JANET STREET-PORTER: I know we’re getting bored with Covid but there are 127,000 reasons to take seriously what Cummings has alleged about this government’s deceit, dither and incompetence – and they were all loved by somebody
If you’ve lost a loved one to Covid, the last word you want to hear is ‘sorry’.
Followed by a trite ‘yes, mistakes were made, but lessons will be learned’.
Let’s be clear; grandparents, partners, and friends died from this terrible disease as a result of (according to Cummings) a bucket-load of DECEIT, DITHERING, and PLAIN INEPITITUDE.
You can dismiss Cummings’ explosive seven hours of testimony as revenge porn or the bitter score-settling of a former Prince of Policy-making who suddenly found himself superseded. But that would be a huge mistake.
No matter how much we might loathe this weirdo who shows no loyalty to his former boss and who was never a team player anyway – and who still hasn’t really explained what his trip north was all about – there’s a host of reasons to listen carefully to what he’s saying.
Cummings was the man in the room.
Former Number 10 special adviser Dominic Cummings is pictured giving his testimony at a committee hearing in Portcullis House, London, on May 26
He saw it all at first hand – the U turns, the blind refusal to focus on the impending tragedy, the inability to grasp detail and make tough decisions. The obsession with how things would play in the media, the narcissism of a Prime Minister who wants to be loved at all costs.
According to Dom, the Prime Minister was surrounded by incompetent second division Ministers but had some ‘brilliant’ advisors and civil servants offering advice and support.
More from Janet Street-Porter For Mailonline…
But where was the leadership? According to Cummings, ‘they were lions led by donkeys’. The bloke at the helm was like a supermarket shopping trolley ‘spinning out of control’. The man at the top repeatedly compared himself to the Mayor in Jaws dealing with a shark attack- not a malevolent virus striking down our brightest and best.
The result? Tens of thousands of deaths which could have been prevented if the man in charge had exhibited some balls, some backbone and bulldog spirit. If he had been prepared to be disliked for imposing a strict lockdown when scientists and medics were desperate for action.
Instead, Boris thought the virus was like chicken pox or swineflu. That people were scare-mongering. That the Brits would never follow the restrictive rules imposed in Thailand and South Korea. (Lockdowns which were later proved to have been extremely effective).
By January 2021, the UK had 100,160 deaths from Covid, the worse death toll in Europe – and no matter what our leaders say, we’ve still suffered more excess deaths than most comparable countries in the West.
Now, the number of deaths from Covid stands at over 127,000 and the virus is still with us – mutating and changing, and Boris is STILL waffling about whether to extend restrictions beyond the end of June, how to deal with local outbreaks due to the Indian variant and how to handle a growing demand for foreign holidays.
Offering Portugal and a few islands on a Green list was a stop-gap – adding a few more small islands will not save the aviation industry or placate the travel operators.
It’s fair to say we would not be suffering the latest wave of local outbreaks if BJ had stopped flights into the UK from India at least a week earlier.
The most damaging assertion from Cummings is that Matt Hancock – the man in charge of the nation’s health – lied repeatedly. Specifically, that people were going to be tested for Covid before they were sent to care homes from hospitals. Now we know that’s not true.
On March 17th 2020 hospitals were told to send as out many elderly patients as they could to care homes, freeing up beds as the first wave of Covid started to peak.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson pictured visiting Colchester hospital in east England today, following Cummings’ explosive testimony yesterday
The most damaging assertion from Cummings is that Matt Hancock (pictured during a coronavirus media briefing today) – the man in charge of the nation’s health – lied repeatedly
Experts and NHS executives have confirmed that there was no requirement to test these people until April 15th, when it became mandatory. But there was a shortage of tests, implementation was down to local areas, and the numbers who were tested varied widely.
One care home operator told the BBC that up to 60% of residents in one of her homes died as a result of Covid being imported from a new arrival in this period.
Matt Hancock has claimed that doctors didn’t know enough about asymptomatic cases and how to spot them, ie people who exhibit no signs of the disease.
But that’s not true. NHS experts had identified this problem in March and so had the Lancet magazine.
Hancock – who Cummings says lied over and over again – strenuously denies these accusations and now said he only promised to start testing them once he actually had the tests.
But the facts aren’t in his favour – senior civil servants, scientists and medical experts all agree – Cummings is only telling us what we always suspected.
Hancock repeatedly said there was no shortage of PPE – even though NHS staff and Care home managers were appearing on the national news saying they could not get supplies.
Tens of thousands of deaths could have been prevented if the man in charge had exhibited some balls, some backbone and bulldog spirit, writes Janet Street-Porter (pictured)
According to the Full Fact charity and the National Audit Office, at the peak in April and May 2020 there were only a third of the aprons which were needed, a quarter of the eye protection, and 10% of the gowns that staff were begging for. One NHS senior staffer described it as ‘a debacle’.
As for Dominic Cummings’ assertion that Matt Hancock lied about the number of tests being carried out, fact checkers say he could never have delivered his target of 100,000 a day as the system was only capable of 40,000 at the start. And by the end April 2020 when Hancock proudly announced 122,000 tests in a single day, that was the number SENT OUT. In fact, only 82,000 tests were achieved.
You might think this is nit-picking.
But if your granny died in a care home (one of the 43,000 victims), or if you knew a worker unable to get protective clothing and who subsequently caught Covid, you would be enraged, because that turns out to be a preventable death.
A Prime Minister who talked of letting ‘bodies pile up in the streets’ before he would countenance a second lockdown is surely lacking in empathy.
Someone prepared to sacrifice tens of thousands of deaths because he reckoned the economy was more important than a load of pensioners who were house-bound anyway.
A muddle-headed clown who enthusiastically hugged and shook hands with people (even though experts were counselling social distancing) and caught Covid as a result.
A man who took a two-week holiday in February when all the signs were clear to see – this virus wasn’t going to stop while the middle classes took their annual skiiing break.
I know it’s been a long 15 months but please don’t be ‘bored’ by Covid.
Please don’t dismiss Cummings as an attention-seeking loon.
By January 2021, the UK had 100,160 deaths from Covid, the worse death toll in Europe. Now, the number of deaths from Covid stands at over 127,000 and the virus is still with us (pictured: the National Covid Memorial Wall in London)
We owe it to every single person who died. We must get to the bottom of what went wrong and those culpable must be removed from office while they still have them.
Boris is hoping that the public will be fed up with score-settling
And Tory MPs are saying let’s wait to investigate all these serious allegations in the official inquiry, hoping that people will just want to put the whole Covid nightmare behind them once life is back to normal.
But just remember what a senior civil servant allegedly said to Cummings in March last year: ‘There is no plan. We’re in huge trouble…heading for disaster. We’re going to kill thousands of people’.
In the event that turned out to be over a hundred and twenty-seven thousand people.
And if another crisis comes along tomorrow do you really believe the government will be any better prepared?
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