Today’s punch-up obscured how many of the failures that left the UK so fatally exposed to the pandemic still remain
Who better to judge the true significance of Dominic Cummings’ Big Day Out at parliament than Dominic Cummings himself? Not the grave-faced, shaven-headed man we’ve been watching, ladling out his revenge cold, but an earlier incarnation. Before he became chief adviser to Boris Johnson, before he compromised his own government’s lockdown rules by driving the family to Barnard Castle; before all of that, when he was just a guy holed up in a bunker with his blog, composing screeds about Bismarck, he anticipated the absurdity of today’s carnival: “The political-media system,” he wrote in a 2017 post, “actively suppresses thinking about, and focus on, what’s important.”
Westminster demands a diversion and, over the months leading up to this hearing, Cummings has made himself its distractor-in-chief. Ever happy to fatten the beast he only pretends to despise, he has drip-fed journalists poison about his former confidants. And a grateful press hyped up the coming “Domageddon”, describing him as the “terrifying” kamikaze genius prepared to slay the prime minister or, at the very least, detonate Matt Hancock for “lying”.