Out of tragedy can come hope, however fleeting. Some use the loss of a love as a force for good: to make amends, to change the way they live their lives, or to set up a charitable foundation with which to raise much needed funds for a noble cause. Caroline Flack’s death, for but a brief period, brought the well meaning together to rally behind the hashtag of #bekind which, predictably, didn’t last long before human nature reverted to type and the bullying tendencies of the critical masses once again commenced.

Now I make no bones about my lack of political allegiance. Although I have a fevered interest in the subject matter, not for the me are the Cummings and goings of politics, as I do not fully buy into any of the parties’ ethos. There are many of us political atheists: we are not a dying breed, as, non-blinkered, we see through the fog with the belief that you do not have to be yellow, blue, red or green skinned, as it's ok to be a critical shade of gunship grey.

So, taking a neutral standpoint away from the parliamentary cults with which the populace align, we sneak a peek at the Dominic Cummings ‘affair’ (no, he hasn’t had one - but no doubt you'll made aware via social media immediately if he does) with bemusement and disbelief.

Now, I’m no ‘fanboy’ of the premier civil servant, who one must surmise is there through merit, not election. Arguably, he has behaved badly and is a very naughty boy. He has been party to a decision that has directed millions of citizens to act in a manner, before deliberately doing the complete opposite, whatever his justification. His situation was not helped by ludicrously ‘testing his eyesight’ as he took his wife to a castle on what happened to be her birthday. If what he has done is not legally beyond the pale, it is certainly morally wrong and there is little defence he can offer that will change that.

However, he has not murdered anyone. He has not committed the heinous crimes of rape, child abuse or other such societal nasty. He is no Jimmy Saville, Ian Huntley or Peter Sutcliffe, yet the venom with which he has been met for the previous couple of weeks would lead you to believe that his crime is far worse than going to Durham to visit his parents.

The press, who are challenging him for not socially distancing, are not socially distancing as they gather outside his house in a rabid pack. Reporters took non-essential journeys to ring on the doorbell of his parents, and the clamour for him to resign reaches a crescendo with every passing day.

But then you ask why the forcefulness of the clamour? When Ant McPartlin crashes his car into another vehicle carrying a small child after drinking, he was sympathised with, and afforded support, help and well meaning. Yet Cummings, unlikeable as he may be, is a former director of Vote Leave and architect of the bringing down of the northern red wall. His enemies, of which there are many, remain unwilling to accept defeat as they wait around impatiently like dogs eying up a juicy sacrificial bone. They stand primed, ready to ravage the slightest misdemeanour and now, in lieu of something much much bigger, they are pouncing on their opportunity.

Even local MPs have written complaints letters to the PM to explain how constituents feel as they continue on a quest to lose a man his career. Yet, despite such ravenous intent, it looks to the reasoned observer that such interventions do little but smack of opportunism.

So, we read these letters of angst, social media posts, and questioning of the Prime Minister as if this is the premium issue affecting the country today. What about the ongoing lack of challenge from police forces across the country toward child grooming gangs? What about the disgraceful decision to prosecute forces veterans for events from yesteryear? What about the lack of challenge toward the Chinese government for the way they torture Muslims or hide information which has ultimately cost hundreds of thousands of lives? What about the British government awarding a 5G contract to Huawei? How about the cold-blooded murder of George Floyd and the stateside police racism and brutality?

All these issues merited challenge arguably more so than some dishonest civil servant who has acted disingenuously. I would like to see the public, the press and politicians put aside feelings of political vengeance and act in a manner which takes them off the jury of the online kangaroo court. When we see action taken toward the issues mentioned above, then maybe many of us will throw our weight behind following a political party or cause, but in the meantime we will sit on the sidelines waiting for those we pay to represent us to stop using party driven vendettas as a tool to do a job that doesn't need to be done.

#bekind was, sadly, in hindsight, a bridge too far and arguably nothing but virtue signalling. Maybe now’s the time for the hashtag #benasty. At least we could be upfront about it and stop feigning mock shock as we hide behind ulterior motives with which to put across alternative agendas.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher