Incredibly, Dominic Cummings and his charge, Boris Johnson, the putative Prime Minister, still have their defenders. My own MP here in Broxtowe, Darren Henry, slavishly trotted out the party line he’d been given following a Zoom conference for backbench grunts yesterday. As anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the gutless, near-invisible and entirely useless Henry might imagine, he fell unquestioningly into line behind Cummings. As instructed by his party capos. If an independent thought ever found its way into the seemingly infinite chasm that exists between Henry’s ears it would surely die of loneliness. Emily Maitlis he is not. Which is not a particularly high bar.
Readers may recall the temporarily embarrassed Newsnight host enthusiastically leading a charge against Jeremy Corbyn, set against a mocked-up background of the Kremlin; all lurid reds and agitprop imagery, in an infamous episode of the BBC’s current affairs program. Ridiculously, even the cap Corbyn had sported in the image had been altered to emphasise its Lenin-like qualities. To no one’s surprise, such treatment of the Leader of the Opposition breached no BBC impartiality rules. Unlike Maitlis’s opening monologue addressing the Cummings affair, which drew the fire of the government and resulted in her replacement by the, one presumes, Tory-approved Katie Razzall.
So far so predictable. Less understandable, however, are the strident defenders of Cummings amongst the wider public. As if we should all just uncomplainingly accept this ongoing clown car-crash of hubris, criminal negligence and staggering incompetence. It is, apparently, time to move on.
Any democracy worth a damn, even the tawdry, patronage-ridden, class-dominated embarrassment that is Britain, needs a questioning and fearless press to speak truth to power and hold governments to account.
That anyone could be indignant at the toothless, Tory-dominated public relations courtiers that pass for real journalists in this servile nation is just another mark of how low we’ve sunk; how little we value ourselves and how eagerly we kiss the boots that kick us.
It isn’t the job of real journalists to uncritically relay government press releases. It isn’t their job to be sycophantic cheerleaders for the establishment. It is their job to unflinchingly tell the truth to the public. That a rare example of a British broadcast journalist doing just that can excite such ire is an appalling indictment of us all. We are kittens led by donkeys. The furious public backlash against Cummings and Johnson, however, points to our capacity to become lions. Given the next four years will see the establishment seek to recoup their recent losses and balance the books on the backs of the rest of us, that feline metamorphosis now assumes even greater urgency.