Slowing to a steady trickle of new MP/yourref:Cummings/myref:CutAndPasteBullshit now, but still they come, and with them a lot more people starting to complain about the ones who just don’t answer at all. So rude. So rude. My response would be to go and see them in person, both to ask the questions posed in emails and letters, but also to ask them to explain how they justify not replying to their constituents’ mail.

Of the so-called Covid Four, whose appearances at the public inquiry are already being anticipated, Matt Hancock’s is already in, and today is joined by Dominic Raab, though I’ve seen nothing yet from Rishi Sunak or Michael Gove, so I hope their constituents will keep pressing them.

Dominic Raab, MP for Esher and Walton and First Secretary of State, has a pretty bad case of spellcheck failure, unless he is trying to invent a new word, hiyoung, or has decided to drop in the name of a Korean footballer, to remind people he is the Foreign Secretary. 

‘Mr Cummings explained that he believed he acted (three verbs close to each other there, all ending in “ed” … he explained he believed he acted …. Mmmm, I am sensing a bit of doubt in the basic story here, Dom. The “believed” after ‘explained” is very much a distancing word, is it not? He could have just said “he explained that he acted” … And “acted!” There is a loaded word, if ever I saw one. “Acte”d as in put on a performance.. I could be wrong but I think De Facto Dom is calling Durham Dom a dirty liar here … He is pissed off that  the behind the scenes Dom has become more front of house than the De Facto Dom, plus he is giving all Doms a bad name, as if non-Doms don’t do enough damage to Dommery as it is … enough italics, get on with the rest of his letter … ) appropriately because of the need to care for hiyoung (there we go, Hiyoung … does Defacto Dom play golf? He may be thinking of the Korean golfer Hee-Young Park… )child and protect his family at a time when his home in London had become a target for abuse.’ (This is major cut and paste bullshit … it became a modest target AFTER the lockdown breach was exposed, not before. God, they lie so effortlessly these people.)

More cut and paste bullshit to follow, as he tears up the rules which every decent, law-abiding person had taken to mean ‘stay at home,’ especially if you have symptoms. ‘As the Prime Minister has acknowledged, reasonable people may disagree with his actions. (More grammatical filth … ‘his’ = Johnson’s, but I assume that is not what he is saying.) ‘I can understand the difference of views (if not how to express them accurately). But it is also the case that individuals must exercise their judgement when it comes to dealing with exceptional circumstances, (which Cummings did not have), as and where the rules allow (which they didn’t). It is time for the country to move on (bingo!) and focus on tackling the coronavirus pandemic together – and in doing so, we all must stay alert, to control the virus and save lives.’ (Aw Dom, ending with the slogan … good boy!’

Jeremy Wright QC, MP for Kenilworth and Southam, used to sit at the Cabinet table with Raab, as Culture Secretary, and was also Attorney General. Now, as is clear from the current Attorney General, that is no guarantee of having any mind at all, let alone an independent one. But Mr Wright’s legal skills are on full display in a pretty withering analysis of Cummings’ comings, goings and explanations.

Here is the key part: Leaving the house (Durham not the fabled ‘London lockdown’ about which Mrs Cummings aka Mary Wakefield wrote in The Spectator, lies on which the nornally loquacious Andrew Neil and Fraser Nelson are yet to opine) for exercise, for example, would have been permissible and although travelling long distances to take that exercise was discouraged, there was at least some variation in the view of what this meant among different police forces charged with enforcement. Again therefore, it can be argued that there was not a technical breach of the regulations and guidance.”

However… ‘What is most important at this point is that Government can give clear messages about how to defeat the virus and that everyone feels motivated to do their best to help. This is more important than the position of any individual in Downing Street and therefore, fairly or unfairly, I have concluded that it would be better for Mr Cummings to leave his position at Downing Street. I have communicated my view and the reasons for it to the Prime Minister.”

John Penrose, MP for Weston-Super-Mare, ties himself in all manner of grammatical and logistical knots, after moving from move on cut and paste to an attempt at a bit of golf club bore ‘commonsense innit?’ chat – only it in’t.

‘The broader point is whether this proves that there’s one rule for Mr Cummings and another for the rest of us, or are we all in this together? (I take especial objection to sentences which have a clause hanging at the end, still governed by an unrelated, in terms of sense, verb. The verb is ‘proves,’ yet that definitive concept – proof – is attached to a question ‘Are we all in this together?’ So it is actually nonsense, Penrose, go to the back of the class.) My view is that there certainly shouldn’t be a double standard but, as a result, that makes it hard to argue he should lose his job. (What on earth does that sentence mean? I know I should have better things to do, but I have read it four times, and I cannot work out what he means. Taken literally he is saying that because he does not support double standards, it is hard to argue that Cummings should lose his job. But then this …) After all, if we fired everybody who has broken the lockdown rules at some stage over the last two months, a lot of people would be out of work tomorrow.’ (So now, contrary to earlier cut and paste, he is accepting Cummings broke the rules, but should not be punished because so many others did the same, when in fact they didn’t, but in any event if this is the logic, what is the point of having rules at all?)

