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The Sick Nation and Its Healing?

The Sick Nation and it’s Healing

‘If you’re someone who was sitting at home watching a lot of the media over the last three days, then I think lots of people would be very angry.’

 The United Kingdom is sick. Over 260,000 people have been diagnosed with Covid 19 (probably the real figure is many times that) and over 37,000 have died with this virus. The economy has been crippled; people have been locked down; fear, anger and depression stalk the land. And there are the physical consequences – there will be many empty seats in homes because of the deaths – effects that will be felt for a lifetime. It will take years for the economic and physical consequences to be overcome and perhaps even longer for the psychological and mental effects to be healed.   But the United Kingdom will recover from this.

But the UK is sick in another way. This forcibly struck me this morning as I listened to the BBC news (it was 10pm in the UK) – half of which was taken up by the Dominic Cummings story.   As I indicated yesterday I have found the whole story profoundly depressing – regarding it as at best a meaningless expression of the kind of hysteria that can sometimes overtake a nation.   I thought it was a temporary blip that would soon be over – but now I am not so sure. I think this story is important (not because of the story itself) but because of what it reveals about the state of British society at this moment in time – and indeed the state of the Church. It’s not just that there is something rotten in the state of the UK – it is a cancer that is in deep and I don’t think this one will come out just by ordinary means.

What Happened?

The story itself is fairly straightforward – Dominic Cummings is a senior government advisor (some think Boris Johnson’s right hand man) who is considered a Machiavellian evil genius by some.   He ran the successful Brexit campaign and did the same for Boris Johnson’s election campaign. He is noted for despising the Westminster system and the media – who in turn despise him back – with a hatred that is visceral. If you read the tweets of Tony Blair’s former spin-doctor Alistair Campbell, or Piers Morgan you can feel the obsessive hate. Cummings has powerful enemies everywhere – not least the editor of The Daily Mail. I have no real idea about Cummings – I have no idea if what they write about him is true. I have long ago stopped believing what the ‘experts’ in the media write. With the current politicisation of everything (at lest partly due to our following America in its tribalism of everything), the decline in any concept of truth as an absolute, and the necessity of click bait journalism in order to generate hits – I find that it is not just stories on social media I have to check but stories in the mainstream media. So often these stories are repeated as gospel truth by politicians and commentators and quickly pass into the ‘everyone knows’ category (and if you don’t you’re an idiot or a ‘denier’ or a fascist).   For example as regards Cummings – everyone ‘knows that he argued against lockdown because he wanted to let the old people die of in order to save the economy. Except what everyone knows is wrong. It was precisely the opposite. But whilst truth is getting its boots on, a lie has winged round the world – and become permanently fixed in the folklore of the ‘please tell me what I want to hear’ algorithms of the Internet.

The Cummings Story

I don’t want to go into the Cummings story. Because I don’t want to make this a defence of what he did or didn’t do. At one level that doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the reaction to the perception of what he did and what that reveals about the UK today. But I guess the background doesn’t make sense without knowing something of the foreground. So let me list the simple facts.

On the 27th of March – because his wife was sick and he did not feel well and they had a four year old child Cummings decided, without telling the Prime Minister, to head to his parents home in the North East, where he and his wife would self isolate in a separate cottage whilst his sister and two teenage nieces (who had another cottage) could look after their son if necessary. Cummings states that he was concerned because in his London home he was being threatened, abused and posts on social media were calling for him to be attacked (if you doubt this could happen look at the footage of the mob outside his house yesterday).   The nearest homes to the family ones are more than half a mile away.   Cummings says he drove all the way to Durham at midnight without stopping.(You can read his full statement and the questionshere).

He and his wife were ill so he did not return. His son got so ill that on the 2nd of April he was taken to hospital. Cummings states that other than going to pick up his son from hospital he did not leave the grounds of the house. On Sunday the 12th of April Cummings was recovered enough to return to London but he and his wife drove 30 miles to Barnard castle. He says he did not visit the castle – you can again read the details in his statement. On Monday the 13th of April he returned to London.

The media have reported that he went back to Durham after this. That report has turned out to be a lie. As were reports that he attended his uncle’s funeral.

That is the substance of the story. A man travels overnight to stay, self-isolated, with his family, in a house where they had no contact with other people. It is clear from that they put no one’s life in danger.   You could argue that he should have stayed in London and faced the mob.   Some have attempted to argue that he broke the law – but the police (at the time) did not think so. He was not questioned nor charged.   Cummings argues that he was following the guidelines given out by the government’s chief medical officer on the 24th of March that said parents who are ill and may not be able to look after a child created “exceptional circumstances” where family members could be called upon to help.

