A new kind of political lying

We all know that politicians lie.

The Cummins saga however is showing a new kind of political lying. In this kind of lying the speaker knows that what he is saying is patently not true. The words are devoid of truth as they leave his mouth – and everyone can see that, including the speaker. He just has to say something.  Anything.  To tell obvious lies and not to care that everyone can see they are lies at the moment you speak them takes a certain kind of morally empty and dishonourable person. This is the kind of behavior that is being normalised in Britain’s political class.

Here is one exponent of this art-form. I’m simply lifting chunks from the Guardian for this.

Challenged on Cummings’ explanation that he drove to Barnard Castle, a local beauty spot 30 miles from Durham, to test his eyesight out on his wife’s birthday, Gove said:

First thing to say is that Dominic had received medical advice, senior medical advice, saying that he was safe to return to work at that point. It was more than 14 days after he had first shown symptoms of the virus. It was important, he believed, that he returned to work and, certainly, it’s the case that his dedication to work is phenomenal. He wanted to make sure that before he took the journey down the A1 that he was safe to drive and, of course, during the course of that journey he confirmed to himself that he was safe to drive.”

When highlighted that driving when your eyesight is not good enough is an offence under the Road Traffic Act, Gove replied: “Dominic’s eyesight was good enough, that was the whole point of the journey, to determine that he could drive safely.”

Pressed again over whether he was entirely happy with Cummings’ explanation – especially given the trip to Barnard Castle was on his wife’s birthday – Gove replied: “Yes, but, to my mind I can’t see the relevance of that. He drove to Barnard Castle, the family stopped, he walked a few yards, sat on a bench for a short period of time, then walked back to the car and then drove back to his home. So, I think the fact that it also happens was Easter Sunday was immaterial.”


In reference to Cummings’ claim that while he was in the north-east he took a drive with his family to Barnard Castle, 30 miles from Durham, to test his eyesight, on Sky News Burley asked: “If you’re struggling with Covid-19 and you think you’ve got a problem with your eyesight, what is the government advice?”

Gove: “Well, I think that different people will take different steps in order to ensure that their eyesight is properly addressed.”

Burley: “What’s the government advice?”

Gove: “Well, we advise people obviously to seek medical advice.”

Burley: “So it’s not to get in a car and drive half an hour with your four-year-old strapped in the back?”

Gove: “Well, as we know Dominic [Cummings], and I know you’re alluding to Dominic, was given the all-clear by the medics, he was told that it was safe for him to return to work. He wanted to make sure before he did return to work that he was in a good condition in order to drive the long journey back down the A1 so he took a short journey, that short one that was consistent with the medical advice, consistent with medical guidance…”

Burley: “… are you telling me that doctors told him to take that drive, he was following medical advice?”

Gove: “I’m saying that doctors cleared him to be able to return to work and he was able to return to work … and he did take medical advice and was told he could return to work and indeed he could drive safely as well.”

There is no attempt to address the question. The speaker is simply trying to throw out some chaff. He is doing this consciously. He must be completely devoid of morality and ethics. Caring only for his career (and in this case that of his political ally – whose fate is no doubt linked to his own). Not caring about; truth, the public, accountability, “integrity in public office”. Nothing. Simply base. The political class if it were possible has in this case sunk to an incredible new low. They lie openly almost relishing that they can get away with it. Such is a naked manifestation of power.


This is the first time in this saga that my blood has actually begun to boil. This is Michael Gove offering yet another palpably false defence of his ally Dominic Cummins:

Dominic Cummings did not break guidelines in leaving his home after his wife fell ill because she did not have the two coronavirus symptoms, Michael Gove has said.

The Prime Minister’s chief adviser yesterday confirmed he had gone to his London home after Mary Wakefield became sick, returning to work later that day in an apparent breach of self-isolation measures. Mr Cummings then drove his family 260-plus miles to his parents’ property in Durham.

But his former boss Mr Gove said this was not breaking the Government’s rules. He told the Today programme: “It is the case that while Mary was ill, it was not the case she had Covid-19 symptoms. She did not have fever or persistent cough.

“The guidance was clear that if people are displaying symptoms then the household should isolate. But it is important to draw distinction between symptoms of Covid-19 and other ill-health.” [1]

But – the whole defence so far has been based on the idea that the trip North was because Cummin’s wife had already come down with Covid-19 and he was about to. These were precisely the “exceptional circumstances” which justified their breaking lockdown rules to travel 260 miles by car.

Now that people have pointed out that by his own account Cummins went home, spoke to his sick wife and then came back to No. 10 which would be a breach of isolation guidance if his wife was ill with Covid-19 Gove rewrites the story to suit this case. The story appears in fact to be totally mutable.


It would be funny but not against the backdrop of 50,000 unnecessary deaths. This is Michael Gove’s latest piece of shape-shifting: “It is the case it was part of the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s guidance that you could drive at that time to take exercise as well.” [2] This relates to the 60 mile round trip to the beauty spot. However; 1) at this time police were penalizing people for taking long drives to beauty spots for exercise and 2) in any event Cummins’ own explanation is that the drive was “to test his eyesight” and, by his own account, he and his wife sat by a river for not more than 15 minutes. This isn’t exercise. It is really disquieting to see a Minister of State producing such senseless lies. It would be at any time, but especially so during a deadly pandemic when what the country needs is responsible leaders at the top. It is clear that this man – one of the government Ministers allegedly leading the response to the crisis is simply unaware of the context of what is going on around him and the gravity of the situation.

And he is not the only one. Matt Hancock, the Health Minister, amazingly enough, keeps repeating the lie about “exceptional circumstances”. Hancock is quite good at spinning and media management and will understand full well that a percentage of people hearing this will fall for it. They will not realise that this only relates to the guidance about isolation and it does not relate to the Public Health Regulations (Coronavirus) 2020 rules about avoiding non-essential travel which Cummins unambiguously broke on 2 occasions. Hancock is more sinister than Gove. Gove is just pathetic; saying anything at all to try to protect his friend without regard to truth, any concept of public accountability or anything like that. Hancock is nasty. He is deliberately deceiving people in a planned and systematic way.  And this is the Health Minister at the time of a national epidemic.

It goes on and on. Here is the Prime Minister: “I’m finding that I have to wear spectacles for the first time in years … I think that’s very, very plausible that eyesight can be a problem associated with coronavirus.” But – this whole point about eyesight is neither here nor there. There is a list of reasonable excuses in the regulations and testing your eyesight isn’t one of them. This is the Prime Minister who just drew up these very laws. He is again just throwing out chaff. The only skill these people appear to possess is the ability to lie and deceive. It certainly isn’t managing an epidemic. The UK has one of the highest deaths per capita in the world together with a hugely damaged economy.


  1. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/05/26/dominic-cummings-latest-news-coronavirus-uk-lockdown-boris-johnson/
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/may/26/tory-unrest-increases-pressure-pm-sack-dominic-cummings
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/may/26/can-coronavirus-affect-eyesight-evidence-is-lacking-say-experts


Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer