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DAILY MAIL COMMENT: The Covid inquiry has become a circus


In characteristically belligerent fashion, Dominic Cummings went on the attack at the Covid inquiry yesterday, spraying bullets in all directions.

Boris Johnson‘s former chief adviser’s most concentrated fire was aimed at the civil service in general, and the Cabinet Office in particular.

Whitehall was a ‘bombsite’, dysfunctional, obstructive, leaky, rudderless, opaque, he said, adding: ‘Senior people didn’t know who was in charge of what.’

The Cabinet also came in for a fusillade. ‘Not a place for serious discussion’ was one of the milder accusations. Some of the others are not fit to print.

The ex-PM also took a broadside. Indecisive and basically unfit to deal with a crisis of this magnitude, was the verdict.

In characteristically belligerent fashion, Dominic Cummings went on the attack at the Covid inquiry yesterday, spraying bullets in all directions. He is pictured during the inquiry

In characteristically belligerent fashion, Dominic Cummings went on the attack at the Covid inquiry yesterday, spraying bullets in all directions. He is pictured during the inquiry

Protestors hold pictures of coronavirus disease affected persons outside the Covid Inquiry in London yesterday

Protestors hold pictures of coronavirus disease affected persons outside the Covid Inquiry in London yesterday

Let's not forget Mr Cummings (pictured leaving his home) egregiously broke lockdown rules with a jaunt to Barnard Castle. He may be right about the ineptitude of the Whitehall Blob, but he's hardly in a position to throw stones

Let’s not forget Mr Cummings (pictured leaving his home) egregiously broke lockdown rules with a jaunt to Barnard Castle. He may be right about the ineptitude of the Whitehall Blob, but he’s hardly in a position to throw stones

So what did Mr Cummings himself do to combat the most serious health crisis in a century? While Mr Johnson was striving to lead the nation through Covid, his top aide undermined him with negative briefing, leaks and all manner of backstabbing.

This undoubtedly had a detrimental effect on Downing Street’s response to the pandemic. And let’s not forget Mr Cummings egregiously broke lockdown rules with a jaunt to Barnard Castle.

He may be right about the ineptitude of the Whitehall Blob, but he’s hardly in a position to throw stones.

But what is the purpose of this circus of an inquiry? Smug lawyers with 20-20 hindsight excoriating the personalities involved may be fascinating theatre, but it’s largely a sideshow.

Surely the key question should be: Did we lock down too much, rather than too little?

While Boris Johnson (pictured in 2021) was striving to lead the nation through Covid, his top aide undermined him with negative briefing, leaks and all manner of backstabbing

While Boris Johnson (pictured in 2021) was striving to lead the nation through Covid, his top aide undermined him with negative briefing, leaks and all manner of backstabbing

Yes, this was an inexperienced Cabinet wrestling with a deadly and unprecedented threat to the nation’s health. True, many things should have been done differently. But there are also great achievements, not least Boris’s masterminding of our world-leading vaccine programme.

Just imagine the alternative. If Labour had won the 2019 election, the management of this crisis would have been left to Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.

Does anybody seriously believe they would have done a better job? If they were in charge, we’d probably still be locked down.

Hitting the buffers

The Government’s decision to reprieve railway station ticket offices is a welcome step back from the obsession with replacing humans with machines.

After a ferocious backlash, the Transport Secretary ordered train companies to ditch controversial plans to close all but a handful of kiosks. On this issue at least, ministers are listening to the public.

The Government's decision to reprieve railway station ticket offices is a welcome step back from the obsession with replacing humans with machines. Pictured: A ticket office at the Windsor Central Railway Station in Windsor, Berkshire on Monday

The Government’s decision to reprieve railway station ticket offices is a welcome step back from the obsession with replacing humans with machines. Pictured: A ticket office at the Windsor Central Railway Station in Windsor, Berkshire on Monday

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union protest outside Central train station in Glasgow in July this year

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union protest outside Central train station in Glasgow in July this year

Shutting booking offices would seriously inconvenience elderly and disabled passengers who struggle with technology and rely on staff for tickets and advice.

Worryingly, train firms are now threatening to claw back the money they would have saved from these closures by hiking fares.

That would be a scandal – and a huge mistake. Despite billions in taxpayer subsidies, their service is increasingly unreliable and horrendously expensive.

The public is already turning away in droves. Fleecing them even more risks driving the railways into the buffers.

Labour war over Gaza

Sir Keir Starmer was forced to deny yesterday that the Israel-Hamas conflict is ‘tearing Labour apart’.

No one believes him, of course. His refusal to back a ceasefire has infuriated his party, from the frontbench to the grassroots.

Sir Keir claims to have purged Labour of its Corbynite anti-Semitism. But the shameful truth is that most members are so wedded to the Palestinian cause that even the massacre of 1,400 Jewish civilians can be brushed aside.

Sir Keir Starmer (pictured on Tuesday) was forced to deny yesterday that the Israel-Hamas conflict is 'tearing Labour apart'

Sir Keir Starmer (pictured on Tuesday) was forced to deny yesterday that the Israel-Hamas conflict is ‘tearing Labour apart’



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