Brendan O’Neill sums up the problem with the Mail/Guardian/National/Mirror/Observer story –

The media’s Dominic Cummings story has completely collapsed. He did NOT go to Durham a second time, which was reported on the front page of the Sunday Mirror and the Observer. He did NOT have any physical contact with family members. The police did NOT talk to the Cummings family about the Covid lockdown guidelines. Cummings did NOT carry on doing things that everyone else had stopped doing — he even missed the funeral of his uncle who died from Covid. He did NOT leave his London home for leisure reasons — he left it because he was receiving death threats as a result of media demonisation. He was very ill, his wife was ill, and at one point his child was taken to hospital in an ambulance in Durham. His family has had a really rough time and the media have told lie after lie about him. The scandal is not Cummings’ behaviour — it is the collapse of ethics and objectivity in the British media.

On the other hand you could also say that Cummings is lying and in his arrogance thinks he can get away with it. And you may be right.  Because I believe the Bible and I know human nature – nothing would surprise me.   I’m intrigued by those who think in this postmodern world that any politician who lies should resign.  By that standard would anyone be left?!

My position is simple. I don’t know.   And the point is that neither do you.   I’m not prepared to act as judge, jury and executioner on a matter that I do not and cannot know. I will believe what people say until I have reason to think otherwise.   The trouble is that each of us seems to follow the Manic Street Preachers in saying “this is my truth, tell me yours’. We select our ‘truths’ according to what we want to be true. Surely we should have little more humility.   Have you ever noticed how it is often those who cry out ‘do not judge’, who are the most judgemental?

The Reaction and the Witch-hunt

 Why has this turned into such a major story?   It’s partly because of the frustration and pent up anger in the country – you can only keep people locked down for so long. It’s partly because of the populism and feeling that there is one rule for the rich and another for the rest.   That feeling is to some degree true – rich people like Piers Morgan (and Dominic Cummings)  don’t have to worry about not having a garden to play in!   Lockdowns and economic collapse are always harder for the poor – which is why again you see the rich being the ones who argue most passionately for them!   But I think this has largely been orchestrated by those who just see a great opportunity to get rid of their bête noir. I have been reading Hilary Mantel’s brilliant The Mirror and the Light which charts the rise and demise of Thomas Cromwell.   Like Cummings he was regarded as a king maker with too much power, and so like Cummings, the establishment had to bring him down.

Now whether this analysis is correct or not, I think that this incident has spotlighted what is wrong within the UK at the moment. For the sake of brevity I will only give one example from each area – but these could be multiplied many times. For the sake of balance I should also point out that there are exceptions in each of these areas – where people have refused to get caught up in the mob mentality and have behaved with a degree of decorum and dignity. But sadly they are exceptions.

The Politicians

Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat leader, stated that this incident means that Boris Johnson is not fit to lead the country.   That is the level of hyperbole and lack of perspective that infects our political classes.

The Professors

Professor Stephen Reicher, professor of psychology at the University of St Andrews, says that if Cummings stays in post ‘more people will die’. Again the hyperbole and lack of perspective is stunning. If I was asked by my parents to travel to the Highlands of Scotland because they needed help – I would absolutely do so. And in employing the normal WHO guidelines of social distancing, hand washing etc. I have no doubt at all that I would not be risking lives.   In fact it could be that the hysteria and fear engendered by people like Professor Reicher is what really costs lives. In refusing to treat us like adults and instead seeking to control us by putting the fear of Covid into us – they have ensured that thousands of people will not seek treatment for their cancer (and other serious illnesses) because they want to save the NHS. Meanwhile Professor Reicher is remarkably silent about a policy that the First Minister admits has cost lives – that of transferring elderly patients from hospitals to care homes – without testing.   Why?

The Prelates

The Bishop of Manchester offered this gem –

https://twitter.com/BBCPolitics/status/1264878923571179521?s=20

Screenshot 2020-05-26 17.46.18We need rules, virtues, values and guidelines.”    He, and several of his other bishops really stuck the boot into Cummings and the Prime Minister. They were ‘stunned’, ‘shocked’ etc. They delighted in pointing out this political sin. But what stunned me was the deafening silence from these same bishops when it came to the UK parliament imposing abortion on Northern Ireland.   They are horrified at the sin of a man seeking to look after his child, but can turn a blind eye to thousands of babies being killed

Just as astonishing is the Bishops definition of religion as rules, virtues, values and guidelines. That IS religion. The kind of religion that got Christ crucified. There is nothing about grace, compassion and forgiveness. Some of the bishops in England are the equivalent of the Pharisees in Jesus’s day.

But it’s not just the bishops – I have watched with astonishment as fellow clergy have jumped on the bandwagon – crying out for blood.   And its not just the clergy – otherwise sane and lovely Christians have been sneering, mocking, joining the mob, congratulating themselves that they are on the right side and yelling at others for daring to disagree. It’s ugly.

