Every day, I hear from constituents who are finding lockdown very hard. This is not an easy time for any of us. I hear from families unable to hold proper funerals for loved ones, I hear from parents who have very little space at home (sometimes themselves with symptoms), desperately trying to look after their children. I hear from shielded individuals who have not set foot out of their home since this crisis began who are feeling increasingly isolated and distressed.
They are all making sacrifices and are doing so because their government have rightly stressed the need for these sacrifices to be made in order to save lives. What people need from their government is clarity, consistency and a sense that those sacrifices are being respected by everyone, no matter how high in stature.
What Dominic Cummings did was wrong. It was every bit as wrong as Neil Ferguson, who did the right thing in the end and resigned for breaking lockdown advice last month.
I am also a father. I understand the urge to reach out to members of my family for support during a very challenging time. But, out of respect for the safety of those family members, the need for nationwide discipline to save lives and in light of the sacrifices that I am asking my constituents to make every day I have not succumbed to this instinct.
The selfish actions of this individual at the heart of government involved in making the decision on the lockdown is one thing, the Prime Minister’s statement on Sunday evening was quite another. Boris Johnson had an opportunity to show the country that this kind of hypocrisy is not tolerated by the UK Government. Instead, he chose not only to defend but condone the actions of his advisor. In doing so he undermined the lockdown, put lives at risk and completely disrespected everyone who has been trying, through adversity, to do the right thing in this crisis. Boris Johnson has undermined the country’s ability to come out of the crisis sooner by trashing his own credibility and the credibility of the official advice.
I want the government to succeed, to get this right for the sake of every vulnerable UK citizen and to avoid a second peak and another damaging lockdown. By protecting Dominic Cummings, I fear, not for the first time, that they have created a bigger hill for us all to climb.