Assertions by Cummings were lost in the blackening of his name
- Credit: PA
With temperatures rising and vaccination rates still climbing, it would not come as a surprise if this paper’s readers did not care, or even register, that I had been re-elected by other councillors to serve a second term as Leader of EDDC for the 2021-22 civic year. It’s hardly Biden beats Trump, is it?
However, the day after the vote I succumbed to a digestive affliction which flattened me all week, the only pleasure being in hearing my family describe long walks and canoeing over a perfect Bank Holiday weekend. I had not taken a day off since being elected leader in May 2021, a tricky civic year. A few friends hinted this might be nature’s way of getting me to switch off for a few days.
Therefore, moaning quietly on the sofa, I was able to watch all seven hours of Dominic Cummings’ evidence to a select committee about the Covid-19 crisis and the way his government responded. I cannot say this made me feel any better. The picture of arrogance, unable to disguise that he felt himself to be the cleverest person in the room, and in a somewhat repellent way lacing his evidence with soundbites involving the words “Hancock”, “sacking”, and “the Prime Minister would not act”, this was testimony from the ultimate revenge witness.
As such, it was easy for Conservative papers and heavy-hitting Parliamentarians to dominate the response, characterising him as a bitter ex-puppet master who’d thought Pinocchio would do his whim for eternity, only to be usurped as the string-puller by the puppet’s now wife. It was all ugly, and various significant assertions by Cummings were lost in the blackening of his name.
Back in more fragrant East Devon last week, in addition to Leader, we also voted for a new Chair of the Council, Cllr Ian Thomas, who I look forward to working with immensely. The vacancy arose because his predecessor, Dr Cathy Gardner, did not wish to stand for a second term. I have known Cathy as a campaigner for a decade, and she needs the time to fight the legal case she is central to, seeking the truth about those thousands of infected patients forced out of hospitals and into care homes, where the disease then killed tens of thousands more. Cathy’s dad was one of them.
A biologist with a long career in the pharmaceutical industry, Cathy was warning me about the utter stupidity of this in mid-March last year, well before it was a national story and her own father would sadly then become a casualty. Horribly and inadvertently, she’d predicted his fate.
Dominic Cummings had a lot to say about all that last week, and having watched every word it felt like the truth to me. His quotes will doubtless be used in Cathy’s case challenging the government, and it is conceivable he will be called as a witness. So, this leads to what I have always felt will be the two ultimate lessons of 2020 and 2021.
First, in 2020, I wrote that we needed to treat the pandemic – in financial terms – like WW2. Against the instincts of many, we had no option but to rack up a 50 year public debt. This is what has transpired. Many individuals and businesses have been pushed to the edge, but for the majority the support has enabled a knife-edge survival. Much of public financial policy has bordered on “socialism”. With complete irony, a Brexit-driven, well-to-the-right, Conservative government is in power at a time when left-of-centre ideas are the only show in town.
And secondly, the biggest health scandal in the history of the UK, infected care homes in the pandemic, will be found next year in the courts to be precisely that. However, we can be sure that the Tories will want us to remember the paragraph of plenty above, and not that.
Surely, we won’t get fooled again?