The Press

Screenshot 2020-05-26 17.35.30It has become very difficult to distinguish between what used to be called the gutter press and the ‘qualities’ – as the Guardian, Independent, and Times etc. compete to join each other in the gutter. Two examples from this current farce stand out – the Channel 4 journalist (and her colleagues from the rest of the media) squawking and yelling at Cummings for breaking the rules whilst themselves breaking the rules in a press scrum outside his house.   Then the editor of The Daily Mail inciting yet another lynch mob (this time not against immigrants). He sees the opportunity to get rid of someone he loathes and so he is taking it.   And people join in. I am astounded at the number of people I know who usually regard anyone who cites the Daily Mail as from the Dark Side, now citing it with glee

The Police

The purpose of police is to enforce the law – not to make it, not to interpret it – but just to enforce it. The police are not there to tell us what or how to think. They are there to enforce the law – without fear nor favour. The police like the law should not be subject to political or mob pressure.   In my view police should also operate with a degree of common sense. I remember once being pulled over for something and the police officer took a look at me and ended up giving me a warning rather than fining me.   I learned my lesson.   In the past 24 hours I have challenged those who said to me ‘he broke the law’ – to explain why if he broke the law, the police have not charged him or even warned him.   But we have moved to a world where ‘breaking the law’ is now determined by Piers Morgan, politicians and social media – rather than police, courts and judges.

But there is another disturbing aspect to this. The police had done, and were going to do nothing. But now considerable pressure will come upon the Chief Constable of Durham to initiate an ‘inquiry’.  Watch this space. If the mob shouts loud enough the police may act. The chief constables too have to signal their virtue.

The Plebes

The plebes in ancient Rome were the common people.   It’s amazing how so many of the groups above say they are speaking for ‘the people’. A friend from Dundee wrote me last night and said that the Cummings story was hardly the talk of the ‘steamie’ or the pub! But no – our politicians, press and clergy all say they are speaking for ‘the people’.     No-one of course speaks for the people because the people have many different voices and views. With one exception. When the people become the mob – then they speak with one voice. An angry one. An outraged one.     Sadly many of the people have been manipulated into becoming that mob – especially (but not solely) on social media.

We have been encouraged to behave like East Germans in the time of the Stasi- reporting on our neighbours.   We think it’s ok to yell at people if they don’t wear facemasks.   We think we are justified in calling people ‘killers’ if they go outside more than once per day.   We have become a nation of snoopers and, as they say in Oz, dobbers.   And of course we are hypocrites. According to a survey I read last week 27% of people have already broken lockdown rules. In a free country it was always going to be impossible to enforce a tight lockdown for a longer period. In the short term you can do it through an appeal to virtue and instilling fear. But after weeks anger, depression and frustration will come to the boil. And that’s why our leaders and opinion formers are playing with fire when they stir up the mob with their inflammatory, hateful and exaggerated language.

Cummings was surely correct when he said this in his statement:

‘If you’re someone who was sitting at home watching a lot of the media over the last three days, then I think lots of people would be very angry.’

In the 16th Century when people formed mobs to kill the witches – they were genuinely afraid. They believed that there were witches who were making their children sick and killing their cattle.   Round up a couple of not very popular ‘strange’ women and you have your scapegoat. They must be sacrificed for the good of the community.  In the 21st Century we have our own versions of witch burning. We have our own witch finders. And we have our own polemicists who stir up the people with 24/7 zeal.

Watching the mob outside Cummings house I wondered when someone was going to hand out the pitchforks. Listening to the visceral anger on social media, I suddenly found myself switching from thinking that he probably had done something against the guidelines (but not deserving sacking) to thinking I would have done exactly the same thing. He said he didn’t care what people thought he was going to do the ‘right thing’.   I now admire that.

Look Back in Anger

There was something last night that really struck me on the Australian media. A correspondent from the UK was asked whether Cummings would have to go. His response – it will be depend on the level of anger.   I think that is true. And chilling.   Morgan, Campbell, Blackford and others know this – and they know that they need to keep the anger going. One man wrote and said that Tory MPs would end up forcing Boris to thrown Cummings out because of the letters they would get. But many of these letters are not ‘spontaneous’ outbursts of the people’s anger. They are manufactured letters of a manufactured anger.   For example even as I write I have received a tweet from an SNP politician encouraging me to write to my MP (especially if they are Tory). Alaister Campbell has just tweeted out how to do this. Other people write and tell me that I don’t understand the ‘will of the British people’ – which of course they do. I tend to think that anyone who says they are ‘speaking for the people’ is living in a fantasy world or displaying a frightening degree of arrogance. I struggle to speak for my own family – never mind anyone else!

At a personal level I have spent sleepless nights at times wondering why people can express so much hatred on social media. But Cummings has had that a thousand times over, combined with people threatening violence and a mob yelling at his house – with his family inside. Under the same circumstances I would have got out. This atmosphere of hatred, vitriol and abuse doesn’t just end with words. It will end with violence.   Which is why it is so astonishing to see otherwise sensible people joining in. But that is the mob mentality.   It’s more infectious than Covid.

