Opinion Piece: And I Would Drive 260 Miles

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With ill-fitting sunglasses covering his eyes and a beige Lacoste polo shirt with holes in it to make him look like just another bloke, shapeshifter and political advisor, Dominic Cummings, emerges from his house in London (not Durham) to a crowd of journalists. “You should be social distancing”, his first response to a group of reporters camped outside of his home. They’re there to ask him about why he thought it was reasonable to travel 260 miles from his family home to deliver his four-year-old son to relatives in Durham. A day later, and Cummings finds himself at the forefront of a media storm. After pressure from most broadcast and print news, public figures and opposition, Cummings stepped out into a firestorm of pressure to resign. He didn’t, instead he doubled down on the very thing he’s being criticised for, and with that, received the full backing of the government. 

Cummings, a man who has appeal of an inflatable alien, is now asking you to accept that he acted legally and reasonably. However, outrage from the public is clear, and it won’t go away anytime soon.
But what is concerning is the amount of people looking to accept his response, and to move on. That’s the world we live in unfortunately, where scrutinising someone takes up valuable time, so we’d best leave the man alone since he’s suffered enough. Subservient masses aside, those that are looking to scratch beyond the surface of the story are rightfully outraged by the smug wrongdoings of the Prime Minister’s political adviser.

Anything the government now says, does or tries to act upon is undermined completely by Cummings’ mockery of “taking the bullet” for the good of the party. As the government looks to move us back into our places of work and schools, the divide of trust between them and public wanes ever thinner. Meaningless gestures from the government that provide us a foundation level of response to the crisis offer many the chance to brush past the various shortcomings of Johnson and his cabinet, making for a compliant and truly useless public.  

The divide between press and public too is a cause of growing concern. Perhaps I’m biased since I’m studying and training to be a journalist, but the majority of written or broadcast journalism is utilised with the main aim of informing the public on events up and down the country. Without journalism or the press, there would be no way to receive news or information. It’s up to the public to read up and educate themselves, to indulge in the information expressed. But to read this information and the facts it presents, only to deny it immediately afterwards is rather banal.  

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I’ve never seen a country so proud of its government’s incompetence. If we were French, we’d have had two revolutions this month already. The reason journalists are so critical and always prying with their questions is because they are trained to do so. It’s how you receive information from those that are looking to play the long game. To trip a politician up on their own lies or to have them flub a word shifts us ever closer to uncovering a genuine truth, something we desperately need from our government currently. For the public to turn their back on the press and to sever trust with those that look to find these facts is a bridge that cannot be rebuilt. Who then, will hold government figures and those in power to account? The public certainly won’t, but it unfortunately looks like few of them actually care.  

In my case, my younger brother, under the incoming guidelines, is expected to return to school on June 15th. As a collective, our family have decided we’d rather not put our trust in the hands of a sweaty handed mammal in a suit and would rather trust our own instincts, which is why my brother will not be returning to school. I couldn’t care for what the government have to say, and I hope more people come into the mindset of looking after their family regardless of what the government tells us to do. To follow along blindly with every word the government says, whilst its chief advisor traipses to and from Durham at his own leisure is something no person should do.  

Now that the government are happy to stand by a blatant liar, it makes it more and more difficult to accept or believe anything they say. In his conference briefing, Johnson states that 121 individuals have tragically lost their lives to the coronavirus. The graphs we’re shown, the statements we’re given and the advice we are instructed to follow is undermined when the government and its advisors are failing to follow its own advice. More than that, it’s a laughable notion to even take them seriously when they themselves cannot adhere to their own advice. 

“The only reason we can make so much progress is because this country has observed social distancing.” A genuine quote from the Prime Minister, on a day where hundreds of thousands flocked to beaches. It’s strange how quick people are to jump to the defence of Cummings, not just politicians but the public also. Those that believe the press are being too harsh on Cummings really don’t understand that the point of the press is to highlight wrongdoings from leaders and advisers. To not report that would be to ignore a news story, and like it or not, it is news.   

It’s becoming harder and harder to write these articles without swearing. Even worse is that I now come to the third draft of my article, and I’m very anxious that moments after I submit it to the editor, it’ll be completely outdated. Perhaps I’ll wake up tomorrow and the government will have collectively resigned, or maybe I’ll wake up to no government at all. The latter would be preferable. I’m not sure what’s worse, the government actions or the bootlicking of those that don’t know any better. Either way, they’re both to blame. 

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