On the 26 May, I wrote to the Prime Minister to convey my deep concerns, and the concerns of so many people in West Ham, about the behaviour of his Chief Adviser, Dominic Cummings. You can see the letter in full below:
Dear Prime Minister,
I write to you about the scandal surrounding your senior adviser, Dominic Cummings.
The COVID-19 pandemic, and the actions this country was taking together to defeat it, have been traumatic for so many. Every single one of my constituents, whether they have had to deal with personal tragedy or not, have understandably found the severe restrictions difficult. But the vast, vast majority, in my constituency and around the country, believed they had a common understanding of what was expected of them, understood why those strict rules were necessary, and behaved accordingly, often making terrible sacrifices to do so.
That common understanding of the rules and their importance has been essential in preventing even larger numbers of us from dying, but this common understanding and public consent for collective action is crumbling now, and you must take personal responsibility for that.
In Newham, we have had far more than our share of tragedy and hardship through this crisis. We have had the highest age-adjusted mortality rate in the country. So many Newham children have been deprived of learning and communication with their friends because the schools have understandably been closed in the main, and they don’t have adequate digital access at home.
My constituents are disproportionately likely to work in many of the jobs that have had the highest risks of infection, and so many of my constituents have been left out of the Government’s support schemes.
Some have had to go to work under unsafe conditions in order to avoid destitution. At the same time, others have been deprived of the work that pays their bills because of the lockdown, and have been offered little or no support to keep them above water and out of debt. Our local foodbank has experienced an enormous surge in demand, and I dread to think what the long-term consequences will be for our already disastrous levels of poverty and homelessness.
My constituents have endured this ongoing hardship to save the lives of others. Now, they feel their sacrifices and the losses they have suffered, which are still so fresh, have been ridiculed by the words and actions of this Government and disparaged by the Government’s failure to uphold the rules consistently and honestly when it comes to one of their own.
Many see Mr Cummings’ defences of himself as an insult, implying that when they refrained from seeing their loved ones or travelling to make life easier for their families, they have behaved irresponsibly or even callously. The opposite is true. My constituents and others who have remained apart often at great personal cost have done the right thing by their families, communities and country. It is Dominic Cummings whose actions were irresponsible.
We are being told by experts, both in the UK and abroad, that a second wave of COIVD-19 is likely. I assume therefore that at that point we are again going to need to isolate, shield, and stay at home to save lives. That actions of Dominic Cummings and your failure to sack him will undermine the moral authority of the Government when it may seek to impose a second lockdown. They will remember the unprecedented hubris of this Government and your advisor and many, I fear, will refuse to make similar sacrifices necessary for the control of this pandemic.
This is not simply a question of the Government’s integrity and your personal authority. The lives of the people I represent will be put at further risk if this situation is not remedied, and trust and clarity about the rules is not restored.
The country was given one simple instruction, by you, in a letter. You must stay at home. I believe that you know, as the country knows, that what Mr Cummings did was not in line with the Stay Home instruction and guidance. If you fail to sack Mr Cummings, your Government will have no authority to ask and expect the public to adhere to any new rules you make with the threat of a second wave looming?
It is long past time to tell Mr Cummings he needs to resign, and you must act swiftly to prevent public trust in the anti-COVID measures from being damaged beyond repair.