The Ed Balls excuse is trotted out again

The Guardian (all credit to them) has published an exposé that the Government’s senior adviser broke lockdown rules (imposed under the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations Act 2020) and travelled to a different family home when his wife had symptoms of Covid-19 and he had been in contact with people who were infected. [1]

In 2010 a leading Labour politician Ed Balls was caught by police using his mobile phone will driving. He was later fined for what was an offence. In trying to limit the damage to his political career Mr Balls came out with an absurd story that he was using his phone in his hand rather than on the handset (which would have been legal) because he didn’t want to wake his children who were sleeping in the back-seat. [2]

Matt Hancock (the one who claims that a “protective ring was thrown around care homes” despite the fact that until April 16 patients were being discharged from hospital into care homes without any requirement for a Covid-19 test) offers this defence of Cummings:

I know how ill coronavirus makes you. It was entirely right for Dom Cummins to find childcare for his toddler, when both he and his wife were getting ill. [3]

Mr Cummins fault is far greater than Mr Ball’s. Cummins broke laws which are designed to protect vulnerable people from catching and dying of Coronavirus. Mr Balls just risked a single road accident. But the attempt to whitewash the law-breaking follows the same pattern. In both cases there is some kind of special pleading – in fact it turns out about children. This is a kind of emotional blackmail of course. However, the main point is this. The law does not permit special pleading. This kind of argument may carry weight at sentencing but it is not relevant prior to conviction. The law is the law and must be obeyed. No one can negotiate a personal deal with the law however ‘special’ they feel their special circumstances are. Surely Ministers of State and Senior Advisers must know this? In this case they made the laws which Cummins broke so it is even more surprising. What is really going on here? Well, they can’t say it but what they really mean is that special laws apply to us – the political class, the leaders. And this negates the very democracy which propelled them to power and which they claim every day to be defending.

I never thought I would look back to 2010 when Britain’s political class distinguished themselves by robbing the House of Commons and breaking laws about mobile phones as a kind of innocent golden age. But now that Britain’s current generation of political class have shown themselves willing to oversee the needless slaughter of tens of thousands of elderly people and lie about it every day nothing can surprise me any longer. In this context trying to shape-shift their way out of the fact that their beloved special adviser has been caught breaking their own rules seems relatively trivial.

Update

As part of their media management of this crisis (the one thing these political class people can always do is media management) No. 10 released a statement saying “at no stage was he [Dominic Cummins] or his family spoken to by the police about this matter”.  Since the Guardian was adamant that the family had been spoken to by police it was clear that the explanation must lie in devious wording. And indeed it does.  It now seems that police spoke by phone to Mr Cummin’s parents.  This is the Independent: “Durham Constabulary have confirmed that a police officer spoke to Dominic Cummings’ father by phone after being made aware of the aide’s trip to Durham” [4] So No. 10’s claim that “at no stage was he or his family spoken to by the police about this matter” which they used to try to claim that the Guardian story is a “false allegation” [4] appears to rest on a very careful wording. Observers of this government will note that they are quite adroit at the carefully worded statement. (Who knows; perhaps this is one of Mr Cummin’s “skills”?). It appears that the police spoke to Mr  Cummin’s father at the request of the latter. The police say that they “deemed no further action was required”. They also appear to have treated the matter in a rather sycophantic way focussing on offering advice about security to Cummins senior. To some extent at least the Guardian has over-played their case about the police talking to the family. However, this doesn’t detract from the essential point that Mr Cummin’s trip to Durham involved multiple separate breaches of lockdown regulations. [NB. I updated this section on 24/5/20 when the Durham police statement was published]

This lot have for the last few weeks being telling lies of such obviousness and seriousness (for example concerning the deaths of tens of thousands of people) that it is clear that they no longer care if they are believed or not. They are in effect lying to our faces.

Notes

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/may/23/dominic-cummings-no-10-accused-of-covering-up-lockdown-breach
  2. https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/ed-balls-fined-using-mobile-phone-while-driving-1977403
  3. Quoted from Twitter by Tom Peck: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/dominic-cummings-lockdown-rules-coronavirus-durham-a9529766.html
  4. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/coronavirus-news-live-cases-deaths-uk-us-china-vaccine-symptoms-latest-a9529406.html

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer