Opinion: Craig Mackinlay MP – Toilets, beaches, schools, Cummings and goings, care homes and a first birthday

Craig Mackinlay

Many debates have raged, often heatedly, over the past couple of weeks about the Coronavirus response and how we now try to move towards a new normality carefully and sensibly. The unseasonably good weather and the government advice to allow further travel and visits to public spaces, whilst observing social distancing, was always going to cause conflict and concern. On the one hand it is eminently possible to remain well spaced from each other in family groups but, as ever, there are fools out there who will disregard common sense.

But by and large over the past weeks we’ve mostly become alert to spacing; the lure of our blue flag beaches meant that we attracted huge numbers of visitors from out of area. This was bound to happen and I’m sorry to say there was a touch of ‘King Canute’ in the local response keeping toilets closed. Whilst many local residents were annoyed at the influx with the usual parking problems which I have long tried to solve, particularly in the Botany Bay area, the greatest anger was the rubbish and use of the beaches and surroundings as open lavatories. I am pleased to see that there is now a limited opening of these facilities.

In defence of Thanet District Council they have struggled to recruit additional staff to properly service the public toilets. This is not at all surprising – would temporary staff really wish to be stuck in a small space, be the marshalls of distancing: one in one out, clean and disinfect on a minute-by-minute basis whilst wearing extensive PPE? It is not a dream occupation no matter what the rate of pay.

We have few big industries in Thanet, but we have lots of smaller ones which come together and that is our tourist offer bringing £320m per year into the area. We need this spending as it trickles down to support much else from retail spending to rent payments. We need to manage this, welcome it where we can and give our local businesses a chance of getting back to normal.

Return to school

The next topic of heated debate is the return to schools and the potential risks of that, but can we really deprive children of social interaction and structured education for much longer? Am I being cynical or has this given various unions in the sector, and Labour led councils around the country the opportunity to flex little-used muscle? You decide. How many parents could get back to safe working but are prevented from doing so because of childcare obligations? Life has risks in all that we do. To remove risks entirely would mean we’d never go in a car – a one ton machine of metal and glass capable of high speed – dreadfully dangerous. We’d avoid any rainstorm for fear of a lightning strike. Whilst a vaccine to Covid-19 is yet to be found, although there are encouraging signs of progress, we will need to manage this new risk within the bounds of our risk-aversity to other daily threats.

Cummings under fire

The Dominic Cummings debate has filled my inbox; whatever really happened, the optics of this are truly bad no matter your viewpoint when we’ve all been so assiduous in our adherence to the rules for so long and given up so much. This story will develop further I’m sure.

Care homes

The numbers in specialist care within hospitals and the rates of new infection are now on a firm downward trend, but I remain deeply worried about the situation in our care homes. In my view the risks were not appropriately recognised at an early enough stage such was the emphasis, right at the time, for the policy to be one of protecting the capacity of the NHS. Hindsight makes us all expert analysts. The lasting analysis will be the length and depth of the contraction to the economy which creates every penny of public service expenditure, defence spending and benefit payments. We ignore this at our peril too.

A quiet birthday

Our baby Olivia had her first birthday over the weekend. Hard to believe how an eventful year has flown by. What should have been a party celebration with family and friends was a muted event of just us. This is a sad era, a trying time, but we will overcome. Keep safe, keep sensible.


  1. Come off the fence and do what your colleague in Thanet had the good sense to do… condemn Cummins for his arrogance and demand he develop a little humility and actual integrity and resign. Otherwise, trust in government will drop even further and it will be impossible to get public cooperation. The Health Secretary made it abundantly clear what to do if you had virus symptoms – Stay Home… he even followed that up by saying “this is not a suggestion, it’s an instruction.”

    As for schools your case is weak at best, when the government continually says it is guided by the science but, in this instance, rejected 8 possible scenarios for the re-opening of schools and went for the worst idea of its own… reception classes, the least easy to get to social distance.

    I’ve never voted Tory but admire your Thanet colleague’s stance. He thinks things through rather than just doing what he is told by central office. If you want to be re-elected I suggest you grow a pair and do some thinking rather than parroting the views you are handed down. Now is not the time to be slavishly following the party line. Thousands of people have died, many in Thanet because this government has followed rather than led public opinion. It has havered then acted too late, is it any wonder that the PM has gone from an approval rating of +46 to one of -4!

  2. Care homes problems. This issue was raised by me to Kent County council in mid May, i was not alone being worried about safety of service users and staff, lack of ppe. There was a lack of action by central government who were concentrating on hospitals and forgot about the elderly in care homes, even not counting deaths in the official daily figures until late April.

  3. What about education
    It needs proper safety measures and look at Chinese schools
    What plan have you got to implement safety.. None

    Buses will be struggling with just 11 people on the bus and no standing.

    Fares are still the same with crap service… Buses are not cleaned.

