LISA NANDY - Lack of Dominic Cummings apology is unbelievable

In this column two weeks ago I wrote about how inspiring I had found the community reaction to the lockdown.
Dominic CummingsDominic Cummings
Dominic Cummings

The countless acts of kindness, support and sacrifice, even when it meant being unable to see family and friends, visiting loved ones in hospital and attending funerals of those we have sadly lost.

People have taken the government’s rules seriously – not just the letter of them, but the spirit.

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We knew that the best way to play our part in seeing off the greatest public health emergency in generations was to follow those rules. To stay home, to protect our health service and to save lives.

So I share the frustration and anger of dozens of constituents who have contacted me in recent days regarding the Prime Minister’s closest advisor, Dominic Cummings, who travelled from London to Durham whilst believing he may have been infected with Covid-19.

When I read the stories of constituents who have made truly heart-breaking sacrifices – not visiting sick relatives, missing out on meeting grandchildren for the first time, being unable to help struggling family members - the complete lack of apology or remorse on display from one of the government’s most powerful officials for this breach seems unbelievable.

I have heard from dozens of families in Wigan who found themselves in a similar position to Mr Cummings, but they took the harder – and correct – decision to stay isolated at home, because they understood the importance of sticking to the rules that we were told to follow.

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The greatest danger of Mr Cummings’s actions - and the repeated defence of him by the Prime Minister and senior members of the Cabinet - is the effect it risks having over the coming days and weeks on the continued willingness of the public to follow the lockdown rules.

The last few weeks have been incredibly difficult for us all. We’re missing our families, unable to celebrate birthdays or come together to mourn the loss of loved ones. It goes against every instinct not to be there to support the people we care most about. The longer it goes on, the harder it gets, and we all want to get back to some kind of normality as soon as possible.

So when someone who is a central part of the government is seen to be flouting those rules - and we’re told by the Prime Minister that he did nothing wrong - it might be incredibly tempting to think that we’ve been taking lockdown too seriously and that we’re within our rights to pick and choose which rules to follow.

But this would be a huge mistake. The greatest danger remains that we come out of lockdown too quickly, that infection rate spikes, and we find ourselves facing a second wave of this disease.

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That risks thousands more deaths, our brilliant NHS staff put at further risk, and all the pain and frustration of the last few weeks wasted as lockdown is extended.

The right course of action is rarely the easy one, and rarely has that been more true than during this coronavirus pandemic.

So let’s stick to the official expert advice, even if this government can’t.

The collapse of Shearings and their parent company Specialist Leisure Group into administration is another huge blow for the local economy in Wigan.

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Shearings have beensynonymous with coach trips and holidays for generations of Wiganers, and the potential job losses at their Wigan HQ is particularly tough news.

We have already seen how precarious the travel sector is over the last year with the loss of Thomas Cook, but the coronavirus pandemic has made a tough situation impossible for an industry that relies so heavily on seasonal business.

I encourage any constituents who have been affected by the Shearings administration and are in need of support to get in touch.

I will be working with colleagues in Parliament and with trade unions to help ensure that the government provides the necessary support to ensure the travel industry can survive this.