As we struggle to get back on our feet after the biggest public health emergency in several generations, it would be comforting to picture the people in charge of steering the recovery as calm, capable and focused on the task in hand.
Instead we are treated to the unseemly spectacle of a bunch of grown men squabbling over who called who a bad name and competing to see whose Whatsapp messages contained the fruitiest swear words.
The latest fallout from the falling out between Dominic Cummings and his former paymasters in Downing Street has dragged the standard of debate – and public confidence – several notches lower.
Private messages published by the former aide as part of a 7,000-word blog post suggest Boris Johnson described Matt Hancock as “hopeless” early in the coronavirus pandemic and that the Health Secretary tried to blame others, including Chancellor Rishi Sunak, for PPE shortages in April last year.
Mr Cummings, who left Downing Street in disgrace after he was accused of briefing against the Prime Minister, says he wants to combat “lies” from Number 10 and plans to charge subscribers for insider information on subjects other than the pandemic.
It would be a pathetic way to behave at the best of times.
But as the loved ones of the 128,000 UK citizens who have died from Covid 19, or the 1.8 million still on furlough, or the 1.6 million out of work as a recession looms might remind the government – these are not the best of times.
A No 10 spokesman insisted Mr Johnson has full confidence in the Health Secretary and is focused on ” delivering on the public’s priorities.
We can only hope that is true. But this bickering demeans everyone involved and is swallowing up energy that would be better spent on getting the UK out of this mess.
It’s a pandemic, not a playground. Save this for your own time children, we need to see some grown-ups getting on with the job.