The Cummings Affair – Part 3 – Hate, Hypocrisy and Holiness
When I started writing about this I never intended it to turn into a three part series! But this is the last. I had to do this one because I hope it will help us to see how hopeless our situation is…hypocrisy stalks the land. I say hopeless – except for one thing…read on.
It is astounding that we now have grown people thinking that standing outside their front door banging a saucepan and booing is someone a mature way to behave. I thought ‘Boo for Boris’ was satire and a joke – but apparently not. For those who are not able to make enough noise or muster enough support, this audio was helpfully provided for people to play from their speakers to give the impression of a mass movement.
I feel sorry for any satirical comedian nowadays – truth is more surreal than fiction.
Rom. 2:1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things
1) Ian Blackford – March 23rd Lockdown announced. March 25th Blackford was in London to be at PM’s Question time. Then travelled 600 miles to Skye before self-isolating from his wife because he feared he had Covid. Proclaiming in a somber and serious tone how a government advisor should be fired because he travelled 260 miles to self isolate at farm cottage owned by his parents, whilst yourself travelling 600 miles to self isolate is hypocrisy. (Note: in an earlier version of this article I passed on information that Mr Blackford had traveled to appear on Cullin radio on April the 6th. This was wrong. I apologise. It so frustrating getting information from the Internet. You can’t check everything – although in this instance I followed my usual practice of getting two sources. Both were wrong. Anyway apologies for inadvertently misleading anyone who read it. )
2) The Scottish Tories – Kept quiet about the Cummings situation until Douglas Ross, MP for Moray broke ranks and then one by one they came out to call for his sacking. And their reason for joining the mob? Ross Clark, MSP, helpfully explained on BBC Radio Scotland that it was because ‘people are angry’ and ‘the strength of the public mood’. In other words the Scottish Tories kept silent and eventually came out against Cummings, not on an issue of principle, but because they feared the mob…and wanted to join in. If they think this will bring them votes they are in for a big surprise. The “Tory scum’ out mob will not respect them for it, and those of us who have toyed with voting for them because we wanted someone to stand up to the authoritarian mentality of the Scottish government, and indeed to stand up to the mob. But their actions this week suggest that voting for them would be out of the frying pan into the fire. Silence, then speaking out in anger, because of the anger of the mob, is hypocrisy. The other Tory MPs who think that if they get rid of Cummings this will bring them popularity and allow them to move on are in for a big surprise if they get their way. They may well lose their PM and their seats as a result.
3) Sir Keir Starmer and Stephen Kinnock – Keir Starmer stated I would have sacked Cummings. But Stephen Kinnock was given a shadow ministers job just after he had been warned by police for breaking lockdown rules. That’s hypocrisy.
4) Eddie Wylie – Chief of British Transport Police in Scotland made two trips from Glasgow to his family in Yorkshire during the lockdown – 480 mile round trips. To complain about Cummings but not about the police is hypocrisy.
5) Iain Stewart – Head of NHS Orkney – travelled several times from Orkney to his family home 100 miles away on the Black Isle. He has apologized for doing so after it was reported. He has been defended by the Scottish government – who nonetheless attack Dominic Cummings – that’s hypocrisy.
6) Emily Thornberry – Who has complained about hateful language and violence in the past tweeted in support of those who threw eggs at Dominic Cummings door and yelled abuse – The people of Islington South & Finsbury can always be relied on to say it as it is’, she tweeted. That’s hypocrisy.
Here are the delightful people she was encouraging –
7) Boris Johnson – Talks about support for life and yet has permitted DIY abortions from home and enforced abortion on Northern Ireland. That’s hypocrisy.
8) Dominic Cummings – He helped draw up the rules about lockdown. I don’t have a problem with him going to visit his parents in order to get childcare. I do have a problem with him drawing up a rule saying you should not go back to work if you are ill until you have been cleared. He did not do so – and that is hypocrisy. You can’t have one rule for some and not for others.
9) The BBC – The BBC in its charter promises to bring balanced news to the nation. Emily Maitlis, newsnight presenter came up with this gem this week.
Professing to be an independent journalist, whose salary is paid by the taxpayer, yet engaging in directly partisan (and false) politics is hypocrisy. As are the journalists who have crowded outside Cummings house to complain about him not obeying the social distancing rules!
