Philip Evans: My Isolation Diary – Day 65 (Saturday, May 23 2020)
BORIS Johnson is in the soup again. Having escaped a criminal enquiry over his alleged liaison with American pole-dancing tech blonde Jennifer Arcuri, our very own blonde bombshell finds himself of the back foot again after his chief advisor, the enigmatic Dominic Cummings, breached the lockdown rules when he developed COVID-19 symptoms.
Signal mass calls for his resignation, particularly from the left wing press and opposition. Although they have been sitting on this story for a while, there was no way they were going to miss the chance of putting the Prime Minister under greater pressure.
There seems to be a growing feeling they can break him.
Cummings, a man who clearly gets dressed in the dark before going to work among all the suits in Downing Street, travelled 260 miles to his parents’ home in Durham when he was laid low by the virus, as was his wife. He explained he had no choice because their son had to be properly cared for.
But the man who is said to call all the shots at No 10 was, allegedly, seen dancing to Abba in the garden (can you imagine that?) and he was reported to the police. It is reported officers spoke to the family and advised them that they were in breach of the rule, although they did not charge him.
The PM’s most trusted advisor (although many wonder why) dismissed the incident as “fake news” and colleagues said there was no chance of him falling on his sword as previous miscreants – epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson, one of the government’s scientific advisors, and Scotland’s chief medical officer, Catherine Calderwood – had done.
This is all a bit of a sideshow compared with the real issues at stake and there is little expectation that Boris will sack his No 1 lieutenant, saying it was quite reasonable for him to travel so his son could be looked after properly.
Those shouting for his dismissal, however, are pointing out that Cummings played a big part in the creation of the lockdown rules and you can’t have “one rule for one and one for another”. In politics, that’s very often the case.
Today, Cummings has defended his actions, saying they were “reasonable and legal”.
Unless I’ve judged this wrong, tomorrow it will be someone else’s turn to take the spotlight.
Argument over schools reopening rumbles on
There seems little chance that children will start to go back to schools by June 1, as the government intended, with a number of education authorities in the north flatly refusing to do so. It would seem that track and tracing will have to be in place and working effectively before there is any movement.
Suddenly the union leaders get their five minutes of fame. Back in the dim and distant days of the 1970s their predecessors were household names. I can reel them off now; remember Jack Jones, Hugh Scanlon, Tom Jackson, Joe Gormley, Vic Feather and Len Murray and who could ever forget firebrand Arthur Scargill. They were hardly ever off our TV screens. How many can you name today?
Some of them were even invited to No 10 with beer and sandwiches which I always thought was a bit condescending.
Fortunately, industrial relations have come a long way since those days and it’s many years since this country has witnessed those dreadful scenes of workers and police clashing, as happened during the miners’ strike.
I can understand union leaders trying to make sure their members are safe and one poll out today shows that one in four parents don’t want their kids to go back to school yet. I know of several locally who don’t plan to send them back until September
Was all this week’s stressing wasted energy?
Most car parks and toilets in Lyme were opened today with an expectation that the easing of lockdown rules will see the town invaded by day-trippers and second homers.
As chairman of the Woodmead Halls Management Committee, I had to get the toilets open this morning as the town council decided to open the car park, the thinking being if the hordes are coming it’s better that they use the parks rather than parking in the streets.
It was very difficult to come up with a way of ensuring those using the toilets observe the social distancing regulations of staying two metres apart. We’ve done our best but, in the end, we have to rely on people’s common sense.
The weather is not quite so good today with heavy winds forecasted for later and there was little sign up until lunchtime that the town was going to be inundated.
So all that stressing that has been going on this week about whether to open the car parks and toilets may have been wasted energy.
Or, as Kody Kiplenger (look her up) once said: “You can’t control everything. Sometimes you just need to relax and have faith that things will work out.”
Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s chief advisor, under pressure to resign after being accused of breaching lockdown rules