No, the Public Fury Will Not “Move On” Prime Minister!

It is quite clear from the last week that the majority of the public are furious.

Indeed MPs from across the country, including Conservative MPs, have said that the anger they are receiving from their constituents over the rule breaking of the Prime Minister’s chief advisor, Dominic Cummings, is overwhelming.

This has also been reflected in a survey poll by Opinium for the Observer that shows a massive 81% of the public think Cummings broke the rules and 68% want him to resign. If he does not, then 66% believe he should be sacked and over 1 million people and rising have also signed a petition calling for the same.

An increasing number of Tory MPs have also called for him to go as have countless others including some of the Government’s own scientific advisors.

It is not just the fury over the rule breaking itself, but the lack of any remorse from Cummings who has continued with an arrogant sense of being ‘exceptional’ and which is noticeably in line with the British exceptionalism he has been a pivotal part of pushing with his – and the Government’s – messaging on Brexit in that this country is going to be a stand-alone leader on the world stage. To the contrary the UK has now become an international laughing stock!

Following the bizarre press conference from Cummings (a rule break in itself seeing as special advisors are not supposed to give such a press conference!) and his Mariah Carey diva-style late arrival, people have taken to social media in large numbers to point out the glaring discrepancies in his ‘account’ of events

None of it made any sense to any reasonable person watching. He claims he wanted to protect his child yet he put him in a small confined space with two parents suspected of suffering from a deadly virus and then claims he didn’t stop on a 5 hour or so journey so no one presumably was able to go to the toilet.

Then, and most ludicrous of all, days later when claiming he was suffering with disturbed vision and wasn’t sure if his eyes were up to driving he put his wife and the young son – he was so keen to keep safe – in the car and drove to a beauty spot (Barnard Castle) 30 miles away to test if he was able to see to drive!

I have to say as someone who suffered an injury to my eyes in August 2009 – and that changed significantly my eyesight and the interference with my field of vision – I did not get back into a car again for at least 2 years and when I did it was a short drive locally after confirming with both my eye consultant and the DVLA that it was okay still to drive with the eye problems I have. I certainly would not have taken anyone in that first local drive with me, let alone a young child, and if the “went for a drive as wanted to test eyesight” claim were true then it is both irresponsible and dangerous if his eyes had not been tested first.

However, as Paddy McGuinness so politely put it in his ditty “Is this the Way to Barnard Castle” after the press conference, it all just sounded “a load of bullshit.” (I actually tweeted my own little ditty amending the Fleetwood Mac classic “Sweet Little Lies” to the far more aptly titled “Huge Fucking Lies!”)

So who would be stupid enough to actually believe this nonsense? Well, as it turns out only our Prime Minister and other Ministers who were wheeled out one after the other to insist Cummings had done nothing wrong and that he had acted “legally, responsibly and with integrity” and on his “parental instincts.”

It is not hard to see why the vast majority of law abiding citizens are incandescent with rage, as what Cummings did was simply not in line with the rules at the time and which millions of people all over the country did adhere to, often with devastating and heart-breaking consequences. Such as all those who stayed away from visiting loved ones before they died in hospital, in care homes, even at their funerals. No one can forget the haunting image of 13 year old Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab who was buried without any family present and this was the same for many other families unable to say their final goodbyes

The catastrophic human toll goes way beyond the number of deaths related to this lethal virus (which has been suggested by the Office of National Statistics to be around 60,000 and which is way above the Government’s published figures), as there is all the untold grief for those left behind, and which is already acutely compounded by the cruelty of the physical separation at the end.

Add to that the realisation many people now feel that it seems they could have gone (in full PPE) to see their loved ones before it was too late, held their hands and tried as best as possible to comfort them during what is clearly a horrific death. Many will now forever regret not acting on their own natural “instincts.”

The dismissive response from Boris Johnson and many of his Cabinet Ministers to the overwhelming public fury before them – including repeatedly saying the matter is now “closed” and it is time to “move on” – just adds even further insult to injury to all the huge sacrifices people have made over the last 10 weeks.

The Government response has been shameful and contemptuous and leaves us in little doubt that there is now a truly disturbing darkness in Downing Street.

It has also clearly undermined the crucial public health messaging as social media accounts are awash with people saying they will not follow anything else the Government asks, at least not until Cummings “gets the sack or resigns.”

Many go even further calling for the Prime Minister and various Ministers who supported – in addition to Cummings – to resign as its clear all of them have lied

At Thursday’s press conference Boris Johnson again continued his attempts, supported by the Chief Scientific Advisor and Chief Medical Officer to cage this as a “political issue” when this is actually a public health and safety issue.

Further, the guidelines and rules were no doubt put together based on the scientific and medical advice from Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty. So the attempts to shut this down by misrepresenting what it actually is is unacceptable

Yet the events of the last week have actually clouded – and distracted from – the even greater scandal of what has happened here in the UK during this pandemic.

