BBC bias just went nuclear to defend disgraced Dominic Cummings

The BBC logo and Dominic Cummings
Steve Topple

Dominic Cummings is at the centre of yet another scandal during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. The Mirror reported that he was investigated by police after allegedly breaking lockdown rules. But Cummings needn’t worry. Because he had the BBC on hand to leap to his defence.

Cummings: did he break lockdown rules?

On 22 May, the Mirror and Guardian ran a joint exclusive that revealed Cummings, Boris Johnson’s “top aide”, allegedly flouted rules surrounding self-isolation and lockdown. It claimed that:

The Prime Minister’s chief-of-staff was spotted by witnesses at his parents’ home in Durham, more than 250 miles from his London property.

The Mirror further claimed:

Mr Cummings started suffering from a bout of coronavirus at the end of March which left him self-isolating with his wife, journalist Mary Wakefield, and young son for 14 days.

Downing Street claimed he was holed up in his London home – and afterwards his wife wrote about ’emerging from quarantine’ into the London lockdown.

But a joint investigation by the Mirror and the Guardian can reveal that Mr Cummings was in fact in the North of England.

The Mirror went on to detail how a neighbour of Cummings’ parents had spotted him and his son in the garden. And in the most bizarre twist (if that’s possible) to this story, Abba’s Dancing Queen was allegedly “blasting” out of the house. But the bigger point is a senior government adviser breached coronavirus rules.

Downing Street says…

After declining to comment at first, Sky News reported that a Downing Street spokesperson essentially denied part of the story. They said:

Owing to his wife being infected with suspected coronavirus and the high likelihood that he would himself become unwell, it was essential for Dominic Cummings to ensure his young child could be properly cared for…

His sister and nieces had volunteered to help so he went to a house near to but separate from his extended family in case their help was needed. His sister shopped for the family and left everything outside. At no stage was he or his family spoken to by the police about this matter, as is being reported. His actions were in line with coronavirus guidelines. Mr Cummings believes he behaved reasonably and legally.

So, it seems that while Cummings did travel to Durham, he didn’t stay in his parent’s house and the police weren’t involved. Allegedly. This is despite even the Tory-friendly Sun reporting that police had confirmed they had visited Cummings’ parents’ house.

I ain’t getting on no plane!

Then, the situation all went a bit like the 80s TV show The A-Team. That is, as the opening lines of its titles used to say:

If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire: The A-Team.

Cummings clearly has his ‘A-Team’ on speed dial. Because the BBC quickly stepped in.

First, analysis from political correspondent Leila Nathoo said that:

A source close to Dominic Cummings is insistent that he didn’t break the rules.

Next up, and BBC Radio 4 Today also fell into line:

But it was political editor Laura Kuenssberg whose response to the Mirror scoop was perhaps most staggering.

Enter Kuenssberg

OK, so she effectively put Cummings’ side of the story across – using those always dubious “sources” that got her and other journalists into hot water during the 2019 general election:

More “details” emerged from Kuenssberg. Problem is, these were not “details”, in fact, but a repetition of what Downing Street itself claimed:

But the BBC‘s political editor also perhaps did the most unsubtle bit of defence possible on Cummings’ behalf. As she literally went onto the Twitter timeline of her counterpart at the Mirror Pippa Crerar to effectively rebut the story:

Shilling for the Tories?

This is clearly not how an impartial journalist at the nation’s public service broadcaster should act. But this is the BBC, which already has form on defending Cummings in the past. Moreover, as The Canary previously reported, a senior journalist at the broadcaster confessed that its role during the pandemic has been to:

provide what the nation needs… It needs to know what’s being done about testing [for coronavirus]. It doesn’t need a great bust-up about what’s gone wrong in the recent past… the bosses are keen that we come out of this with the sense that we looked after the interest of the nation, not just our journalistic values.

So leaping to the government’s defence is all in a day’s work for the BBC. But, above the broadcaster’s shilling on behalf of the Tories, there’s a bigger point to be made about Cummings’ actions.

As a parent, Cummings was understandably concerned about the welfare of his child. But his actions reek of hypocrisy and a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ agenda. And moreover, his behaviour shows the gaping inequality at the heart of the pandemic, and UK society.

Starving children

As the Observer reported, nearly a fifth of households with children did not have enough food to eat in the five weeks leading up to May. It also noted that:

A reported 30% of lone parents and 46% of parents with a disabled child are facing food insecurity

And:

of the 621,000 children who were accessing free breakfast clubs before the pandemic, only 136,000 are being provided with an alternative. However, 31% of children entitled to free school meals are still not getting any substitute, leaving more than 500,000 children going without.

Then, around 700,000 children aged 11-18 have no internet access via a computer or laptop – while being expected to do school work at home. So the pandemic, and the Tories’ unpreparedness, has hit the poorest children in the UK the hardest. And the government has also almost forgotten the estimated 800,000 young carers aged 5-17 in the UK. In 2011, one in eight young carers were under the age of eight. As Sky News reported, Phoebe, aged eight, not only has to look after their chronically ill mother, but also her two sisters aged four and six. But so far, the government has done little to support children like her. And during the pandemic, Phoebe’s already difficult situation has probably been made a whole lot worse.

Our broken society: exacerbated by the BBC 

We live in a society where some children have been going through hell during the pandemic. Others, though, get to travel across the country to be protected from it. This is the real problem with the Cummings scandal. So the BBC leaping to his defence is damning. But its failure to recognise the horrendous inequality his actions sum up is another part of this disgraceful, systemic problem.