10) Alastair Campbell – Former Tony Blair spin-doctor has tweeted incessantly about this great moral crisis and how dreadful it is. He helpfully regularly retweets details of how to contact your MP and what to say. This is apparently the greatest disaster/betrayal to hit the country since…? Well how about since Mr. Campbell helped Tony Blair convince parliament that Saddam Hussein really did have weapons of mass destruction which could be used against us – and thus started a war which killed thousands and led to ISIS. For someone to have moral outrage over a father taking his child to be with his parents – whilst having that amount of blood on his hands is hypocrisy.
11) Piers Morgan – rants every day about the corruption and dishonesty of Dominic Cummings and Boris Johnson. Yet this was the man who as editor of The Daily Mirror and the News of the World defended phone hacking and sought to make money out of endless sex scandals. Such a man setting himself up as the moral guardian of the nation is hypocrisy.
The Bishops –
There is one other group that I want to mention – and they are the most embarrassing of all. Religious hypocrisy is the worst. Church of England bishops came out one by one to express their outrage at Cummings and Johnson and call for repentance. Yet they never call the nation to repentance for the many real sins that we are involved in. And they turned a blind eye to the imposition of abortion on Northern Ireland. Jesus had a name for such hypocrites – “whitewashed tombs – twice dead”. Once again Brendan O’Neill – a non-Christian manages to sum it up better than most Christian leaders.
More than a dozen bishops denounced Boris’s defence of Cummings as ‘risible’. One, the bishop of Manchester, went further, suggesting that the Church of England should stop working with the government on tackling the pandemic until Boris shows ‘clear repentance’, including by sacking Cummings. Repent, repent! The arrogance of these men and women of the cloth is extraordinary. Do they not know what century it is? The days when the self-styled representatives of God could tell the democratically elected representatives of the people what to do are long gone.
The use of such emotional blackmail – suggesting a withdrawal of the CofE’s support for the government’s efforts against coronavirus until Boris repents for his sins – shows what a morally unserious institution the church has become. Having jettisoned traditional scripture and Biblical thinking, in favour of embracing the cult of relativism and a happy-clappy rainbow non-judgementalism, the church has been reduced to raging against Dominic Cummings to try to show that it still has a semblance of a moral core. Dom is their devil substitute. It’s pathetic, and what’s more it is a threat to democracy. We don’t want the church in politics. Stick to religion, leave politics to the people.
For me the hypocrisy consists not in Mr. Blackford for example going to his family home 600 miles away to isolate – I think he should be entitled to do so. The hypocrisy is when he condemns someone else for doing the very thing he did! That is true in many of the other examples. It’s sad that that hypocrisy in our leaders is reflected in the general population. So on the one hand I have people absolutely furious at those who are not on their side ‘breaking the rules’, but defensive about those on their side who do the same. That also is hypocrisy.
It would be depressing just to leave it there so I won’t. Jesus in John Ch. 8 faced up to a mob who were venting their anger on a woman caught in adultery. Everyone knows that he said ‘let him who is without sin cast the first stone’. Words which are highly applicable to all the hypocrites above – and to all of us –because in some degree we all have a degree of hypocrisy.
But Jesus also said to the woman ‘go and sin no more’. How is that possible? Our problem is sin – yes societies sin, but also our own. We don’t know how to deal with the sin of society – anarchy and lawlessness will lead to destruction. Lockdown and legalism will lead to more hypocrisy and injustice. Who is going to deal with sin? How can we be holy? Christ alone has the answer. And he has given it to us. That is what the Good News is.
I really like what Glen Scrivener says in this video….it’s really well worth watching.
Anyway as I said at the beginning , church and people. I have no more idea what will happen with this, than I do about Covid. But this has not been pleasant. I hope I won’t be writing any more about it. All we can do is plead for mercy and say ‘Lord, enough! We get the message!)…
The other two in this series are:
Ps. This from Stephen Clark – a man who I sometimes disagree with – but who has a fine mind, writes well and is always fair is an excellent summary of the legal and political situation.
Nobody has really come out of the Dominic Cummings – Boris Johnson débâcle very well.
