To most, I suspect this would be a very short article, and there would be a simple answer – utterly unacceptable and irresponsible behaviour. But for some people, things are not always categorised in “black or white” and there are grey areas. Is there an argument that this matter falls into the grey category?
If the question is taken from the perspective of Cummings as a parent, then perhaps you could say that his behaviour was certainly understandable, though not necessarily acceptable? You could argue that he acted responsibly in not putting anyone at risk by isolating remotely on his parents’ farm. He took his child to hospital, which is what a concerned parent would instinctually do with a sick child. However, the whole point of lockdown is not to spread the virus, and he was potentially exporting it from London to a rural hospital in the North East.
As an inner member of the group of people who run the country or certainly someone who heavily influences the running of the country, his behaviour is clearly unacceptable. He is an intelligent person and would have been aware that his activity would be under scrutiny. It appears that he made the decision to drive to Durham (a long drive) quite spontaneously. Did he really think through the consequences? Perhaps he underestimated the level of vitriol that would be created social media, and to a certain extent whipped up by the media itself. I never like to read nasty comments that portray hatred towards someone people do not even know.
Personally, I prefer humour as a way of ridicule. For those that play golf you might appreciate this joke, and for those that don’t, I apologise in advance. Golfers like to invent terms or names to describe certain golf shots, and the latest one is called a “Cummings” – a long drive, but out of bounds.
Another spin off from this affair has been the creation of a new PlayStation game featuring a drive to Barnard Castle which for me was the element of the explanation that appeared the least credible.
I watched news footage of press photographers camped outside Cummings house, and the scrum which ensued when he appeared at his door. Not only was there a complete lack of social distancing, the cameramen were literally on top of one another in a tight huddle. This was completely irresponsible behaviour. That saddened me, but again if you felt so inclined, you can also blame Cummings for this, as his actions indirectly led to the intense media speculation.
There are no winners from this affair, and although it looks as if Cummings might hang on to his job, the brand damage that it has done to his boss and the Government as whole is likely to take a long time to repair.