(Now I know as well as anyone, and I am sure my partner Fiona thinks this from time to time, that one should not judge anyone by their spouse, but I cannot help but feel worried that Dido Harding, who is in charge of the not at all world class test, track and trace system that the government says is crucial to defeating the pandemic, is married to this semantic disaster area.)

Natalie Elphicke, MP for Dover: Essentially posts large chunks of the transcript of Cummings’ press conference in the Downing Street garden, and admits this cop-out is a stock letter.  ‘I have received a very large number of emails, including your own. People have written to me with very strong views of support (That one was from Johnson) as well as opposition to the actions of Mr Cummings. In view of this, I am writing in the same terms to those who have written to me in support of Mr Cummings as well as those who have written in opposition to him.’

[Cue transcript.}

Andrew Rosindell, MP for Romford: ‘My view is simple, if Mr Cummings has broken the law, he should resign, but if he has not done so, now that he is back to good health again, I think we should let him get on with the job of working with Boris Johnson to get our country through this crisis and then our economy back on track.’ (More grammatical filth … full stop after simple please. Also, when we say ‘if he has not done so’, does the ‘done’ refer to breaking the law, or resigning? It is not clear. That then means the next clause, about his health – though we still worry about the fuzzy eyes, surely, have we no heart, Mr Rosindell – is also unclear. You are asking the reader to work too hard to understand you. Is this your purpose? Also, are you content to consent to, and cement ((I am doing this deliberately to annoy)) the notion that Johnson cannot function without Cummings in the fulfilment of his duties? Though, frankly, given how badly he has done with his consiglieri alongside him … I leave that tjought with you, Rozzer.’

Ever unable to get Brexit out of his little head, he goes on: ‘There is a huge job ahead of us now to re-build the strong and vibrant economy we had before this crisis and to forge ahead in the world, now that the U.K. has left the E.U. at long last. We must not be distracted by minor issues and focus on the long-term interests of our nation.’ (Mmmm, good luck Roz.)

Robbie Moore, MP for Keighley and Ilkley.

“I concluded that Mr Cummings clearly did what he thought was right at the time to protect his child. As you will be aware, the matter has now been investigated by the Durham Constabulary. ”

‘I do not believe it would be fair nor reasonable for an individual to lose their (his) job based on the Durham Constabulary’s findings.’ (Regardless of what they had been?)

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed. Top toadying cut and paste: ‘I trust the Prime Minister and I stand by him and the judgements he is making. (Christ!)

I am not sure that what I have to say will change anyone’s position. (You could give it a go, AM) Nor am I in a position to answer some of the very specific questions about Mr Cummings’ personal circumstances that many of you posed. But I want to assure you that I will always be your voice to Government, as well as being a part of Government. While I may not speak publicly on some matters, I will always convey your views privately and I have conveyed the strength of feeling on this issue.’

Then auditioning for Thought for the Day … ‘Throughout this period I have done my best to promote kindness and understanding. This is hard on all of us. Every day is a challenge. And every individual faces a different set of circumstances.’ (Unique even. Like having a child.)

Huw Merriman MP for Bexhill and Battle: ‘

Unlike most, he begins with a list of examples where he has spoken out against the government and distances himself from them by saying he chairs a select committee and is not a ‘member of government’ then goes on to offer much the same platitudes as the rest, albeit with this:  As for the latest instalment, I find it a huge frustration that this has caused a distraction at a time when the vast majority of constituents have been doing the right thing.’

Robin Walker, MP for Worcester: ‘I hold no particular brief for Mr Cummings and reserved judgement on the issue until I had heard the explanation that was set out in his statement last weekend. Only at that point and having heard the facts, in the knowledge that the police had been made aware of his movements but had not pressed charges did I express an opinion. I felt that it was reasonable that he should be given the same benefit of the doubt that others would receive in the same circumstances…’ (But the circumstances were unique, so presumably there can be no others

Johnny Mercer, MP for Plymouth Moor View. I got into a bit of a twitter ruck with him last week, and it was remarkable how many of his constituents and serving military – he is defence minister – were urging me on, including one soldier serving in the special forces, who has fought in Iraq, Afghanistan and plenty more places besides, who said: ‘Keep going with that plonker. They have absolutely no idea what it feels like to be sent to risk your life, when your country has chosen to make itself so irrelevant and derided in the world.’

As for Cummings, Mercer’s letter was from an assistant: ‘Johnny has set out his opinion on the Dominic Cummings situation via his most recent newsletter. If you have not already had sight of the newsletter, I have enclosed the link below for your overview.

He writes in short punchy sentences. ‘This man works for the prime minister. He is the Prime Minister’s adviser. He does not work for me – indeed I have never crossed paths with him. His employment is a matter for the PM. The PM has made his position clear, and I cannot work out what is to be gained by joining the thrall when we have so much work to do. I support the PM. He has done more for Plymouth and the causes I fight for than any of his predecessors – fact.” (Fact!!???? He has been there a few months and achieved pretty much zero so far, and managed to turn Covid into a national humiliation all over the globe.)

