The Scottish Mail on Sunday

If Dominic Cummings calls me bonkers, you know I must be right!

- Peter Hitchens Read Peter’s blog at hitchensbl­og.mailonsund­ and follow him on Twitter @clarkemica­h

BEING called ‘bonkers’ by Dominic Cummings is a bit like being called ‘fat’ by the late Cyril Smith or ‘intolerant’ by the late Ian Paisley. So not all that deeply wounding. But it is important in its way. Let me explain.

Some of you may have seen that Mr Cummings claims to have heard the Prime Minister endorse my doubts, published in The Mail on Sunday, about throttling the country in an attempt to defeat Covid.

These were doubts which Mr Cummings dismissed, describing me as ‘Bonkers’. But he claims the First Lord of the Treasury replied: ‘The trouble is, Dom, I’m with Bonkers. My heart is with Bonkers. I don’t believe in any of this. It’s all bull **** .’

Now, I know our Premier a tiny bit. Parts of him are likeable, though I doubt whether any male person ever gets properly close to him. When he was editor of The Spectator, we co-operated in some mischief against Michael Portillo, which both of us enjoyed.

But if his heart was with me, no other piece of him was, and he duly shut down the country as Mr Cummings wanted us to do (even though he himself did not believe the rules applied to him).

I strongly suspect that Johnson will very shortly shut it down again, on the usual basis of dodgy statistics and bad logic. For if he doesn’t, there will certainly be a putsch against him by the zeroCovid zealots who have seized control of the Government machine.

I would argue against this but I know it would be futile. I have seen too many former friends reduced to terrified, unreasonin­g, masked husks by the Covid panic. And I know that any attempt to get it into proportion will only lead to slanderous shrieks and screeches of ‘You want to kill the old! You are heartless and cruel!’ So why bother?

But I would make this small point. People who loathe my beliefs have been calling me ‘bonkers’ for a very long time. I was first given the name when, in the early 1980s, I was reporting on trade union affairs and on the many strikes which then convulsed the country and helped to ruin it. I think it fair to say that a lot of the reporters covering that beat were sympatheti­c to union militancy. Some were closer than I would ever have liked to be to the Communist Party’s highly effective and deeply embedded industrial organisati­on.

My sympathies were much more with the old sort of Rightwing Labour which has now pretty much vanished, patriotic and anti-Communist.

WHEN it became obvious I wasn’t one of the Leftwing lads, the sneering started. Several people who were neither one thing or another joined in because there was one of me and quite a few of them, and it was easier. I remember being surprised to find adults behaving in this playground way. But the aim was to shut me up. It’s come up again, from time to time, on other occasions when I haven’t followed the current groupthink. I don’t like it. But I’m used to it.

I’d now ask, looking at the disastrous self-destructio­n of British militant trade unionism, and the equally miserable collapse of the old Soviet Union, who was bonkers and who was sane back then?

But four decades later, who remembers all that except me? And when, years from now, a levelheade­d assessment is made of these equally bonkers times, I won’t be around to say ‘I told you so’. So I’ll say it now.

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