James O'Brien: 'Cummings or Johnson - who's telling the truth?'

24 May 2021, 13:18

By Fiona Jones

The Government has denied ex-advisor Dominic Cummings' claims that ministers had backed a policy of herd immunity then lied about doing so. James O'Brien theorised who was telling the truth.

In a series of over fifty damning Tweets, Dominic Cummings also claimed that if "competent" people had been in charge at least two lockdowns could have been avoided.

In one Tweet he directly slammed the Health Secretary: "Media generally abysmal on covid but even I’ve been surprised by 1 thing: how many hacks have parroted Hancock’s line that ‘herd immunity wasn’t the plan’ when ‘herd immunity by Sep’ was *literally the official plan in all docs/graphs/meetings* until it was ditched”.

James asked listeners whose account of the early pandemic handling was true, giving three possible answers: "One answer is Cummings, one answer is Johnson, and one answer is neither of them."

"There's a little bit of me that leans towards option three on this because Cummings clearly possesses that slightly sociopathic ability to completely rewrite history in the hope of casting himself in a positive light, so I don't trust Dominic Cummings completely.

He interjected his theory: "The minute you start thinking this is quite enjoyable, you remember it's the national interest, it's national security and national health that are the pawns in these psychodramas."

James, continuing, said, "Cummings seems to be trying to rewrite history in the same way he rewrote his blog, he inserted something into his blog to make it look like he predicted the pandemic when it was quickly established...he added that after he returned to work.

"Johnson I think only tells the truth by accident or if he thinks it's going to be more useful to him than a lie."

James used the example of the Northern Irish sea border where "even at the start of the year" his Government was claiming "there wasn't one".

"That notion of honesty, that set sail many moons ago which is why I suspect if we were to get the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, it would be a slightly diluted version of what Cummings alleges, as in Johnson did bodge it and cause Covid chaos but not on the scale and not in such an inexcusable fashion that Dominic Cummings would attest," James said.

He surmised that Cummings is suggesting that the Government wanted Covid to "run through the population" with non-vulnerable people building immunity - yet clearly, James said, it was quickly concluded "that wouldn't work therefore lockdowns were the answer."

James commented that the lockdown was "fatally late": "Part of the reason why it was so late would appear to be a) a resistance to the very idea of lockdown and b) if Cummings is to be believed, the fact that the Prime Minister was a bit too busy with the biography of William Shakespeare to focus on a pandemic that went on to kill 128,000 people he supposedly governs."

He reflected on "how far we've fallen", unable to believe this is a factual sentence he has uttered.

Dominic Cummings is set to appear before a joint Commons select committee inquiry into the handling of Covid-19 on Wednesday.

He is understood to be preparing to produce incriminating texts, emails and WhatsApp messages detailing what he sees as serial incompetence in handling the response to Covid-19 while he was Boris Johnson's closest adviser.

Read more: Dominic Cummings threatens to release 'crucial' Covid document in tweet