An open letter to MP Trudy Harrison, Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, from Jack Lenox, Green Party candidate for Copeland in the 2019 General Election
Just a couple of months ago I was looking forward to meeting you to discuss working together on environmental matters in Copeland. Our meeting was postponed due to the pandemic. Regrettably, I am writing to inform you we no longer need to reschedule.
I was delighted when you became one of the few Conservative MPs to publicly support the Divest Parliament campaign – a campaign to divest the MP Pension Fund from fossil fuels and invest instead in renewables. Despite our political differences, I had always thought that when push came to shove, you would do the right thing. Unfortunately your behaviour over the past few days has proved me wrong.
Several weeks ago on BBC Radio Cumbria, you were pleading with the people of our constituency to follow the very clear, and very simple guidelines: stay home, protect the NHS, save lives. And yet on Tuesday, you were quite happy to take to the airwaves to defend Dominic Cummings’ actions. You glibly asserted that he knew the rules better than most and that what he did was entirely within the guidelines for anyone who had bothered to read the smallprint.
I did read the smallprint. And along with dozens of your colleagues – including your neighbouring MP John Stevenson – I came quickly to the same view as Durham Constabulary that Dominic Cummings indeed broke the rules of the lockdown. The rules that he, himself, co-authored. Hundreds of thousands of people have found themselves in the same position as Dominic Cummings, and many of them in less privileged circumstances. If everyone had adopted the same reckless disregard for the rules as Mr Cummings, there would have scarcely been a lockdown.
However, to be frank, this isn’t really about whether or not Dominic Cummings broke the rules. As many commentators have pointed out, Mr Cummings – along with your Prime Minister – could have issued an apology, conceded that the circumstances he found himself in had clouded his judgement and led him to break the rules. Mr Johnson could have stated that he had accepted Mr Cummings’ apology, that he didn’t feel it necessary for him to lose his job, and that he considered the matter closed. No doubt there would still have been a significant degree of criticism, but this would at least have shown a degree of respect for the British public.
Instead, your Government has burnt all its political capital trying to suggest that Mr Cummings did nothing wrong. And that it was perfectly reasonable to make a round trip of over an hour to test his eyesight. All this while stopping off at a beauty spot, coincidentally on his wife’s birthday.
And while your colleague Michael Gove might find this funny, as he descended into giggling trying to claim he would drive 30 miles to test his eyesight on LBC, I don’t find our excess death toll rising above 60,000 to be a laughing matter.
I couldn’t be more furious and disappointed with the utter misery that your Prime Minister has inflicted on this country at its time of greatest need.
Green Party candidate for Copeland in the 2019 General Election
Trudy Harrison MP has provided the following response to Jack Lenox’ open letter to her above:
“This is politics at its lowest. The Police have now confirmed that no action will be taken and the Prime Minister made his decision that the particular circumstances which led to the exemption to the guidelines was justified, in the same way that Jenny Harries explained to the nation the rationale for exceptions at a press conference back in March. I do agree however, that things could and should have been more transparent, and would also go so far as to say that I would not have made those same decisions. When people ask why should they now follow the Government’s guidelines, my response is quite simply because this is how we will beat this awful virus – and that must be the priority of each and every one of us.
“I was disappointed to say the least that Jack decided to avoid the opportunity to work together. I respect and value his passion for our planet and think highly of him as an individual. I wanted to engage Jack in plans for both Keswick and our country – and still do. As the PM’s PPS I have an insight into policy which could make a real difference, I hope in time that Jack will reconsider but in the meantime if there are individuals, groups or businesses that would like to join with me in developing both local and wider policies to create healthier, more environmentally sound ways of living, I welcome ideas and collaboration. We now know that an individual’s health contributes significantly to their outcome of fighting and indeed surviving Covid-19. It is therefore more important than ever to adopt more healthy environments and lifestyles, all of which coincide with sound environmental policies. My message to Jack is to think again, there is much more at stake here and we would be better working together.”