AT various points in Dominic Cummings’ testimony to Westminster’s Health and Social Care committee you hoped they were watching in places like India and Italy.

One of the most iniquitous aspects of Team UK’s increasingly desperate attempts to mitigate its early failures in responding to the health crisis was to roam the planet looking for pictures to show how thankful we should be.

“Look, we know a lot of you will emerge from the pandemic minus a granny or two but at least they weren’t lying in the streets begging for oxygen or getting taken to filthy wards on the backs of bicycles.”

The BBC, self-appointed captain of Team GB, has ceased to be a news-gathering operation during the last 15 months and become an emotional crutch.

Announcements of mass job losses were accepted unquestioningly and footage of irresponsible northerners gathering on public transport and thronging beaches came with an unmistakeable patina of disdain. UK ministers queued to be interviewed on BBC Breakfast where a cuddle and a hot cup of tea awaited while the other side was boycotted for its disrespectful line of questioning.

We were invited to recoil at how quickly the infrastructures of less civilised nations were crumbling.

And yet, as Mr Cummings revealed in eye-watering detail on Wednesday, the UK Government’s critical response unit resembled feeding time at the zoo. Three months after initial reports of a lethal pandemic on the loose our Prime Minister was so dismissive of the threat he wanted to get publicly infected by it.

Herd immunity, as Mr Cummings revealed, really was the chosen policy in those crucial early weeks, despite the fact that public health experts were all warning that pursuing this without a vaccine had never been used to deal with infectious diseases.

The UK Government still insists it was only following the science. Perhaps they were, but they seem to have been using the Eric Morecambe approach: playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order.

Devi Sridhar, chair of global public health at Edinburgh University, dismantled this approach yesterday. “The reliance on complex theoretical modelling over the principles of basic infectious disease prevention was a problem; so was groupthink within Sage [Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies]”

As Mr Cummings continued to take his flame-thrower to the administration he’d helped into power you could predict the means by which his targets would defend themselves. This was all about revenge, they insisted. “We all knew he was a bit of an oddball, so really, there’s nothing to see here.”

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That all of his conscripted detractors were only there because of Mr Cummings’ dark genius seemed incidental. In the last five years this “oddball” had orchestrated an unlikely Brexit triumph before securing a comfortable electoral majority for its chief proponents. His attention to detail and knack for reading the runes in places that had never previously registered on the Tories’ collective SatNav have made this party virtually unassailable in England. Yet, within a year the people who benefited from his intellect and instincts are insisting he’s an unreliable witness. Aye, right.

Some of the Prime Minister’s defenders compared his coronavirus ordeal to the challenge faced by Winston Churchill at the start of the Second World War. “Look, the PM’s done well in the circumstances.” This though, doesn’t bear much scrutiny either. Arguably, Britain, facing conquest, slaughter, and enslavement from the greatest military force since the Romans started the war from a much weaker position than the modern, affluent, technologically advanced state that had been given due warning about this pandemic.

Of course, some things remain unchanged since 1939. Britain is still run by a tiny, upper-class, elite drawn almost exclusively from a handful of select finishing schools and Oxford’s aristocratic drinking-clubs. The problem in 2021, though, is that in those sepia-remembered days 80 years ago at least it was an elite that included some quality.

These people – the Hancocks; the Williamsons; the Rees-Moggs – are the dreck: only there because of their slavish devotion to Brexit. They have built a sordid little mafia industry on the side, ever eager to exploit the pandemic for their own personal enrichment.

As Matt Hancock got into his ministerial car on Thursday morning, he was wearing a Union Jack face-mask, this being the establishment’s chosen motif of defiance throughout the pandemic. It’s deployed shamelessly to bend England’s working-class communities to their will while spinning lines about togetherness and remaining steadfast – just like Winston. Amidst it all, the royal family are expected to earn their keep.

To carry it off they need the acquiescence of those in the Labour Party who have made their fortunes posing as champions of the people. What do you think that off-the-books meeting between Prince William and Gordon Brown was all about last week?

The Scottish Government may yet have its own questions to answer and not just those about its early strategy around care homes. Unlike Boris Johnson, our First Minister maintains closer control of those she permits to be inside her very small tent. You won’t find any whistleblowers at Bute House. Yesterday, she consigned Glasgow to yet another week in punitive, Level Three lockdown restrictions. The city is home to some of the most intense concentrations of multi-deprivation in Europe, a critical factor in the stubbornly high case numbers.

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Glaswegians will grumble, but continue to hunker down, trusting that Nicola Sturgeon is doing it for the best. This trust comes with a caveat though. For, when Holyrood seeks to plot Scotland’s Covid recovery, at its heart there must be a preferential option for Glasgow. The metropolitan city-region of Glasgow accounts for almost a third of Scotland’s population and these communities will be hit hardest by the job losses and lifeline service cuts to come.

The physical and mental scarring they’ll experience will deserve special attention. The Scottish Government could signal its commitment to addressing this by establishing a Minister for Glasgow with full cabinet responsibility. Scotland’s largest and most important city has been under-represented in Government for many years, but now more than ever it needs the First Minister to prioritise its needs.