Dominic Cummings is too clever to break the rules - GulfToday

Dominic Cummings is too clever to break the rules

Tom Peck


Peck is The Independent's Political Sketch Writer.


Dominic Cummings, Matt Hancock.

The only appropriate reaction at this point is to stand and applaud, quite possibly even on our doorsteps, once a week. #ClapforCummings. I’ll be doing it and you should too.

Except the applause is not really for Dominic Cummings but for ourselves. Just a short moment of thanks for our extraordinary good fortune to have been alive on Earth at the same time as this, the single greatest genius in human history. Dominic Cummings: the cleverest man ever to have lived.

Sure, there have been other geniuses, people like, say, Einstein. But all he ever did was look upon the world around him and distil the chaos down to the rules that only he could see.

Cummings is different. Unique, even. When Cummings acts, the sheer power of his intellect changes the rules around him, even the ones that he made himself. Stay Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives. Drive 260 miles up the A1 with a car full of coronavirus. Which of these even were the government guidelines, written across those lecterns for all those weeks? Can any of us really be sure?

Michael Gove, Rishi Sunak, Matt Hancock, Dominic Raab — they’ve already forgotten everything they’ve spent the last three months saying, but we’ll come on to that shortly.

You, I, everybody else, we do as we are told. We stay home, we protect the NHS, we save lives. We don’t see our friends, our family. We lose our livelihoods and we just carry on. We follow the rules. And if we get caught breaking them, like Scotland’s chief medical officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, or the government’s scientific adviser, Professor Neil Ferguson, we resign. But we are not Dominic Cummings. Through the power of Cummings’s genius, reality shifts. Things that seemed so clear, so unarguable, so written down, so said out loud thousands of times by government ministers, turn out to have been bent into new shapes as they stood in the path of the hoodie-wearing brain hurricane.Of course, it is possible, correct even, to sympathise with someone when their wife comes down with Covid-19, and you do too, and you’re not sure how you’ll care for your little boy. But the whole point of the coronavirus crisis is that it’s streaked with unimaginable trails of human suffering, of impossible decisions. Elderly people have died with no friends or family around them, and then been buried at unattended funerals. People have done as they are told, against what’s in their own personal interest, even, believe it or not, when it is against what common sense dictates.

None of these people have been able to count on the actual government bending reality to accommodate them. These are the government guidelines for those showing coronavirus symptoms: “Do not leave your home for any reason.”

That’s quite clear, isn’t it? It’s also still in place now. Are these guidelines voluntary? No they’re not.

Enter Hancock, on 3 April, to clarify the following: “This advice is not a request. It is an instruction. Stay at home, protect lives and you will be doing your part.”

And it’s not merely that Cummings’s genius bends the past, it also bends the future.

“If you have symptoms of coronavirus you should self-isolate and get yourself tested. Don’t risk spreading the virus.”

That’s what Johnson posted on Facebook, on Saturday morning, as his most senior ministers were all on social media explaining how Cummings had so very obviously broken them but had also done nothing wrong.Hancock called for police action against Neil Ferguson who, by the way, had someone visit his house after his coronavirus symptoms had passed and thus was almost certainly immune to both catching or spreading the virus. But when Cummings drives the disease across the country, it’s “entirely right”.

For Sunak, what Cummings did is “justifiable and reasonable”. So justifiable and reasonable that The Guardian and The Mirror, which broke the story, have been relentlessly asking Downing Street about it for six weeks, and every time they have declined to comment, for absolutely no reason beyond the hope that doing so might cause the story not to be published. Now it has been confirmed by police, the thing that they connived to prevent anybody from knowing is suddenly “justifiable and reasonable”.

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