisor, and that is indeed what people have done. They’ve made up their minds that Dominic Cummings is a lying liar who’s being defended by lying liars. They’ve made up their minds that we have a government of hypocrites, shysters, charlatans, and careerists. And in Scotland they’ve made up their minds that the Scottish Government has been a model of competence, honesty, and professionalism by comparison.
All this comes precisely when the British Government is in greatest need of public trust and faith in its judgement. Coming out of lockdown is a time of great danger as there is a very real risk of a second wave of infections. Unfortunately the signs are that the British Government is coming out of lockdown in the exact same way that it entered it, mistimed and misconceived and driven primarily by considerations of its political priorities and the economy rather than public health. Now when Government ministers call on the public to do the right thing, the public will only wonder why that same call isn’t also being heard by members of the British Government. British rule is do as I say, not do as I do. That’s precisely how not to build public trust. It’s how to destroy it.
The UK is coming out of lockdown while there are still approximately 8000 new cases of covid-19 daily and over 300 daily deaths. No other European state is considering a loosening of lockdown measures while the virus is still running so rampant. There are serious concerns that the track and trace system being introduced in England is unfit for purpose and scarcely in any state to begin operations. At the best of times it would be hard enough to prevent a second outbreak of the virus, the British Government appears to be creating the very worst of all possible conditions.
What with all the crowded beaches, the BBQs in back gardens, the protesters in Trafalgar Square, there could well be a serious spike in the number of new cases in a few weeks time. Who can blame people for thinking that if Dominic Cummings can do it, so can they – certainly the British Government has no moral authority to blame anyone. The fault for the deaths in the second round of infections will lie with Boris Johnson and his lackeys. Those deaths will be at his door, but he’ll just step over them on his way to another shambling attempt to begin a sentence that tells us all how little he cares.
On top of everything else we’re being led by a British Government which has lost the goodwill of the public in its desperation to protect its own members. The Prime Minister is more afraid of what nasty little secrets Dominic Cummings might spill if he’s sacked than he is of the possibility of thousands of more dead. It’s already no secret that Cummings has as much contempt for the Conservative cabinet as he does for everyone else. The issue for Johnosn is that given what’s already in the public sphere about the massive shortcomings of professional narcissist Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, the dirty secrets that Cummings knows can only be horrendously bad for the tattered rags of what’s left of this British Government’s reputation.
This is what we’ve been delivered after Better Together promised Scotland in 2014 that by remaining in the UK Scotland would have the best of both worlds and told us that we depended upon the safety and security that only the UK could offer. We have a Scottish Government which is constantly forced to firefight the disasters emanating from Westminster. We have a soaring death toll in Scotland because we’re tied to the UK model and any divergence by the Scottish Government, no matter how small or how sensisble, is decried by British nationalists as a threat to the unity of the UK. They prize their so-called union more than they value our lives. That’s a lesson we have noted, and will remember when there is, as there most assuredly will be, another independence referendum. A vote for independence will be a vote to value humanity.
And finally, because we could all do with a laugh during these difficult times … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRw1-ArnlNo
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