Even though the Government says the continuing threat to public health is the number one priority for Ministers and officials, the suspicion is that another factor is behind the decision to delay the start until next year.
By playing for time like this lessens the likelihood of the inquiry being completed, and its findings published, before the next general election.
Yet this does a total disservice to families left bereaved by the pandemic, or people suffering from so-called ‘long Covid’, as Bob Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, expressed so eloquently on Sky News.
Not only would an inquiry be more focused than the “tit-for-tat testimonials” which are likely to follow the bombshell claims made by Boris Johnson’s former aide Dominic Cummings, but it would pave the way for more effective decision-making – and accountability – in the future.
For, while Lord Kerslake, a former chief executive of Sheffield City Council, is far more respectful of civil servants that Mr Cummings, he accepts mistakes have been made. He also rues a “paucity of learning” before the second lockdown as well as a need for a “revolution” in the way in which the country is run to counter the prevailing “complacency and arrogance”.
The fact such strong words come from an individual who knows how governments operate – or do not in this instance – makes the case for an early inquiry even more compelling than it was before Mr Cummings spoke out last week.