    What about our streets
    They need cleansing properly like in China…

  4. “Return to school

    The next topic of heated debate is the return to schools and the potential risks of that, but can we really deprive children of social interaction and structured education for much longer? Am I being cynical….”

    No. You’re just a creep.

  5. The unseasonably good weather and the government advice to allow further travel and visits to public spaces, whilst observing social.

    Unseasonably weather ??? Do you live here Mackinlay? I wouldnt say this is unseasonably weather, its nearly June what’s unseasonably about warm sunny days in late may early june.

  6. I’m sick of this Cummings sarga. I believe him and I don’t like the the press acting like a pack of wolves. Conservative MPs Yapping he must go. They just jumped on the band wagon so they could get a few seconds of their yapping on the television. If I had my way when newspapers and media in general tell lies and they are found out to be publishing fake news they should fined £5 million each time.

  7. I found Mr Cummings statements to be humanly honest. I am sure, if my Boss had be possibly dying in Hospital, and there is no one else to ask, I would have driven to help my wife and Son. All other questions were based on what the ‘Press’ had invented mostly. Not a complete waste of time, this time. I now believe the man – not the Press ‘poo’ stirrers at the best of times.

  8. You’ve attempted to throw Local council under a bus, normal people, unions, labour council, parents…. yet been non committal on Cummings.

    Take some responsibility for this mess you and your government have created. Don’t play the blame game. We are tired of your same and only trick.

    Get a back bone and represent your area properly and keep us safe.

  9. There are elaborate restrictions on movement because coronavirus is lethal in many cases! Thousands have died, and no doubt hundreds more will also! I have found one obvious cause of infection which I reported to Public Health England! If someone has the virus unbeknownst to them, and they grab a shopping trolley, and cough into their hand as most people do when they cough, they will infect the trolley handle! After shopping they return the trolley to the dock, or give it to another customer, as I have seen, successfully infecting them with the virus too! The virus can live for two to three days on a hard surface!

    Supermarkets in most cases are NOT sanitising shopping trolley handles AFTER every use, and Public Health England say they are unable to take action! Yet their website says they are responsible for “Protecting the nation from health hazards”, and “Responding to Public Health Emergencies”. It sounds like it! So if you use a shopping trolley and the supermarket isn’t sanitising the handles AFTER every use, make sure you sanitise your hands AFTER you have finished, and never pass it to another customer! Over to you Mr Mackinlay, make yourself useful and pass this information on and get something done about this obvious national health hazard!

  10. Another insight-free yet infuriating column from our non-resident MP, more interested in having a pop at unions and Labour-led councils (newsflash for you Craig: most parents don’t want their kids back in school now – they don’t believe it’s safe either) than examining his own party’s hapless handling of this pandemic.

    For all his faults at least Roger Gale has had the decency to come out and condemn Cummings’ lockdown breach, while Craig Mackinlay would rather vacillate and hedge his bets than risk falling foul of party leadership. This is about far more than “bad optics”: Cummings’ actions and the PM’s defence of them will see more and more people flocking to Thanet’s beaches over the coming weeks; the clear lockdown messaging has been totally muddied and people now think they have the green light to “do what they think is sensible”. More of your constituents are going to contract the disease and die because of this. Maybe try and think about what’s best for them?

  11. Given the number of photos on Mr Mackinley’s website where he’s cuddling up to the Supreme Leader, I think I know what his views are in the Cummings affair and it certainly isn’t the same as the majority of his constituents. He will undoubtedly be defending the indefensible and he knows it!! I’m no Tory, but I would say that at least Roger Gale has a modicum of decency and backbone in calling for Cummings to go.

  12. Never thought I’d ever say well done Mr. Gale, for showing some decency in regards to the Cummings saga. Unfortunately for us we’ve got that UKIP reject Mackinlay allegedly representing us. Just seen Michael Gove trying like a stupid schoolboy to defend Cummings. We’re stuffed folks, Boris covidiots are here again totalling ignoring safe distancing, almost as if that’s what he wants. The man’s a buffoon in charge of a load of posh boys and nodding dogs, he’s taking is all for mugs!!

  13. Most people adhered to Government instructions on isolation during lock down Extract From Mr Mckinlays last news letter, There are fools out there who will disregard common sense.
    I think that fits Dominic Cummings to a tee.
    One rule for us and one rule for them

    Come on Craig have some decency like Roger Gale

  14. Come on Mackinlay, join your mate Gale, who I never thought I would have a good word for, and condemn Cummings outright, although its against your natural Tory instincts, to further increase you chances of political advancement! Cummings is Johnson’s ‘familiar’ who he credits with winning the election for him, he didn’t, only 37% of the voting population did that, because they wanted to get rid of foreigners Duurh! If Cummings had an ounce of integrity he would fall on his sword, testing his eyes by driving 60 miles for a day out, yeah right!

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