And it infects Christians. Even today one Christian brother wrote me to tell me how a clergyman has defriended him because they didn’t agree about Cummings. There was an old chorus – ‘who is on the Lord’s side? Who will serve the King?’.   I fear that for some Christians it’s more important for them to know which political tribe you belong to – rather than what your view of Christ is!

An Apology

 I too have been guilty of being caught up in this kind of thinking which rejoices in the fall of others. When Catherine Calderwood, the Chief Medical Officer of Scotland, resigned because of her visits to her second home – despite her own guidelines – I thought that was right. But now, even though I think her case is different from Cummings I don’t believe that Nicola Sturgeon should have given into the public pressure. It too was a form of mob rule. I think the rules are ridiculous but nonetheless they should be abided by.   But I also think that if someone like Calderwood is doing a good job she should have been rapped over the knuckles, apologised and been allowed to continue.   I allowed my political opinion (I didn’t like what the Scottish government was doing), and a sense of schaedenfreude, to overcome rationality, compassion and a sense of perspective.   When I read Cummings story it just struck me that Calderwood also has a story – which I didn’t know. I was too quick to rush into judgement.   I was wrong.  And I am ashamed of that. My only consolation is that I work on the assumption that I am often wrong and the Lord is even more often forgiving!

From Sickness to Salvation.

Is there any solution to all of this?   I think there is. But not if we continue the route we are on. We cannot save ourselves from ourselves. Humanity is the problem not the solution.

The Bible tells us that sin is a reproach to any people, but righteousness exalts a nation. (Proverbs 14:34).   We need that righteousness. We need the biblical concepts of grace, law, justice, mercy, love, tolerance, equality, humanity, perspective, rationality and peace.   Or we will end with precisely the opposite. We are heading towards being a graceless, lawless, unjust, merciless, hateful, intolerant, unequal, inhumane, distorted, irrational and warring tribalistic society.

Where can we get these positive biblical concepts? Education may help, the law may restrain, the politicians may rule. But at the end of the day the only way this will come is through the One who is the root of all these things. Christ is grace. Christ is just. Christ is merciful. Christ is love. Christ is tolerant. Christ is human. Christ brings equality. Christ gives perspective. Christ is the Logos. Christ is peace.

What the United Kingdom needs is not a return to Christendom, or Christian values, or Western civilisation, but a return to the One who all of that is built on. You can’t have Christian civilisation without Christ. Which is why those who profess to be Christians (and especially those of us who are Christian preachers/leaders) need to be less passionate about rebuking the government (or whatever tribe we don’t like) for their political sins – and instead start telling them all about the Christ who is – not the one we take along as a back up for our positions.  And maybe, just maybe, we should do what Jesus did and start with the plebes – the common people. They received him gladly. Whilst we shouldn’t neglect the press, the politicians, the police, the prelates and the professors…we will go to the people first.

The church should reject the spiritual trickle down theory which seems to have become our modus operandi, (get the influencers, the wealthy, the ‘gatekeepers’ first and then we will be able to reach the poor).   Maybe we should reprioritise? Maybe we should become populists- reaching the populace first – before the powerful?   Then the world will truly be turned upside down.

This is my dream…my ambition….to glorify Christ, to proclaim Christ and in so doing to preach the good news to the poor and see the world being saved!   Let us give up our small ambitions, our petty politics and our self obsessed greeds and instead lets go for Glory!

David Robertson

Sydney May 26th 2020

Quantum 95 – Ravi; Owen Jones; Cambridge Uni; Australian Premiers; China; President of Ghana; Islamic Call to Prayer; McDonalds; Russell Brand; and Runrig

 

 

 

 

46 comments

  1. A note about your title, David. If the title is intended to say that the nation is now healing, then your title is correct, but if it’s intended to indicate the way that it can be healed – which seems to be the case – then the word ‘it’s’ in the title should not have an apostrophe, it should be ‘its’. I suggest you change it to say ‘The Sick Nation and How it Can be Healed’. I don’t usually point out your ‘apostrophical’ errors but this time it makes a huge difference to the title’s meaning.

  2. Interesting thoughts, but it obvious that the leftys want him out at all costs, it’s nothing to do with breaking lockdown rules – it’s because he is mastermind behind Brexit, and they want rid of him by fair means or foul. Seems it’s OK for the snp Ian Blackford to break lockdown rules 3 days after the 23rd March when he travelled from London to Skye. I rest my case.

