It appears Dominic Cummings never made much of a impact at the private school he attended at Durham, one of his classmates described him as a bit on the periphery of things, in fact the only thing she could recall about him is the incident mentioned in the title of this piece.
So how did the same person come to be the most famous nee infamous person in the UK at the moment?
The fact is Dominic Cummings is a bit of an enigma but perhaps not for the reasons he thinks. There seems to be an internal battle between the man who wants to be controlling things in the shadows to the man who wants to be revered by his peers. The advice to special advisors is to remain out of sight and out of mind as much as possible but here is a man who alters his own blogs to appear prophetic almost in predicting the corona virus or who personally asked to meet Benedict Cumberbatch to instruct him on how he wanted the actor to represent him in a Chanel four Brexit drama.
There is a lot of things that don’t add up with Dominic, he wants to be seen as anti establishment anti elite yet everything about him screams elite, from his Oxbridge education to his friendships with the likes of Mr Gove and Mr Johnson the sort of elite Eton set he exposes to detest.
He hates Journalists yet is married to one. He hates the limelight yet there has never been a special advisor more famous (and that list includes Alistair Campbell).
His blogs offer further insight into the man, undoubtedly very well educated and very knowledgably yet the blogs are often rambling and hard to follow, the arguments he is making the same.indeed some of his blogs often veer off into some quite contentious areas including Eugenics.
Again people say he is a winner and of course that is true as both the brexit campaign where he headed up vote leave and subsequently Boris Johnson’s campaign for leadership have shown. This winning streak has carried on with an emphatic win for Mr Johnson’s conservative party at the General election. Mr Cummings knows how to win.
However he has had significant losses as well, like the time when he tried to set up a airline in Russia. He only managed to make one flight and that flight only had one passenger, unfortunately they forgot to pick up the passenger. Let’s just say a career as the next Branson or even Stellios didn’t materialise.
Perhaps more telling is the time spent as SPAD to Michael Gove; the brief was simple to overall a education system dragged down by old thinking from archaic civil servants and obstructive teaching unions. It was another ill fated adventure with Cummings eventually quitting due to his plan to scrap GCSE’s being dumped and Gove demoted my his friend Mr Cameron. It is said his time in the Education department led to many teachers feeling disfranchised and alientated by the plans he brought forward. In fact I can remember personally the joyous reception Mr Gove’s removal from that post brought amounts my teacher friends.
And perhaps herein lies the problem. While Mr Cummings is exceptionally talented when it comes to guerrilla campaigns aimed at throwing a bomb into the middle of the establishment he is less suited for day to day government where building trust and finding common ground are vital. His mantra as laid out in hos personal 2013 on his blog page (you can still find it there) is that “we do our best works from the gutter” he has studied everything from Thucydides to Von Bismarck (two of his Heroes) to start up philosophy in Silicon Valley. He places great trust in AI utilising companies like Cambridge Analytica and it’s parent company SCL.
While I never want to see the hounding of any individual and that applies to Mr Cummings you do feel that he has been somewhat caught in his own maelstrom. Here is a man who shows very little respect to anyone he comes across be it press or politicians. While I understand it is sometimes good not to suffer fools gladly this seems to stretch a long way in Mr Cummings world.
And then we have that riddle we have been left with at the start, for someone is he someone who wants to be the Svengali in the background controlling the strings of his ministerial puppets or a Machiavellian prince strutting his stuff on the world stage. The problem is I don’t think Mr Cummings knows the answer to this himself.
What appears to be the case is that he has made himself in disposable to the current government. So in disposable it has gone to great lengths possibly at great cost to keep him in post.
His aim at all costs seems to be to deliver a brexit that empowers the red wall of new conservative MP’s in the North of England, this was already going to be an herculean task prior to the Covid outbreak, now it seems nigh on impossible. But Mr Cummings has pulled off maybe not the impossible but definitely the improbable before so only time will tell.
One thing the recent kerfuffle has done is to take a lot of goodwill from him, both within Westminster and beyond, if he stalls on Brexit then it will be significantly harder for him. Only time will tell if the Gamble Mr Johnson has taken on him will be successful or not.
So what have we learned, not a lot I guess , mr Cummings still remains a bit of an enigma but perhaps the greatest mystery is why Mr Johnson has wagered so much on him. So my advice is to be careful near bins in Alton Towers, there are squirrels in them.