Tuesday 26 May 2020

Cummingsgate: Cummings' tactics

We used to get days like yesterday and Sunday every 3 or 4 years. Since Brexit and coronavirus, we seem to get them every three or four days.

It was interesting to watch Cummings' tactics. He turned up for the press conference 30 minutes late. Was this just keeping the opposing team sweating in the sun, while you relax in the cool of the changing room? No. It now seems it was to clear time to arm-twist Durham Police into changing their story. 15-love to Cummings.

Then he went for a long, detailed, and, to me anyway, in parts quite boring story. Listening is hard work, and taking in a whole lot of facts unseen is tough. So the journos, particularly the first couple to serve, didn't do very well at the q and a. Game to Cummings.

But the downside of Cummings' tactics is that although it helps you through the immediate hazards of the q and a, it provides an awful lot of material to be poured over and examined in the hours and days to come. 

The 'I had to break the lock-down to drive my wife to a local beauty spot on her birthday in order to test my eyes' was the stand-out weak line, and was being ridiculed in seconds. 'If this is the best he can do when he's had six weeks to think about it, how can he be an A-list spin doctor?' must have passed through quite a few minds. 

But now a number of other details are being examined, e.g. if he was doing nothing wrong being in Durham, why did he weave such an elaborate web of deception to pretend he was in London. Cummings says he was being 'targeted' and feared for his safety. Did he report such fears to the police? And if he did, did they say: 'Sorry. Can't help you, old boy.'?

Cummings also claimed he wrote a prophetic article about coronavirus in 2019, but this appears not to be true, though an attempt has been made to doctor records to make it look as though he had. This is particularly interesting, because if it is a lie, it is a completely gratuitous one. It is in no way necessary, or germane to Cummings' case. Not now so clear that Cummings is going to win the match.

There may be more as the fine tooth comb goes through his words.

My overall assessment is that the view of most people watching is that Cummings will continue to be seen as a rich toff with a country house who believed he personally was above the rules he was helping to impose on everyone else. He may have spotted some loophole in the very small print that said: 'If you fear you may at some point become ill, and you have a child, you can drive anywhere you like,' but none of the rest of us understood the rules that way, and it was certainly not what the government that Mr Cummings runs, sorry 'advises', was telling us.

Those continuing to back Mr Cummings are doing it at their political peril.

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