So, whether the seemingly indomitable Dom hangs on, it remains to be seen, but attempts to take him down have followed a now predictable path and a screaming acceleration into post-fact baloney.
‘Broken the law…’, ‘Broken the rules…’ – it’s all been swung about like an asexually person-handled Russian Olympic hammer. But let’s have a look at what is meant by some of the key terms being confettied.
Law is the system of rules which a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and which it may enforce by the imposition of penalties. In this case, the issue of lawbreaking hinges on the ‘reasonable excuse’ for leaving the home. Clearly the rozzers thought he had one because he received neither a fixed penalty nor a return ticket. Not even a formal warning.
Now for some of the other terms so readily flicked out.
Guidance. This is advice or information. This is not mandatory (that stuff is enshrined in law) but there to assist decision-making. In the early days of lockdown, the gap between guidance and law caused the greatest issue for Joe Public. The Old Bill were trying to enforce the guidance and got somewhat embarrassingly burned.
So: guidance is neither the law nor ‘the rules’. The ‘rules‘ are the law.
Therefore, neither the law nor the rules were broken.
So, Big Dom may have exercised discretion in not following guidance to the letter, but does that equate to hypocrisy? Arguably not, because following guidance to the letter would not be obligatory for any citizen, and you’d even have to include the author of such guidance in that (even if it were Big D). Authors of policy guidance aren’t obliged to believe what they write to the letter, just to write it well.
That brings us to Instructions, because we’ve heard a lot about these, often directly from ministers and the PM himself. Instructions are obligatory orders. But the obligations on us depend wholly on the authority of the person who gives them.
And ministers have somewhat overplayed their hand on that score. Instructions from ministers, police or whomever are not obligatory unless they are backed by powers derived from the law or reflect the law. In this case, instructions reflected only the guidance, irrespective of how much personal weight were put behind them.
So at worst, The Domster may not have obeyed instructions from his boss. Well, that’s a matter for the boss concerned. The world is full of folk who’ve not strictly obeyed orders, and they remain in post. The reasons for the contravention get considered in the right context, which remains a matter between employee and employer.
The problem with this hullabaloo is that terms like ‘law’ and ‘rules’ have been bandied about as given labels for what has or has not been done, and we’re all being railroaded into accepting that the facts (whatever they might be) support their use.
We’ve taken leave of our senses. A holiday from fact and a reliance on half-terms.
We’ve even witnessed hysterical ripostes from pro-lockdown zealots who have stated that they would now go and visit their own elderly parents. Ah, I get the logic. ‘If Mr Cummings is putting his parents at risk, then I’m going to do the same’.
Now that hissy fit stacks up only if we were all to accept that the lockdown was farcical in the first instance. Well, now we’re getting somewhere. If our present-day society focused on facts and rationales, the chief adviser to the PM would be under most scrutiny for being complicit in a monumental farce that is wrecking our economy and society.
And there would then be a solid justification – and a clear conscience – for the Dom-Dom bullet.