Dominic Cummings is not a reliable witness but much of what he has said to the select committees about this Government’s catastrophic and criminal handling of the Coronavirus pandemic rings more than true to those who were on the front line or closely following the Government’s actions, reactions and inactions from January 2020 onwards.
A contemptuous disregard for the lives and wellbeing of elderly, disabled, at risk, poor, black and brown people, as well as low-paid key workers whether in the health or social care services, schools, supermarkets, delivery or public transport sectors, has characterised the Government’s approach throughout. A decade of Tory austerity, cuts and privatisations mean that the public services we need and expect to support and protect us have been either non-existent or woefully inadequate.
130,000 deaths and thousands condemned to a life of chronic illness have been the result: many of them our friends, workmates and relatives. For the past 18 months we have endured delay and prevarication, lies, corrupt procurement practices, a now-denied herd immunity policy, the economy being prioritised over public health, sick and infectious people being shunted between care homes and hospitals, many forced to work and learn in unsafe, unventilated environments, insufficient help and support being provided to those needing to self-isolate, the experience and knowledge of other countries, let alone the UK’s own scientists and experts, being repeatedly ignored. Cummings has confirmed what we have been saying for months.
Dominic Cummings bears as much responsibility for the social murder he has exposed as those he now castigates. His catalogue of errors, while extensive, omits much that he was responsible for – most significantly the £37 billion failed Test and Trace system, purposely set up as an outsourced, centralised system to bypass local public sector expertise.
Nothing Cummings has said will stop a third wave of the virus engulfing us unless the Government is prepared to change its approach from one of mitigation to one of elimination. This requires it to delay lifting the existing restrictions until all four steps in the roadmap have been fully met; to take effective action to fix the test and trace system to stop the spread of the B.1.617.2 and other variants, by handing it over to local public health experts; to make all workplaces and schools Covid-safe; to retain measures such as face coverings and social distancing; and to take effective measures to manage international travel – including free testing and quarantine – based on public health requirements not immigration control.
The Government is hiding behind Cummings’ lack of credibility with the public. The truth has to come out and come out now. Without truth there can be no justice. This means an immediate start to the promised statutory public inquiry, with a short, sharp interim review so that its findings are not delayed for years. The families of the tens of thousands of people who died deserve no less.