First, the media. To begin with, as I posted last week, DC’s journey to Durham was NOT a breach of law. The relevant S.I. allows, under s.6, for reasonable exceptions to the stay at home rule, and it is reasonable to believe that DC’s trip to Durham came within that exception. No crime there, then.
But what of the government’s guidance? The government’s main advice page states – and stated at the relevant time – the need to stay at home if one suspects a household member has (had) symptoms of Covid-19. However, it goes on to state: ‘If you have children, keep following this advice to the best of your ability, however, we are aware that not all these measures will be possible.’ Apart from the appalling punctuation, which means that the last quoted sentence is not truly a sentence, this is fairly clear: it gives a measure of discretion and judgment to the individual.
So why have the media failed to mention this? It is as plain as a pikestaff. Then, the journalists swamping DC outside his house to ask about his journey when they themselves are flouting social distancing is an appalling double standard.
On the other hand, Melanie Phillips’s article which began by speaking of ‘public hysteria’ over this could have been a classic example in Thouless’s great little work ‘Straight and Crooked Thinking’ of the use of emotive language for rhetorical effect but which obfuscated the issues. Has she surveyed the British public? Does a negative view of DC’s actions logically entails the proposition that there is public hysteria in the UK? No doubt, some may be hysterical. But this is to commit the classic logical fallacy of substituting the terms ‘all’ or ‘many’ for some.
Secondly, Mr Cummings himself. He did break the guidance when, having gone home on being contacted by his wife on fearing that she had Covid-19, only to return to work later that afternoon. That WAS a breach of the guidance and of the law but hardly anyone comments on this. Curiouser and curiouser.
But the real problem in all this has been missed. DC is great at coming up with effective slogans: ‘Take back control’; ‘Let’s get Brexit done’; ‘Stay at home. Stay safe. Save our NHS’ or words to that effect. The trouble with slogans is that they do not allow for nuances or for personal discretion and judgment. DC knew the guidance and knew that it allowed for him to exercise judgment to protect his child. The problem is that those in the public who simply listen to the slogans (endlessly repeated in the media and by Matt Hancock) but who do not take the trouble to read for themselves the SI and the full text of the official guidance did not know and, it seems, still do not know that the advice allows for exceptional circumstances.
Here is the irony. During the Brexit campaign DC sought to pit the British public against ‘the elite’. But in knowing the government’s advice allowed him to do what he did in driving to Durham, whereas many are not aware of it, he demonstrated that he himself belongs to a certain elite.
The problem runs deep. Advertisers spent a fortune because they know that slick slogans are far more effective than rational argument. And the reason for this is that these days someone can go through school and get excellent grades, get a first in university, without having even heard of Thouless or Toulmin, let alone having read them. The upshot is that critical analysis of WORDS and of the rules which are essential to logical analysis are not being inculcated. Thus, slogans, which do not allow for nuances, are the order of the day. Cummings and Johnson played to this in the BREXIT debate, just as many Remainers did. The reality was far more complex than either side was prepared to admit when making their pitch to the public. Having let this genie out of the bottle, it is now causing endless trouble to the PM. Neil Postman, over 30 years ago, pointed out the contrast between political discourse in 19th century America, where ordinary people, with little education, were able to follow a three day debate between two prominent politicians and what happens today.
The PM, DC, Matt Hancock, politicians of all kinds, the media, the education system and the public are all part of the DC débâcle. It is astonishing in this digital age, when the SI and the government advice can quickly be accessed on line and read in a reasonably short period of time that slogans are still the order of the day. They may win campaigns and elections, but this whole incident has proved how disastrous they can be. That is the real issue to be addressed.
But as Thucydides (a favourite of DC) pointed out in his great ‘History of the Peloponnesian War’, when commenting on war, until human nature could be changed, such things would always happen. Likewise, until the mindset can be changed on how politics and public discourse is conducted can be changed, we shall keep having these problems.
As for those who had penalties slapped on them for driving a distance with their children in similar circumstances to DC, the law is quite clear. Refuse to pay. If then court action follows for refusing to pay an on the spot penalty, let it go to court and raise the proper defence of reasonable excuse under s.6.
As for DC’s drive to Barnard Castle, why did not his wife drive back to London? I think that driving when unsure if one’s sight is good enough to do so could easily land one in trouble with the law. But I shall not comment further on that.
Will he survive? Who knows?