There has been a catalogue of catastrophic fatal errors by the Government from the outset in failing to protect people from Covid-19 including the scandalous failure to protect our most vulnerable, elderly and frail in care homes. Failure to protect our health and social care professionals with no or inadequate PPE – hundreds of whom have died, along with a number of transport workers who also were not provided with appropriate PPE – as well as continued failings on testing, as only around 6% or less of the population have actually been tested.

Then there was the failure to stop mass gatherings and lockdown early enough (and even then not strict enough allowing 20 million people to fly in unchecked) due to a monumentally ill-conceived and totally reckless “herd immunity” approach – as the PM himself appeared to advocate live on TV to millions of shocked This Morning viewers when explaining the theory of letting “it spread through the population” and “take it on the chin.” So, seemingly encouraging the spread of a lethal virus among the very people he is meant to seek to protect!

The fact that Cummings is the voice Boris Johnson listens to the most is now abundantly clear following the events of the last week, and so the reports that Cummings was the true champion of herd immunity seems all the more likely.

Yet Cummings is not a politician or a scientific advisor, so why the hell has he had such a prominent role in both the political and scientific decisions in the biggest public health crisis of a century? He is unelected and seemingly wholly unaccountable for anything he says or does, irrespective of the consequences.

All of the Government’s catastrophic fatal errors have resulted in the UK now having the highest rate of deaths in the world from Covid-19, according to excess mortality figures. The UK has registered 59,537 more deaths than usual since the week ending March 20, indicating that the virus has directly or indirectly killed 891 people per million. The absolute number of excess UK deaths is also the highest in Europe, and second only to the US in global terms.

Recent scientific assessment has concluded that three quarters of the deaths so far in Britain could have been avoided if the Government had acted sooner and taken strict measures to protect the health and lives of the people in this country, and which is supposed to be its primary duty over and above anything else.

Yet the Government has refused to accept responsibility for any its fatal failings

In my experience of taking a Government to the High Court over the scandalous failure to protect people from another comparable public health policy (the absence of protection for rural communities from toxic crop pesticides), lawyers will have no doubt advised the Government to not, at any stage, and in any capacity, admit to any mistakes or failings to avoid accepting any responsibility and accountability, as this could then be seen as an acceptability of liability.

Lawyers will inevitably tell them to avoid doing this considering the prospect of legal cases being brought further down the line for causing deaths as a result of Government negligence and state failings including from lack of PPE for health and social care workers. This is why whenever any question is asked at the daily press briefings for an apology it has not been forthcoming and indeed quite the opposite as day after day we see the Government boasting about its ‘success’.

This is all part of the strategy (by Cummings most likely!) to deflect and spin the narrative and shift the focus away from all the mounting and truly staggering failings of the Government onto anything that could be dressed up in a positive light. Hence why we have heard the desperate attempts to find success from the most ridiculous examples such as the Transport Minister, Grant Shapps, excitement for the forthcoming work on the A66 dual carriageway, and the announcement by Home Secretary, Priti Patel, that shoplifting has fallen, when firstly that was as a result of only limited shops actually being open, but most importantly it was totally irrelevant in the whole scheme of things and the horrifying mass deaths we have all been witnessing.

There is now a sense of Deja vu as the Government has pushed forward with easing measures when many scientists and public health experts – including a number of the Government’s own scientific advisors – have said it is too soon.

The Government’s very own Covid-19 alert system that Boris Johnson introduced only 3 weeks ago was clear that there could be no further easing of measures until the level had reached level 3. It has been confirmed by the Joint Biosecurity Centre that it is still at level 4. This means that the “regulations in force since March will remain unchanged as long as this is considered to be the case.” This includes schools and non-essential retail shops remaining closed.

The Government is therefore ignoring all the stark warnings – exactly as it did in March when delaying any measures coming in in the first place – as its primary concern appears to be one of economic, business, and financial considerations.

But the bottom line is this. Businesses and the economy can always be built back up, however dire an impact. But those who die from this virus cannot be brought back. When we die that is it. There is no return ticket in this life and so the lives of the British people must be protected – first and foremost – at all costs

Yet it is clear from all the fatal errors to date that lives have not been protected.

This is the even greater scandal (than Cumming’s rule breaking) of the Government’s disgraceful – and many are rightly calling criminally negligent – response to the threat to the British people from this deadly invisible invader.

So no, the public fury will most definitely not “move on” Prime Minister and indeed it is you, your senior advisor, and other accomplices, who should be moving on! Too many lives have been lost and we don’t want to lose any more!

Georgina Downs is a journalist and campaigner. She has lived next to regularly sprayed crop fields in the UK for more than 30 years and runs the UK Pesticides Campaign