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An Orwellian spotlight on the British Government

The infamous Dominic Cummings has presented the British public with a chilling exposure to politics; the laws created are not followed by their creators. Yet what is more unsettling than the failure of rule of law


The infamous Dominic Cummings has presented the British public with a chilling exposure to politics; the laws created are not followed by their creators.

Yet what is more unsettling than the failure of rule of law is the uncanny similarities between the laws functioning in the UK, and the laws functioning in George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’.

A timeline of the facts:

On the 23rd of March, the public was instructed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “stay home”. On the 27th of March, Cummings was photographed running from Downing Street, later attributing his abrupt departure to his wife’s sudden decline in health.

Later that day, he and his family embarked on the journey from London to Durham. The law states that under lock-down rules, households must remain at their primary residence, instructing Cummings to thus remain in London and obey essential travel demands. Instead, the family sought refuge at his father’s Durham estate.

On the 12th of April, after having stayed in Durham whilst experiencing Covid-19 symptoms for over two weeks, Cummings and his wife made the decision to return to London on the 13th of April. Regarding the safety of the oncoming departure, Cummings drove his family to Barnard Castle; a popular tourist destination 25 miles from the residence in which he was staying. On the one hand, this drive breached the essential travel advice. On the other hand, Cummings violated section 96 of the 1988 Road Traffic Act, by driving when his eyesight was questionable. Having taken this journey, Cummings concluded that it was safe to drive back to London, arriving at his primary residence on the 13th of April.

The nation reads this timeline with honest resentment. It is easy to dislike such a man when other families have experienced immense pressures due to laws imposed upon them by Cummings’ government. Why have individuals suffered these regulations when they do not apply equally to all citizens? Why should individuals continue to abide by government advice if the government is not willing to take it themselves?

Animal Farm versus the British Government

The injustice operating in Britain is what allows us to make connections between reality and George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Within the novella, the government of pigs form a list of ‘Seven Commandments’, in which every animal of the farm must follow.

These instructions are described as the “unalterable law” of the land, which provides the illusion that the farm will function with equal application of law, thus ensuring equality of individuals when experiencing hardships. Here it is possible to connect the literature to the current lock-down rules; the British government prides itself on rule of law, thus equally providing the assumption that these quarantine rules will be applicable to all.

However, as the book progresses, the pigs begin to abuse their powers as leaders, and contradict the rules that they wrote themselves. Despite once ordering that “no animal shall drink alcohol”, it is later discovered that the pigs indulge their superiority by drinking in the evenings, attempting to hide this activity and proclaim that “all animals are equal”. The deception provided here sounds somewhat familiar, echoing Cummings’ drive to Durham despite his assurance that “we are all in this together”, and must all “stay home” as a nation. Orwell writes to expose the blatant hypocrisy of the farm’s elite. Is it possible that Cummings acts as the protagonist of a similar tale?

Yet the similarities do not end here. The coalition of the pigs (representing members of the government) work together to avoid any exposure of corruption. If one animal leaked the misconduct, the entire establishment of the government would be at threat. Equally, the noticeable silence from our current cabinet raises suspicion as to what our government holds as a priority. Are our political leaders concerned with equal application of law, or do they prioritise party-unity above justice? What are these individuals going to do to ensure that this outrage is met with morality? And most importantly, what does this say about our current political institution?

The nation is assured that “we are all in this together”, yet it increasingly feels like “all animals are created equal, but some animals are created more equal than others”.

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