  3. Thank you, David, spot on analysis. I’ve spent 3 days defending Cummings‘ decisions as a parent against hostile demands for his head including from some Christians. You couldn’t squeeze an ounce of compassion for his child from their comments.
    I find Bishops an embarrassment and wish they would listen to Tom Holland’s article in The Telegraph telling them to stick to their remit of revealing the Kingdom.
    Please keep up your honesty.

  4. The press hounding him and breaking all the social distancing rules is obviously wrong. I think I was just looking for some form of apology, that he could have made a better judgement. That he went onto to say that his work is making judgements on our behalf, did not fill me with confidence. AT least the others who resigned did apologise.

  5. Totally spot on. Sadly many in the UK still believe all they read and hear in the mainstream media. How the BBC has fallen far away from from the principles of its founder nearly 100 years ago. Maybe our society is getting the media it deserves!

  6. Thank you David for providing some sanity and truth and justice into the situation! Excellent review!
    We have been appalled by the press reaction and it is so indicative of their desire to silence the man who helped mastermind the defeat of the liberal elites in 2 elections!
    Wonderful Jesus is truly the answer to all our situations and life issues Let us indeed worship Him , serve Him and PROCLAIM Him His Grace be with you !

  7. Hi,I have to apologise ,for some peculiar reason some laughter comes from within and I laugh a little ….
    Probably because all of us humans are capable of self interest as Robert says he knows ,’ The Bible and human nature ‘,again I laugh but not at Death but about respecting authority and in this case there has been none excersised !In fact if you watch what Cummmimgs does at the end of his garden sharing at the table with a glass of water …..he chucks it down at the end and walks off !
    So there you have it human nature declaring its ugly head ,take it or leave it !!!!
    Jesus knows what we are all capable off in our selfish wants and desires .Quote : Take up your cross and follow me ….then a change can occur in self but until then we ,Cummings ,will do what we want….a trip to the castle but don’t go in !! It’s funny …….Gillian

  8. Thanking you, and the Lord for the communication skills that He has entrusted to you, for what I view as your clear, fair, balanced and well reasoned if passionate take on the issues raised by the response to the news breaking regarding Cummings’ trip to Durham. I doubt that any contrary opinions expressed in response will be anywhere near as well argued and dignified as your piece. May you be emotionally protected from the hate storm on social media of the twitterati that will doubtless follow.

  9. David, in your reply on your previous page to my comment you made a few points. The option to reply there is not available so I shall engage with them here.

    You say “not all palpable anger is mob” I agree and this was the point I wanted to put across.

    You say “You don’t need to say ‘with respect’ – I assume that!” OK – point noted I was doing that to be polite but, as you wish – it’s your blog. ”

    “I get no less information about the UK here than I did in Dundee!” OK but my point wan’t made in reference to the amount of information available to you, it was about the distance you have to being amongst it and an offer that this could be influencing your approach.

    “Maybe its best for you not to judge others people’s sensitivity or not on the Internet? You really don’t have a clue what I go through…and I would suggest its best not to judge on that basis.” I agree, therefore I didn’t make a claim that you were being unwise or pastoraly insensitive, what I did was say I was not sure about this. It’s OK to doubt and question.

    “If you wish to contradict what I say then provide some evidence….not just how people feel. On the Internet somewhere every second there is someone being offended because someone somewhere wrote something that was ‘insensitive to their need’.” Yes I did express feeling offended on reading your previous article and I readily admitted that you could claim the offence I feel is the “offence of the gospel” and in essence this by my sin that I need to repent of to be appropriately “in Christ” and your response is not inconsistent with a claim of such.

    So, now we have both got that off our chest, how about we look at the truth? Cummings did drive when his wife was unwell and he had concerns about being unwell and care for his child. He implies a claim of this to be an “exception” to the lock-down rules in the clip you have provided and with Boris supporting him claiming this is instinctively what a father would do. OK – that’s one side of the argument.

    At the same time he did drive when the government directive was to “stay at home”. So it is then reasonable, is it not to question are there some rules for some and not for others?

    I don’t advocate witch hunting in any form whatsoever. And in principle would support being obedient to leaders. So the evidence is there in the video you have provided. Cummings regarded this an exception.

    OK what now? Surely if it’s valid for one person to have an exception, isn’t that valid for all? And if that is valid for all then what of the government directives on lockdown?

    Feeling offended as you rightly imply can be to take offence inappropriately and it’s right that this be addressed if that is the case. But neither am I convinced that it is such a cut and died “witch hunt” that Cummings is experiencing.

    Would I do the same as Cummings if I were in his situation. No doubt I would be tempted, just as I and many others are tempted to claim exceptions. And as mentioned, pictures coming form beaches in the UK show blatant disregard for distancing, so this is not something particular to Cummings.

    Would I then act according to my “instinct” independently of government direction? I don’t know. I suppose if there were enough evidence to suggest the government were somehow significantly off track in this, maybe. But I cannot tell for sure what I would do in Cumming’s place.

