Voters in the former coalfield constituency of Leigh in Greater Manchester elected a Conservative MP in December for the first time in its 134-year history. Before the coronavirus hit, the Guardian assembled a panel of local voters to talk about why the Tories won Leigh and what it would take for Labour to win it back. Here, four first-time Conservative voters react to the Dominic Cummings controversy.

What Dominic Cummings did doesn’t sit comfortably with me at all. Especially with me being a past healthcare worker. He just showed complete disregard for the rules. The most ridiculous thing that sticks in my mind is how he did a 60-mile round trip to Barnard Castle with his wife and child in the car to test his eyesight. I wonder what the DVLA will think about that? I don’t like that and I think Boris [Johnson] is a complete idiot for sticking by him.

I’ve got a grandchild we’ve not seen since lockdown and he was only born on 1 January. I’d love to be there and get hold of him, but we follow the rules, we do the right thing, we stay away. They said you shouldn’t go to your second home, well me and my wife Jacqueline, a diabetes nurse, we were actually at our second home, a caravan up in Yorkshire, on the Sunday, the day before the lockdown, and they came around on the Sunday and asked people to leave. We’ve not been able to go back and check on the caravan because it wouldn’t be right to. Yet here’s a guy who works for the government who can do whatever the hell he wants.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve never had much regard for him. His manner, his attitude, his dress. You wouldn’t expect somebody to turn up at No 10 in bloody tracksuit bottoms and a T-shirt. What does that portray to the rest of the world?

Our next-door neighbour but one died of Covid. He was cremated last week. He was the same age as me, 67. We used to share a desk at school. We were very close and yet we couldn’t go to the crematorium – then you see someone like Dominic Cummings doing that kind of thing.

I still think Boris is the right person at the moment and I don’t like people trying to make political mileage about the crisis because we should all stick together. But Cummings should have fallen on his sword.

I think it is very silly that Dominic Cummings put other people at risk, as well as his own family. Especially given his position in government. It’s a bit ridiculous. And yet it’s what I expect now. People aren’t sticking to the rules, are they heck. You should see what it’s like around here, people meeting in the streets, playing football. They have no idea what it’s like not being able to breathe. I do. I have emphysema and had throat cancer five or six years ago and had to have a tracheostomy so I know how scary it is, how frightening and painful to have your lungs fill up.

I haven’t left the house for 10 weeks, not once, since well before Boris Johnson announced lockdown. I’ve not seen my grandchildren, nobody. I think Cummings should be made to pay. He shouldn’t be able to get away with it. Mind you, nobody should.

I’m more annoyed with the BBC and newspaper reporters than I am with Dominic Cummings. I don’t like people in close proximity at the best of times – we have screens up at the restaurant so that people can’t get too close when they come in for takeaways. But the media have hounded him. The BBC in particular should be setting an example. I’ve had to stop watching it. I watch RT now (Russia Today), and get news from all around the world instead.

He should’t have done it, should he? He’s gone to Durham and he shouldn’t have. I think his cocksure attitude and white shirt yesterday might have lost him a whole load of people. He’s not sympathetic, is he? He doesn’t do himself any favours. I do think Boris has lost some credibility. Cogs are turning in one direction and the masterplan has to continue in that direction. If Cummings is a key figure in that, then he’s got to stay, but longterm he’s got to go. You wouldn’t want to get someone off your main board because they made a mistake if they are a key decision maker.

I am not really bothered about what Dominic Cummings did. Maybe I had my Tory blinkers on, but the thing that wound me up was seeing all the reporters outside his house really close together. Pot, kettle, black springs to mind. I had his press conference on but I wasn’t really listening to it because I was playing on my PlayStation, but I don’t get people who say it’s one rule for him and another for everyone else: people can go and see loved ones, they just have to stay apart. Did he come into contact with anyone when he went to Durham? I think it’s ridiculous calling for him to resign, wishing for someone to lose their job for what is basically a mistake, isn’t it?

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