The debate today is whether Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s Chief Advisor, should resign, or not. Whether he broke the lockdown rules, or even the law. Whether his trip was justified or if there was some perfidiousness behind it.
Mostly, they miss the vitally important point.
The same was true when Neil Ferguson – main author of the Imperial Model, and consequently the lockdown – was found to be breaking lockdown with his married girlfriend.
The press divided between the lockdown enthusiasts defending him, or the anti-lockdowners eagerly calling him a hypocrite.
Both, again, were missing the point.
Yes, it’s satisfying to cast people down for being hypocrites. Yes, it’s easy to conduct witchhunts based on shallow issues against people whose politics we disagree with. But to take part in the free-for-all is to endorse a distraction that actually reinforces the narrative, and misses the fundamentally more important issue at the root of it.
We’re all meant to be “sheltering in place” and “protecting the NHS” and “saving lives” because there is a “deadly virus”. We’re being told this is for our own safety. Because the virus is allegedly dangerous.
When the people giving us these orders do not follow them themselves, they are not showing themselves to be “hypocrites”. They are showing themselves to be liars. They are admitting they don’t really believe what they’re saying.
The best example is actually from the other side of the pond – Chris Cuomo, CNN anchor, brother of one New York governor and son of another.
When Cuomo was meant to be “self-isolating”, after allegedly getting infected, he was spotted by a cyclist socialising on the site where his new house is being built. (Days later, Cuomo made a big deal out of emerging from his basement as if he hadn’t seen his family in two weeks).
You don’t invite your married girlfriend round to your house, then send her back to her husband and children, if you really believe there’s a dangerous virus.