    “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
    ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956

    1. Exceptions by definition are exceptions. To state that they must be for all makes no sense. But yes – just as Ian Blackford had an exception to travel back from Westminster to London, I would have an exception to get childcare. Of course the rules are ridiculous anyway.

      You may not think it is a witch-hunt – anyone watching the mob rule over the past few days will I suspect differ.

  10. Reminds me of the time David Beckham was regarded as Public Enemy Number 1 when he kicked the Argentinian during the World Cup.

    The English love a scapegoat and there will always be a ‘rag’ like the Daily Mail to offer wonderful and inciteful journalism (sic)

    SMH.

    Ark.

  11. I totally agree with what you are saying, although I think if we watch to much news we are in danger of focussing on the negatives. There have been a tremendous amount of positives; communities coming together to help the vulnerable, homeless people being housed, recognition of nurses and key workers, more unchurched watching live services, acts of random kindness. People in general having time to think about their priorities and the important things in life. It’s a shame the media don’t concentrate on these things instead of sensationalist events that help nobody.
    Your right, we need to show Christ to our friends, families and communities at our level. And continue to pray for our leaders and nation.

  12. A random one, but the Manics’ album title is itself a quote, from a speech by Aneurin Bevan…

  13. As usual, you make some good points and flag up a real issue facing Scotland today.
    An award winning journalist in Scotland’s Herald newspaper stated “Cummings reminds me of a vomit stain on my clothes……” I despair when one man, made in God’s image and likeness, says such things about another man, made in that same image and likeness.
    Unlike you, I have made a judgement on the matter. My view is that the Prime Minister should have asked for Mr Cumming’s resignation and if it was not forthcoming, he should have dismissed him. The same judgement I made of Scotland’s First Minister when she backed her scientific adviser, who subsequently resigned.
    However, the journalist’s choice of words highlights the serious issue to which you refer. Particularly as earlier in his piece he cites “even bishops..” whom he believes are on board with his views.
    For me the answer lies in the online sermon from the Minister in Bishopbriggs Free Church, last Sunday morning. He used Revelations 4 to remind us that God is on his throne. He also appears to be the type of man who would never speak of another human being in the way the Herald’s columnist has.
    In His own time God will intervene and bring His people back to His way. He might use Free Church Ministers, then again, He might even decide to use journalists.

    God bless

  14. Dear David,

    This may be of interest you to about “Brighton’s reverend Martin Poole… Poole said he challenged Hancock because he felt it was unfair some had faced fines when Cummings’ trip was deemed to be “exceptional”” under the headline “Government Will ‘Look At’ Scrapping Lockdown Fines For Families Seeking Childcare”

    Kind Regards,

    Adam

  15. It would have been much better if the government had said from the start: yes, Mr Cummings broke the rules as we set them out but that’s not a reason to sack him.
    The worst part of the story to me is hearing government ministers one after another since the story broke, saying: ‘he didn’t break the rules.’ They have lost any moral authority to impose continued lockdown measures. It’s a very sad day for our country.
    Thank you, as ever for pointing us to Jesus!

      1. I’m not entirely sure what the law is around this while area – that’s why I said he broke the rules as we all understood them. My point is, it would have been so much better for us all if the government admitted this and moved on.

  16. You are right that these are four sick nations, both medically and spiritually. You are right also to express unease at the reaction to the Cummings story, the paroxysms of hatred and anger displayed. It leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. It is unpleasant. It scours the back.

    I think you are missing something important in saying that this as just a witch hunt of self-righteousness by the sort of people you don’t like, bishops, professors and politicians you do not agree with. If you were in Dundee, rather than on the other side of the world, you would perhaps have been readier to heed what those such as Adam Julians, Matthew and Karen Watson were voicing in response to your ‘Letter from Australia’ yesterday.

    The anger people who have accepted lockdown, lived with its limitations and in many cases lost relatives to this horrible virus, feel here towards the Westminster administration over these revelations may be unpleasant, but it is genuine and understandable. The sense of arrogant entitlement, the assumption that ‘you’ve had to obey the rules but they don’t apply to us’ and the readiness of the other members of the government to defend the indefensible really has got up the public’s nose. Even if there might be arguments that a clever defence lawyer might’s to get a client off a conviction, by any standards they would be pilpul defences, and we all know it. He broke the rules as everyone understood them to be. Driving his wife 270 miles while she was actually suffering from Covid was indefensible. His developing the disease himself the next day illustrates why. If Mr Cummings had said something like, ‘I know we shouldn’t really have done this, but under the pressure of our circumstances, my wife and I panicked. I’m sorry’, many of us might have been willing to extend to him a bit of sympathy. However, he has not said that. It is too late now.

    It is good that some, like you, of those leaping to his defence are motivated by charity and generosity. Nevertheless, and I regret having to say this, many, possibly most, of them are little more than examples of ‘our boys syndrome’.

