By Oliver James Pike
The unflattering departure of Dominic Cummings has revealed much about the Johnson administration in that the direction of policy was largely controlled by advisors and key allies rather than the PM himself. This makes the departure of Cummings a potentially premiership shattering incident as his replacement is likely to see the Conservative party slipping back into old habits.
The media and those on the left despised Cummings for being the architect of Brexit and then for delivering Boris an 80 seat majority in 2019. Their visceral hatred for an unassuming bald policy analyst became clear after he bent the guidelines, he himself had helped create during the first covid lockdown. His house became the site of a circus as the media (not socially distancing) heckled and jeered as he went for his weekly shop. This treatment was drawn out and aggressive in nature while many other politicians and figures who had broken lockdown in some shape or form endured nothing more than a brief spell in the news. This vulture esque character assassination was attempted because the left hated his effectiveness and saw him as a malignant Machiavellian operator.
Equally those on the right were blown away by the man for this very reason. They thought he was a strategic genius, a man with godlike intellect and Tony Montana Nerve. The HBO Brexit: uncivil war certainly portrays him as some mad scientist capable of maneuvering any situation. The recent return of political satire show Spitting Image even depicts him as an alien form epsilon 5 who can read minds and telepathically communicate. This reflects on a confusion amongst people across the political spectrum when it comes to understanding Cummings. The political establishment is so stuck in their ways, incapable of change and needlessly incompetent that when someone with their head screwed on with a vision of a different kind of politics comes along, they look on in astonishment thinking the ability to do anything without a committee is some form of black magic. What all this hate, reverence and confusion arises because Cummings has hacked politics. He has found a way to get things done in a way that few political operators in Britain have ever been able to do. However, he is not an alien from Epsilon 5 he is someone who gets it.
Cummings has always despised the political establishment. He has also hated the process of politics. It is hard to disagree with his sentiment. Issues from mental health to infrastructure projects are continually passed on to successive governments as endless committees and focus groups toy with ideas and budgets. The civil service which he assailed during his time in No 10 are seldom apolitical and mostly incompetent. Cummings also leveraged the forgotten people to lead the vote leave campaign to victory in 2016. Issues like immigration are top priorities for swathes of the country yet the political establishment has continually sidelined the issue and ignored the concerns of the public. We then saw a zombie parliament hold up Brexit for years only to be swept aside by a Cummings led 2019 election campaign.
Without Cummings distain for the political establishment the Brexit campaign and subsequent Boris campaign would have played it safe miscalculated the mood of the public and failed. Without his parliamentary maneuvering and disregard of the crocodile tears of holier than thou remainers Brexit would still be up for debate. Cummings gets that politics is rotten to the core and adapted his approach accordingly and to great effect.
If Boris doesn’t fill the void with someone who shares Cummings distain for the political process then there is a risk that the government will slip back into a complacent, bureaucracy led state and be unable to do anything daring or bold.
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