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Even today at the press conference, the PM had a chance to make a graceful half-apology: “yes, I’m sure it would have been better to have worked out better arangements for Dominic in London, but given the circumstances, he genuinely felt it best to deal with the problem within his family circle. However I’m sorry for the offence this has caused to people who didn’t have the options he had, and for any lack of clarity in the guidelines. The British people have responded magnificently to an unprecedented situation, and I know they will continue to show the same sense of civic responsibility as we move forward together.”
It wouldn’t have won over everyone, but I think it would have drawn a line, because he would have given a little ground to his critics (some of whom voted for him in December) without losing face himself. Instead, he steam-rollers on with a blanket denial, which sounds ever-more ridiculous, and sends cabinet ministers out every day to tell blatant lies about something that is fairly trivial.
It’s The lies, and the disrespect they show for the electorate, that are the issue for me. I’ve been disillusioned by Westminster for a long time, and it just makes me think that Scotland should take control of its own affairs, for better or worse.
This is all quite unimportant now, as the PM is determined to keep him in Downing St, but there is part of me that is not able to get over the fact that Mr Cummings and various government minister have treated the public as idiots. No sane adult puts their child in the car if they fear they are unfit to drive. No reasonable person tests their eyesight by going for a drive, despite Gove protesting that he himself has done so.
The whole story is an insultingly poor lie, and the strange thing is that the only person who it serves is Mr Cummings, who is not even a Conservative. Large swathes of the public now associate this ludicrous fiction with Shapps/Gove/Hancock and Boris himself, and regard them as liars. All the unity forged by this crisis has been wasted, and the PM hasn’t even won. He has kept his aide, but his sheer desperation to keep him makes him look weak.
All the police can say is what action they would have taken under the law. So, even if they issue a fine, the person who gets it either tacitly admits the offence by paying, or the case escalates to a judge/magistrate to reach a judgment.
Quite honestly, it’s the insult to intelligence which is so irritating. If Cummings had appeared on Monday and said that he and his wife had been cooped up for 2 weeks and just wanted to go slightly further afield now that they were out of quarantine, I honestly think many people would have accepted a reasonably sincere apology.
Instead we got a man who seemed irritated to have to explain himself, and who told a ridiculous story that doesn’t even seem designed to be believed.