    Are you familiar with this term? It may come from the Northern Irish Troubles. It is, though, so prevalent and easy to fall into that it could well be older. To summarise, both the Unionist and Nationalist communities readily, understandably and rightly, accused the various IRAs and the UDA respectively of being terrorists. Yet respectable Protestants and Catholics, who would not dream of doing such things themselves, would respond to accusations that their own side’s men of violence were likewise terrorists with the reaction, ‘No, of course not. True, they may go a bit too far sometimes, but they’re much provoked, Terrorists, no. They can’t be, they’re our boys not theirs’.

    You can see examples of this not just in the excuses put up by members of the cabinet but in some of the responses to your post today, such as those of Myra Brauer and Peter Mattacola.

    I would feel uncomfortable commenting from outside on the legitimacy and moral calibre of peoples’ emotional and spiritual reactions to the way states and federal administrations in Australia have been conducting themselves during the pandemic.

    I realise you do not like her, but many of us in England are both envious and impressed when we see how much better Scotland generally has been administered over the last twenty years than England is, and how much better Ms Sturgeon has managed the Scottish response to the pandemic than the tardy incompetence exhibited by the undevolved administration from which we suffer here.

    1. I’m afraid that I don’t buy this ‘you are wrong, keep quiet because you are on the other side of the world’. I get as much news, have as many contacts here in Sydney as I did in Dundee. Eventually that will change – but not yet. The world is global. It all depends who you listen to. I try to read a wide variety of media, have numerous political and journalistic contacts and above all thousands of ‘followers’ and many friends who pass on information – from many different perspectives.

      The sense of ‘you have to obey the rules but they don’t apply to us’ is the question. You put it in quotes as though this were a position people were saying. But in this case I have not found anyone saying it. So in reality you are encouraging a witch-hunt based on feeling rather than fact. You have already decided that something is indefensible…so argument over. Anyone who disagrees with you is a liar or foolish or a foreigner who doesn’t understand.

      Did you actually read his statement? Are you seriously saying that you would have done anything different?

      You say you would ‘feel uncomfortable commenting from the outside’ – yet that is precisely what you are doing. You have no more information than I on what happened with Dominic Cummings but you feel very free to comment, judge and condemn.

      And how ironic that just after boasting you would not comment from outside – you comment from outside about how well Scotland has been governed under Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon. You have no idea – but you still feel free to comment on something you know nothing about – based on your personal feelings and politics! A bit like your post on this issue…

      1. Well, I’m one person who genuinely feels that sense of: one rule for them and another for us.

    2. Thanks for your support PsalmsAndPsimilar.

      I suppose it’s a matter of discerning to what degree this anger is akin to “holy discontent” and to what degree the anger of a lynch mob. Of course in extreme emotions the realistic can be perceived as unrealistic and the unrealistic perceived as realistic. So as you rightly imply David, offence should not be the only thing to determine choices in engagement. There’s a reason for the directive, “be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” Eph 4:26.

      I’m grateful for one or two people in my life who give me the freedom to rant at times and disperse anger I have rather than to hold it within. Depression is anger without enthusiasm and not managing anger healthily is setting things up for something worse later on and I am more at peace now than when I express offence before.

      I was glad to read of reverend Martin Poole yesterday challenging Hancock to scrap fines during lockdown for families seeking childcare. It seems, does it not, of this being an example of Christian influence for good in challenging the government?

  17. Thanks very much for this article David – you really made me think and re-evaluate. I don’t have a TV and rarely listen to the radio as I find the news too honed to be true but what little I picked up on this, I must confess I thought the man had done a wrong thing – I was unaware of all the press intrusion and so went online. I think the man was probably right to do what he did and he didn’t stop en route either so no harm done. I really think we have become swamped in the most disproportional manner with this contemptible attitude which is termed “lockdown”. It has created such a hostile, beastly environment that I cannot see how people can think straight at all and so much of our freedom is impugned by what the Government has “advised”. I do wonder -when the Government says “all right you can go about your business” the virus isn’t going to go away – it will remain with us and by the way they talk it will come back (like all viruses do or mutate, etc.) and so when the day before one can’t hug one’s mother but the day after THE GOVERNMENT says “all right you can go about your business” then one can hug one’s mother, regardless! It is mindless. I think we have been really sold a pup here – I’m not disputing the potency of the virus to injure and devoid people of physical life but if the same fuss is made over a host of other virulent pests that ruin life and steal it prematurely, then maybe we can say we have a policy that is intent on doing what it says it’s there to do. Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance. How we all need that now. Thanks again for your clear appraisal of this matter. We’re enjoying the Kitchen Table by the way, that Brand interview is quite remarkable.

  18. During the Brexit campaign, Dominic Cummings was quite adept at making us feel a visceral anger towards the EU unelected ‘elites’ that ran our lives. In many ways this anger that he unleashed is now directed towards him.

