DOMINIC Cummings did not disappoint.

On Hancock: “he should have been fired for at least 15-20 things including lying”.

On Barnard Castle: “the whole thing was a complete disaster”.

On Covid planning in March 2020: “I agree we were absolutely f****d”.

On Boris Johnson as Prime Minister: “I regard him as unfit for the job”.

On Britain’s death toll: “Tens of thousands of people died, who didn’t need to die”.

Cummings’ appearance before the Commons’ health and science joint committee produced sensational headlines aplenty, more than a dozen personal apologies in the first hour alone, and a relentless barrage of criticism directed at Hancock – the PM’s infamous former adviser would not even dignify the Health Secretary with a Christian name. We’ll doubtless get the other side of things from Matthew John David Hancock when he appears before the committee in a fortnight’s time – so mark the calendar.

The National:

READ MORE: Six of the weirdest moments from Dominic Cummings’ evidence session

Although his reputation has been roundly trashed by Cummings, the Health Secretary is unlikely to face the sack now, since the Prime Minister has hesitated several times already. Some speculate that Hancock is being kept as the fall guy for the public inquiry (though that could take many years to complete).

More likely Johnson knows that sacking Hancock would only confirm his earlier indecision, suggest the Cabinet is not “Keeping Calm and Carrying On” and lend credibility to the other astonishing claims of his “disgruntled former employee”.

At Prime Ministers’ Questions yesterday, Boris held the line, changed the subject and talked excitedly about the vaccine miracle rolled out after Dom’s departure. Meanwhile on TV and radio, countless loyal NHS placeholders did exactly the same.

So, has Teflon Johnson seen this storm off as well?

It will take some time for Cummings’ revelations to subside thanks to his vivid portrait of a Number 10 operation that’s so haphazard and chaotic it makes The Thick Of It look positively manicured. And his bizarre parallels with Jaws, Spiderman and Jeff Goldblum, star of the blockbuster film Independence Day, certainly stay in the mind.

The National:

In fact, the motifs of the apocalypse and the superhero sum up Cumming’s account of what went so terribly wrong in Number 10 as Covid struck.

The situation facing Britain in March 2020 was indeed apocalyptic. The unprecedented danger and enormity of the virus rapidly exposed Britain’s shrivelled state and underfunded public services, revealing an intimidated civil service, a community of nervous advisers trying to second guess science-averse politicians, a Prime Minister unwilling to infringe voters’ inalienable right to go down the pub (before heading off on a fortnight’s luxury holiday) and an NHS that’s been underfunded, fragmented and privatised south of the border.

So there certainly was a feeling of imminent apocalypse. But there was no superhero – nor could there have been. Dominic Cummings told MPs that even Bill Gates wouldn’t have been able to turn the ship around, so clueless and plan-free was Whitehall. Yet in his evidence he frets about being “too frightened of the consequences” to push for a “South Korea style” total lockdown in March even though he knew Britain’s scientific advice was totally wrong. “What if I was wrong and there was a disaster?”

Clearly, he still thinks he could and should have been the man to single-handedly turn it all around.

But what kind of government would leave it up to one man to decide on a strategy as important and controversial as this?

This is Cummings’ biggest mistake. Cummings’ failure is the classic failure of all actors in conservative societies – the belief that a bad situation can be transformed by “the right” person or superhero.

That is so rarely true.

Westminster wasn’t missing the right person in early 2020, it was missing the right governance systems, the right approach to facts, science and decision-making – essentially the right democracy.

And all of this was missing over a period of decades not just a few highly pressurised weeks.

For example, why did politicians believe British citizens wouldn’t accept masks and lockdown restrictions in March 2020?

Because of the deeply embedded and dangerous belief that Britain has always been above all that. Above weakness, above restriction and above comparison with any other country in the world because we are, after all, so darned special. Other nations might force their populations onto the defensive, but not Rule Britannia. Resplendent from victory over Europe and fresh from “taking back control”, Boris wasn’t going to hand control over to a virus. I know that sounds ridiculous to any adult. But this unspoken philosophy so clearly guides many of Number 10’s desperately bad decisions.

Why no Covid plan? Because Del Boy Tories like Boris Johnson evidently believe plans are boring, safety nets are for weaklings and catastrophes can easily be survived by a combination of Old Etonian charm, denial, brass-neck, contacts and cash.

THERE was no Brexit plan – as Dominic Cummings doubtless recalls – just as there is no levelling up plan or social care plan today.

Tories don’t do plans – and that worked just fine until March 2020. Then it was too late to suddenly change tack.

Why was an outsourced business model chosen for procuring PPE?

Because handing a public emergency to the profit-making private sector is a learned response within Whitehall after three decades of privatisation. Did they seriously consider anything else – could they?

Why so few test and trace centres in Britain, not 155 like South Korea? Because big contracts handed to a few chums are easier to manage in a centralised society and spontaneous offers by countless small firms are impossible to harness unless you involve local government. And that means losing control so Tories don’t.

Why was there no attempt to harvest phone data a la Korea? Partly because of EU regulations and GDPR but mostly because of the chronic lack of trust between citizens and the Government about everything from Brexit to Windrush.

READ MORE: Dominic Cummings says what we already knew - populists shouldn’t lead in a crisis

In short, Whitehall’s rigidity, denial, and thoroughly inadequate Covid response was baked in long before the first Covid cases were reported in Wuhan. The governance meltdown Cummings has exposed at Westminster is the product of decades.

Even though the twin myths of the lone superhero and the strong leader dominate our age, success is rarely achieved overnight by any individual. Instead, it is usually the product of trust and mutual respect, openness, genuine diversity, and social investment in health, welfare safety nets, planning and equality over long, long years.

To avert the tragedy and the needless deaths of 2020, different people with different outlooks were needed decades back to stop Westminster taking away from the proper funding of public services and towards the kind of society Boris Johnson presides over today.

Dominic Cummings has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt, that British governance lies in ruins. We should be thankful he’s drawn that veil aside and must resolve to keep Scottish democracy heading on an entirely different path.