Featured image via Tim Loudon – Flickr and the Sun – YouTube

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  • Show Comments
    1. It was with increasing disbelief and then anger that I listened to:
      Mishal Husain keeping on asking Ian Blackford
      “What would you do” if you and your partner were both seriously ill
      and your sister offered to look after your 4yo?”
      Not that I have any liking for the very wealthy Blackford or his politics.
      But Husain’s refusal to stick to the issue preferring to attack Blackford
      was yet more blatant evidence of how the BBC has reverted to its
      role as a mouthpiece for the Tory party.
      Despite protest after protest about Kuenssberg’s consistent support
      for all things Tory, she continues with her mission.
      When her contract comes to an end it’s an even’s bet whether she is
      made a Tory Peer or Heads up the “Today” team.

    2. Kuenssberg’s heading towards the House of Lords – services to ‘journalism’!
      That last bit really requires a laughing emoji in case anybody fails to see the satire.
      She’d have been perfectly at home in the Third Reich.; she has not a single redeeming virtue.

    3. Published on 23rd April by commissioning editor at The Spectator, Mary Wakefield, wife of Dominic Cummings, her own personal story about their family’s ordeal with Covid-19. Nowhere does it mention a trip to Durham. Did she forget they’d gone or was this mush all a complete lie? Two days later she went on Radio 4’s Today programme to read it out as an example of people who’d got through the virus. (Programme only available on iPlayer for one more day – listen about 1hr 47 mins in)
      https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000hmyy
      Did she mention they’d struggled to pack bags, and travel up north in some emergency childcare search? Perhaps there would have been a good cover for his ‘reasonable’ excuse for breaking lockdown.
      She has completely blown this cover.
      If their child had been at such risk then they should have been collected but no, he actually played his part at his father’s side administering Ribena to him. It’s all really quite cheery apart from poor Dom unable to breathe. Until husband gets quite poorly she’s become expert at building models a la Blue Peter. She also had an epiphany although it seems a strange way to demonstrate conversion.
      Millions of families have suffered alone following the rules but hey, it’s ok if you’re connected to .gov. If theirs had been a ‘reasonable’ excuse then why wouldn’t .gov say where he was while he was in his self-isolation period? They either didn’t know – his wife clearly didn’t tell many people – or they knew and covered it up because they knew the outrage and break up of the lockdown if the truth was outed. Truth always outs.
      Are the BBC going to take .gov to task?

    4. You are all forgetting that in this country after years of Tory rule, we are all equal and all in it together !

      Of course some people are a lot more equal than others

      And to show how we are all in it together, some of those same people pay less tax than their Nannies and Gardeners.

      The BBC are losing the confidence of the British people massively, Their bias is now so plain to anyone that they don’t even bother to try and hide it, either that or they are not clever enough.

      Here’s a question for you, name one BBC hack (sorry respected Journalist) who is clearly left wing? Now name any that are clearly right wing? And for a bonus point name any BBC programme that has treated Jeremy Corbyn fairly or with respect.

      Finally here’s a tip for you, you can always tell when BBC political commentators are lying because their lips will be moving.

    5. A democratic society (wouldn’t it be lovely) needs a democratic media. We have capitalist media on the one hand, State media on the other. Capitalism and the State are the two collectivities between which we are trapped, dehumanised and quantified. The privately educated Kuensberg ( almost all BBC newsreaders are), who hails from a very well-heeled background, exhibits an almost reflex defence of the status quo over every serious issue. As for Radio 4 (Toady and PM) their performance over the factitious claim that Labour is “institutionally anti-Semitic” a claim as absurd that it is institutionally alcoholic, or paedophilic or domestic abusive because, no doubt, some of its 500,000 members are, leaves any democrat convinced Big Brother is in the studio and the memory hole crammed full. The BBC’s compliance with the Zionist fantasy that they are utterly virtuous and any critic a vile anti-Semite is nothing like holding power to account. Thus, in this pathetic episode in which an adviser of wild ideas who seems to think Bismark is the answer to everything and clearly exhibits that entitlement and contempt for the common rules and decencies which characterises his class and its woeful current leadership, the diaphanous excuses are taken as proper justifications and the contempt of the elite for the rest of us put on dismal display. If he is sacked will we be satisfied? We shouldn’t be. We should work night and day to dispense with this rotten status quo and to create the egalitarian, open democracy in which we can flourish.

    6. It’s undeniably he’s an absolutely fascinating chap. Incredible how Cummings, like Jeremy Corbyn did, has garnered an ongoing visceral hatred from vultures across the divides of politics and varied hate-mongering righteous bubbles supposed to be forgiving of their ethics. Seeing him as Brexit-carrion has probably something to do also with ravenous Remainers circling around Cummings as well when blood and gore is at it’s stenchiest in summer’s political contagion carrying heat. This Labour Leave writer has no remit to support Cummings per se or the Tories in toto. However, one rather relishes his bloody corpse mauled, let’s face it, by so many inconsequential nobodies – and, though battered and bruised, one wants Cummings to weather wounds – which of his own wounds Mr Corbyn gave up to and succumbed with wretched weakness.

    7. Every time I hear the words “Dominic Cummings” I get a mental image of Nosher Powell in “Eat the Rich” shouting, “I want a cover-up! A BIG cover up!” after he has been caught eating human flesh in the eponymous restaurant; does anyone apart from me call him Dominic “It’s in the trees! It’s…” Cummings?

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