    Dominic Cummings is very much an ‘elite’ with considerable power over our lives, particularly at the moment. He made it clear at his press conference that he was part of drafting the lockdown rules. I don’t think he broke the law but he very much broke the spirit of the rules and definitely did not follow the messaging that was coming out of Downing Street – there are many sick parents who looked after their own children, and the messaging seemed to be that the sick person should stay put and any help should travel to them. Did he spread the virus through his actions, almost certainly not, but a society-wide pandemic response can’t be based on everyone making their own judgements based on their own understandings. As an unelected adviser with power over our lives, like was argued for EU technocrats, there is no real way of removing him at the ballot box. So I can understand the visceral anger and mob mentality toward an unelected elite that flouts the rules that he subjects the rest of society to. If Dominic Cummings wasn’t the subject of it, you could believe that this is something that he would mastermind.

      1. And I don’t hate Dominic Cummings. I’m not entirely convinced that people expressing their opinions and writing to their MPs is’ mob-rule’. Your Twitter is filled with tweets against politicians and officials from Blackford and Sturgeon to Barnier and Tusk, at what point does that become ‘the mob’? This is an important story though, the public trying to ‘take back control’ from an unelected elite individual who finds loopholes where others make sacrifices.

      2. Mobs always say they are ‘trying to take back control’. I think hounding people out of their jobs and homes constitutes mob rule. Perhaps you have a different definition…?

  19. OK then David, if what you say about exceptions being for all making no sense is true then why would the government be looking at scrapping fines for families seeking childcare?

    Did I say I didn’t think it was a witch hunt or did I say I wasn’t sure about this?

      1. OK then the exception becomes part of the rules then and there is a change in the “madness and cruelty”. Hopefully those families that have been fined for doing what in in principle is not different to what Dominic Cummings has done, will be compensated.

        At the same time I think it fair to suggest that trust in the UK government may have suffered a setback over what has been revealed recently which may have an effect on the management and adherence to lock-down restrictions for anyone acting with “instinct”.

  20. There is so much ‘spin’ from all sides, but for me I had hoped (naively) that Mr Cummings would have been honest. The table in the garden at No 10 on a sunny afternoon, an address by a man with sleeves rolled up, all promised a ‘let me tell you the truth’.
    Elements of his story just do not make sense, but it is the remark he made about the article he wrote a year ago flagging up corona-virus that has been proved to be a lie.
    https://fullfact.org/health/cummings-blog-coronavirus/

    Oh how I long for a political system that operates in truth and justice…hang on a minute, we have one, the Kingdom of God 🙂 Better to meditate on that rather than the confusing media in this world.

    As Dostoevsky said…
    Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.

    PS: I do not want Cummings to resign, someone needs to keep Boris in check!!!
    Thanks for your article, very interesting 🙂

    1. How does the fact that the article was edited “prove that Cummings lied”about the original article?
      The Number 10 source said that his article referred to the article which was linked, which discussed coronaviruses and it sounds like this point has been confirmed. Am I missing something?

      1. He said he wrote an article mentioning ‘coronavirus’ over a year ago. He did write an article about pandemics, but ‘coronavirus’ was added only a month or so ago.
        Anyone writing articles would know that they redacted it and he should not have claimed it was in the original.

  21. Thank you David, I confess that I have jumped to a wrong conclusion about Dominic Cummings by assuming that he has broken the law. I was wrong. I have also judged him. I repent. I confess hypocrisy to and repent of it because were I in his position I may well have made the same decision instead of staying put in London. I’m grateful to you for explaining what the media are doing – I don’t know much about them to be honest. I am stirred by you closing exhortations to preach the gospel of good news to the poor and go for Glory!

  22. Don’t think I disagreed with any of that. For what it’s worth, here’s what I posted on my FB page a few days ago.

    Apart from a work of grace, people aren’t looking for a saviour, they’re looking for someone worse than they are. It’s self-righteousness.
    Public shaming (the mob) such as we see with Dominic Cummings (guilty or not) helps keep people trapped in a self-righteous mindset: ‘They’re a worse sinner than I am.’ It’s thinking that confirms their lost estate and will take them to hell.
    How unlike the Apostle Paul when he called himself ‘The chief of sinners’ or when Peter ‘fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord (Luke 5:8).”’
    When Christians join the world in mercilessly attacking people, they are not only helping keep people in a self-righteous mindset but actually help them on their way to hell.

    A debtor to mercy alone,
    Of covenant mercy I sing;
    Not fear, with thy righteousness on,
    My person and offering to bring;
    The terrors of law and of God
    With me can have nothing to do;
    My Saviour’s obedience and blood
    Hide all my transgressions from view.

    Augustus Montague Toplady, 1740-78

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