Honesty and competence are no longer valued in political leaders – and the former No 10 adviser is one of the reasons why
He did not quite shoot people on Fifth Avenue, but he came pretty close. According to his former closest adviser, Boris Johnson and his government are responsible for the fact that “Tens of thousands of people died who didn’t need to die.” And yet, so far, there are few signs that the prime minister will pay a price for the acts of criminal, murderous negligence that Dominic Cummings sought to pin on him. On the contrary, his approval ratings are in rude good health, with the opposition limping far behind. Just as Donald Trump bragged that he could stand in the centre of Manhattan gunning people down and still not lose any votes, so Johnson can apparently survive the charge that he has the blood of innocents on his hands, levelled at him by the man who was once his most senior lieutenant.
The Cummings testimony, delivered in seven sensational hours on Wednesday, should be devastating for a sitting prime minister. To have his former chief adviser tell MPs that he was “unfit” for the job, that he had bungled and botched life-and-death decisions affecting millions, that he led a government that had failed “when the public needed us most”, should be a disqualifying event, triggering talk of resignation and motions of no confidence. That it isn’t turns on the personalities of the men involved and the current public mood, but also something deeper and more troubling about the politics of the age.