I started writing this column on Saturday morning before the full implications of the Dominic Cummings scandal became apparent.

My initial intention had been to write an ‘amusing’ piece about why McDonald’s had snubbed us up north and had declined to open restaurants here, favouring the south east.

And maybe follow that up with some cutting sarcasm about how Wetherspoons is desperate to reopen its pubs and the plans it intends to put in place to ensure the safety of its staff and customers.

Then maybe I would have moved on to plans to reopen schools and whether or not that was a safe thing to do. And maybe I would have rounded off my column by referencing the official death figures supplied by the Department of Health and Social Care and the Office (DHSC) or National Statistics (OBS).

But I scrapped all that after the country was overtaken by events from Westminster surrounding Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s senior special adviser and the subsequent Covid-19 press briefing hosted by Boris Johnson.

I fully accept that by the time you read this, the situation may well have moved on, so for the avoidance of doubt, this column was written at lunchtime on Monday, May 25.

Let’s just put the events in the context of the government’s response and handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

At the time of writing, there have been 36,793 deaths from Covid-19 with a positive test result as of May 23 (source: DHSC).

If that’s not a chilling enough statistic, the Office for National Statistic reported on May 8 (so will be considerably higher now) that 41,020 had died and Covid-19 had been mentioned on the death certificate. But most chillingly, the number of deaths over and above the usual number at this time of year stood at 54,437.

Just pause for a moment and take in that last figure. There have been more than 54,000 excess deaths.

This country has suffered one of the highest death tolls in the world, although we are likely to be overtaken by Russia and Brazil as time goes on.

We were too late locking down and we were too late getting adequate personal protective equipment for front line medical staff. The sole objective of the government was to ensure the NHS was not overrun and as a result, elderly and vulnerable people were discharged from hospitals without being tested, seeding the virus into the care home sector causing absolute carnage.

We were told to ‘stay home’. That was the way we were going to ‘flatten the curve’. And people listened to that clear instruction and we did as we were told.

For me, personally, lockdown has been manageable. I can work from home so I’ve had something to keep me busy and I’ve been able to get food delivered. I have a small garden I can sit out in. I’ve taken my state-sanctioned exercise and I’m not on my own in lockdown so I’m not lonely.

The worst that we have suffered is not being able to see our family and we’ve missed a couple of birthday celebrations.

But for others, lockdown has been a traumatic ordeal. The have had to say goodbye to dying loved ones over Zoom. Some have not been able to go to their child’s funeral. Single parents have had to try to entertain children in a small flat and families have been torn apart.

But we did what we were told because it was the right thing to do. We were saving lives.

And then we find out that Dominic Cummings, the man right at the heart of government, has ignored the very advice he was the architect of, bundling his cornonavirus-positive wife and small son into a car and driving almost 270 miles from his London home to the home of his parents in Durham.

Such hypocrisy, such contempt for us, the ‘little people’. It’s one law for the elite and one law for the rest of us. It comes across very much a case of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ and a massive slap in the face for every one of us who has not only obeyed the letter of the lockdown laws but the spirit of them as well because it was the right thing to do to stop this killer virus spreading.

So was Mr Cummings sacked for this flagrant breech of government regulations, put in place to save lives? Far from it (at the time of writing).

Not only was he not sacked, he was publicly backed by the Prime Minister and that support effectively trashed the government’s public health policy over coronavirus. Now, it appears, if you believe you are doing the right thing, you can just go ahead and do it irrespective of what the law says.

And worse, Johnson’s statement that Cummings only did what any loving father would do was a slap in the face for every mother, father, son and daughter who elected to follow the rules rather that jumping in their car and driving hundreds of miles. In effect, Boris Johnson has just told you Cummings cares more about his family that you do for yours.

Cummings should have been sacked on the spot and there is something seriously wrong with this country when a Prime Minister elects to save a special adviser over the health and wellbeing of a country.

I would really like to know what our Conservative MPs are thinking at the moment.