Andrew Bowie, MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, has an interesting style. He writes his stock letter as a Q and A. For example …

Q: Do you think Dominic Cummings should resign?
Who advises him and for how long is ultimately a matter for the Prime Minister alone, but my own view is that the rules must be applied equally and without favour, at all times. If it emerges that Mr Cummings broke the law, I believe his position will be untenable and his resignation inevitable, if it is not already. I have confidence in the relevant authorities to investigate the facts of the case and I have no doubt that they will do so.’

He goes strong on the personal sympathy ‘for a father who was scared for the life of his child.’ (Oh please, spare me.) This was not a journey he took for leisure purposes or for personal comfort and I believe his actions represent a lapse in judgement. A serious mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. (better.)
‘This does not excuse Mr Cummings’s actions- many of us are scared but strictly follow the guidelines anyway, as we all should. But I do feel that the tone of the debate needs to calm, regardless of our views on what should happen next.’ [Move on.]

Craig Williams, MP for Montgomeryshire: [Cut and paste/been working hard/guidance/

‘The Prime Minister has decided that he wishes Mr Cummings to continue in his post and I respect that decision. Likewise when other politicians and leading figures ​such as the Welsh Labour Health Minister, ​are called to resign when ​they appear to have breached guidance, I refused to jump on the bandwagon. I refuse to do that again now.’

Suzanne Webb, MP for Stourbridge, decides it is time to move on even from moving on. ‘Now that investigations into the matter have concluded, I feel it is important to look ahead at (‘to’, surely?)the challenges before us. The certainty is that, until we have a vaccine, we will be living with some form of social distancing and it will remain the new norm for some time.’ (Futurologist in the making?)

Rebecca Pow, MP for Taunton Deane: [Cake and eat] ‘Notwithstanding, this detailed explanation from Mr Cummings ideally could have come much sooner. Whilst I do not believe that I would have come to the same decision, we are unaware of Mr Cummings’ family’s situation and without being faced with the same circumstances, it is difficult to know for sure.’

Ben Everitt, MP for Milton Keynes North, is another who pretends Cummings has been living with some kind of media and protest war zone all his life, rather than enduring a modest doorstep presence since making a tit of himself.

“Of course, public figures should be held to account, but this should be done in a measured and appropriate way. There should be no trial by media and I believe that public calls for resignations and firings only add to the noise that has distracted us all from the important task of tackling the coronavirus. 

I recognise that you might not agree with my comments or my position and that you may be disappointed but be assured that I understand your concerns and have relayed these to the Prime Minister. (Who may know who I am, I’m not sure.)

I continue to have full faith in the Prime Minister and his ministerial colleagues to see us through this crisis (dearie me) and to deliver on the promises we made to the British people in the manifesto on which I stood in the General Election.”

Theresa Villiers: MP for Chipping Barner: {Lots of anger/damage to HMG]

‘I deeply regret any impression it might have created that there was one set of rules for Dominic Cummings and a different one for everyone else. This was definitely not the case. Mr Cummings was genuinely trying to do the right thing to care for his family at a time when his wife was ill and he expected to (and subsequently did) come down with Covid himself. (Did he? Are you his doctor? Did you do a Covid test? Did you recommened the eye test drive.) Lockdown guidance has always allowed a degree of flexibility if travel is needed to ensure a child is properly looked after.(And if you didn’t realise that when you didn’t see a grandchild, or go to a loved one’s funeral, then more fool you, pleb.)

‘I can also provide the reassurance (the what? )that elements of the media coverage were incorrect. ‘

That said, I accept that for some days the controversy undermined efforts to get across crucial messages about new guidance on Covid-19 as the lockdown started to ease. I have expressed my concern publicly about that and directly to Government Ministers. They have assured me that the issue will not be allowed to impede the massive effort being made to bear down on the Covid-19 as well as re-start the economy.

Although I have not called for Mr Cummings’ dismissal as many have requested, please rest assured that I take your views very seriously, and have urged the Prime Minister’s team to ensure that lessons are learned from what has happened. [Cut and paste]

The first constituent who sent me the letter from Wendy Morton, MP for Aldridge-Brownhills, described her as ‘fence-sitter in chief.’ Some quality verbose throat-clearing to kick off before the cut and paste: ‘As a country, as a constituency, and as individuals we have experienced, and continue to experience, many challenges, often on a family or personal level, as a result of this virus. My focus throughout this pandemic remains on supporting my constituency and my constituents.’

[Cut and paste/move on.]

Luke Hall, MP for Thornbury, Yate and the surrounding villages

“The Prime Minister’s decision has been not to remove Dominic Cummings from his role. My personal view is that we should therefore now be focusing our efforts back on tackling the ongoing public health crisis. Responding to the pandemic is far too serious for Government not to be giving it complete and full attention during this period, and the media stories surrounding this issue risk detracting from the vitally important work that still needs to be done to protect the most vulnerable people in our society.”