‘S&C contributor and Pompey Politics Podcast host Ian Morris shares his experience of the lockdown, as someone with diabetes. It’s Day 71, and Ian explains his view as to why Dominic Cummings did not break the lockdown rules.
Tuesday 26th May, Day 71 of 89.
The spirit of the game.
Cricket – now stick with me non-sports fans – is played to the laws of the game, but more than the laws, it should be played in the ‘spirit of the game’ and this is something that has always been important to me. The spirit of the game is about how you play, it’s about decency and doing the right thing. For instance if I have clipped the ball and the catch is taken, I walk – even if the umpire hasn’t heard the noise or seen the edge. I know I have hit it so I am out. Some argue in this day and age there is no place for the spirit of the game, but I argue that all the time there are those of us who uphold it then it’s alive. If another player chooses not to play the game in this way then they are not breaking any laws but I pour judgement upon them, they are not a good person.
This means it has been a very tough weekend in politics for me.
Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s special advisor, has been caught by the media driving over 250 miles from London to Durham to be close to his parents when he thought his wife had Covid-19 and he suspected he was coming down with it. If you have turned the TV on this weekend you will have all the details, and if you didn’t turn the TV on then I am sure you don’t want me to bore you with all the details here. Suffice to say there has been forensic scrutiny of the governments advice and whether he broke the rules or whether there was latitude within them to allow for his actions.
The story broke on Friday evening, Saturday saw a co-ordinated Twitter fest from the Conservative cabinet defending his actions, and we had Boris himself stepping out on Sunday’s press conference to defend his lad’s actions and then refuse to discuss it any further. So the entire press conference was more of a farce than usual.
At this point I was clear, he had to go – to use my sporting analogy, he knew he had hit the ball and he was out. Then Monday saw the man himself step onto the podium and give his version of events. I realised for someone so high profile I had never heard him speak.
He laid out all the circumstances and the timeline of his actions, including rubbishing some of the media reports that had painted his actions to be much darker than they were. The questions from the media after had my eyebrows disappearing over the top of my head and shouting expletives at my TV. As the facts he had laid bare didn’t suit some of their narratives, I felt they just doubled down on ‘arrogant rich white man for whom the rules don’t apply’.
It is clear to me that Dominic Cummings did not break the rules. Yes, it is still doubtful whether the Durham option was the only option but after the press conference, I could no longer put my hand on my heart and say I wouldn’t have done the same in his situation. Personally, I still think he should go. If Monday’s press conference had happened at Saturday lunchtime, it would have saved the government a lot of strife, so as an advisor his hope that it would all blow over was another poor decision.
Here is where my moral compass takes a turn though: after watching the behaviour of the press, I saw it as bullying – not just telling lies about the man but trying to turn a complex situation into a parlour game of Evil or Genius? (check out Russell Kane’s great podcast series). If this is the way the press are going to act, if it’s a binary choice, then I can’t brand him evil.
For me the story is now over and he gets to stay.
Don’t miss Ian’s diary each day, keep an eye out for new entries here, along with past editions of the Pompey Politics Podcast. How are you managing the lockdown at the moment? Get in touch with us over on Facebook or Twitter and let us know your experiences and any hints and tips you’re finding helpful right now.