Over the past few days I have received a deluge of messages regarding the actions of the Prime Minister’s most senior advisor, Dominic Cummings.
These often-heart-breaking messages have been from people who have simply done their best to keep our community safe, whatever the personal cost. I have heard from health workers who have had to tell relatives they could not see their loved ones in their final hours; grandparents who haven’t seen their children or young grandchildren for many months and have instead watched them change so fast over video calls; and families who themselves have had symptoms of Covid-19, but self-isolated as they were told.
Everyone was doing it to keep each other, and our NHS, safe.
Each person who has contacted me feels a sense of betrayal that the most senior advisor in the Government, responsible for drawing up the rules, is so unwilling to face up to his own responsibility. His refusal to recognise the mistakes he has made has damaged confidence in the Government and – much more importantly – in its public health message at a most critical time.
Indeed, we are already seeing signs that people are taking the lockdown much less seriously following the emergence of this story. The failure of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to even demand an apology is, regrettably, the measure of a Government which has lost any sense of integrity, courage and credibility.
As the rules change over the coming months it could not be more important that we have ministers who can speak with authority and clarity. Their performance over recent days in explaining away a clear breach of the rules to protect a political friend, has sadly made that more difficult.
I want to reiterate how proud I have been to see our community come together and do what was needed to care for each other and keep the pressure, as much as possible, off our incredible health & care workers and other key workers. Since the day I was elected, I have called for these workers to be recognised for the vital work they do with proper pay, decent conditions and a pension they can enjoy a deserved retirement on. The Government shouldn’t just clap for them, they should make their lives easier – for good.