After growing anger has seen the public and tory MPs alike call for the sacking of Cummings over his lockdown trip to Durham, today we saw the government's Chief Special Advisor tell his side of the story. Whilst Cummings will have hoped to end the media flurry which he claims has hounded him over the past few days, it seems he has created more questions than he answered.
That Petrol Stop
After originally claiming that he hadn’t stopped during his initial journey to Durham or the return, Cummings conceded during questioning from the press that he had stopped at a petrol station to fill up the car tank during the return journey. However, he revealed this with evident reluctance, claiming that he was 95% sure that he stopped for petrol. How can you not remember whether you stopped for petrol?
Upon being questioned about the privilege of travelling to what was essentially a second house, Cummings replied that the building on his father’s private land was ‘ not a very nice house- its made of concrete blocks’. This showed total contempt for the working-class people keeping the country afloat during the pandemic, some of whom are stuck in high rise flats without the privilege of access to a second house- and in a lot of cases a garden- never mind the private woodland Cummings had at his disposal.
Fit for Work
It seems Cummings has accidentally revealed he infringed government guidelines on more than one occasion, after noting that he returned to work after going home to check in on his wife, who was showing symptoms. Why return to Whitehall after being in such close proximity with someone who, as far as he knew, had coronavirus?
Cummings deflected many questions asked of him by diverting blame towards the negative influence of the media when depicting the events that took place. Yet since the story first broke he has refused to reveal any information on his trip until today, naturally leading to speculation about his journey from the press. Why didn’t he give a response earlier in order to quash these claims and prevent a media storm? Perhaps that’s a question for the Government’s PR strategists (if they haven't already been fired.)
After travelling to Castle Barnard, roughly a 40 minute journey, like any normal four year olds his son required a toilet stop, leading the family to take a break at a woodland. Given that the family had to stop once during the 40-minute return journey from Barnard Castle, can we reasonably expect that the family didn’t make a single stop for a toilet break during the five hour return journey?
Cummings explained that his usual childcare options weren’t available, but failed to explain what forms these took, or why they were no longer accesssible. He also failed to acknowlege that his actions were the result of privilege, given that working class or single parents haven't been able to access childcare during lockdown if they are to fall ill. He also claimed that he was unable to remain in London due to a lack of childcare for his son, which led him and his family to travel to Durham. However, he mentioned later in the press conference that when he returned to London he was able to arrange childcare. What changed re childcare between March 27th and April 13th ?
Another key question is why the press conference was delayed in the first place. Three minutes is acceptable, but half an hour with no explanation? It brings up some serious questions around what was being said in number 10 during the half hour postponement. Was it a deliberate move to try and reduce viewing numbers as much as possible? We will probably never know.
An Unsafe House
One of Cumming’s key reasons for leaving his London home in the first place was angry critics gathering outside the house, which is something he mentioned repeatedly as a reasoning for leaving. Why, then, did he believe it was any safer to return when he did than when he left?
That klaxon noise ?
Seriously, what was going on with that noise? Was it a protester that could be heard from beyond the gates of number 10? A distraction tactic from the Tories in a conspiracy to draw our ears elsewhere?
Should’ve gone to Specsavers
Worried about his eyesight, Cummings thought it was appropriate to take an hour round drive to local beauty spot Barnard Castle. The question is, if his eyesight was potentially compromised, why would he take his wife -and most importantly his four-year-old son- with him in the car?
Immediately after the press questions ended, the BBC newsroom facilitated discussion between two commentators on the situation, both of who were advisors to ex tory Prime Ministers. After two very un-scathing accounts of Cumming’s performance by the speakers, can we expect this to fan the flames over accusations of BBC bias?
Whilst some Conservative MPs have announced they are satisfied with his reporting of events, the same probably can't be said of the general public. Cummings still needs to apologise, and he needs to add the working class and single parents to his list.