Accusations of lying flew around the Select Committee room – mostly directed at Matt Hancock. A Minister who, if Cummings is to be believed, could not be trusted, indeed was not trusted by the Cabinet Secretary. Or others.(Apparently. We have yet to hear from Mr Sedwill.) Indeed, judging by how often Cummings was asking the PM to sack his Health Secretary, it’s a wonder anyone in government had any time to worry about dealing with the pandemic so busy were they trying to stab each other in the back.
“If Cummings is to be believed“. Well, there’s one problem, right there. Why believe him on this when so many did not believe him a year ago, when he gave us his desperately worried father’s tale about child care and failing eyesight?
But there is a more fundamental problem even than this. So what if Matt Hancock lied every time he opened his mouth? Why on earth should this be considered a failing or a criticism in a government led by a serial and unashamed liar, with Ministers in it who have previously admitted lying or who have previously been sacked for lying?
Cummings worked hard to get this government elected. He was happy to work for it until he left 5 months ago. He poo-poohed those who criticised the PM for his character flaws. He sneered at the grandees who pointed out his unfitness to be a Minister let alone PM. He elevated winning – by whatever means – as the only goal which mattered. He attacked or dismissed those institutions and processes which stood in the way, which suggested that how one achieves ones political aims matters as much as what those aims are. He helped fashion a new politics which viewed the implementation of the People’s Will as the only thing which mattered – not integrity or honesty or trustworthiness.
Yesterday he went to Parliament and asked MPs and voters to accept a currency which he helped debase. Trustworthiness is meant to matter again, is it? That would be nice. If so, Hancock had better get in line to get his thrashing because there are plenty of others in government more deserving of it ahead of him in the queue, starting with the PM. In reality, trustworthiness doesn’t matter – whether to Cummings or anyone else in government. Or only to the extent that it can be used to enhance one’s own credentials or attack someone else. The party which the PM, Gove, Cummings and others helped create – and turn into a formidable election-winning machine – did so by laying waste to previous notions of integrity, honour and trust, however imperfect and inconsistently applied they were. A bit rich of Cummings now to complain about their absence. He might have thought of that before working so hard to ensure that a man he now claims is unfit to be PM became PM.
Still, all this falling out amongst thieves is entertaining for those interested in Westminster dramas. Though rather less so for the families of those who died during the pandemic. It is they who have reaped the whirlwind Cummings helped sow.