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What Cummings doesn’t understand The former adviser's mission to destroy the PM reveals the weakness of his worldview


May 24, 2021   6 mins

Has a nakedly vindictive act of political sabotage ever been greeted with less condemnation than Dominic Cummings’s attack on Boris Johnson? With the Westminster mob licking their lips in anticipation of his Commons appearance on Wednesday, the man who loves to pour scorn on the distracted obsessions of political pundits is once again their singular focus.

He has drummed up media interest in his performance with meticulous care, timing his Twitter tirades precisely to hit the front pages of the Sunday papers and regularly slipping out teasing details to keep the story moving. With a hammy note of faux reluctance, like an ageing star deigning to do one last show, the onetime scourge of the political class is offering them a grand finale. Prepare the cameras and the lights — the Norma Desmond of SW1 is ready for her close-up.

I wonder if, somewhere in that big brain of his, he realises how useful he has become to his former enemies — or whether the red mist of bruised ego and defensiveness has blinded him entirely to that? When Guardian journalist Carole Cadwalladr, who made a career out of the fantasy conviction that the Brexit campaign was won through a vast conspiracy of foul play with Dom Cummings at the head of it, announces that “if Cummings successfully blows apart the political media industrial complex I am so very here for it”, it might be time to think again about the Covid narrative she and Dom now find themselves stitching together.

Theirs is a neat story that the pundit class has been determined to make fit since the start of Covid: Boris Johnson is a lockdown-shy Libertarian secretly pursuing a heartless “herd immunity” strategy in a cynical choice to sacrifice lives in favour of the economy. The trouble is, their thesis is transparently divorced from reality. Zoom out and the astonishing political fact of the Covid era, the thing that analysts will ponder for decades, is how a nominally libertarian Tory Prime Minister so easily confined his citizens to their homes for so long. Even today, when we have some of the lowest Covid rates in the world and more than 70% of adults have been vaccinated, it is still illegal for a family of four to have three friends over for tea.

The case we will hear on Wednesday, focusing on specific weeks in March and September 2020 when Boris Johnson supposedly dragged his feet before putting the UK into lockdowns, is a perfect example of the Westminster point-scoring Cummings has spent his career railing against. It will be cheered on by Left-wing media and politicians, as well as ambitious centrist technocrats such as Jeremy Hunt (who will be lobbing him softball questions at the hearing) and Cummings’s own phalanx of Right-wing fans on Twitter. All these groups, and even some people within government, are content for the political focus to remain on these days of apparent dithering and whether they caused delay and cost lives.

But I fear that, from the centre of the story, Mr Cummings has lost sight of the priorities of ordinary voters – which surely now consist of wanting to know when this will all be over and when lockdown will finally end. They don’t want to rake over the difference ten days might have made last March, (and besides, they have the correct intuition that people were locking down anyway during those days so their effect is exaggerated.) Equally, Cummings’s big accusation that the initial pandemic response plan, based on flu, included the goal of herd immunity is long-established, as is the fact that the Government initially considered it, then deviated from it rapidly when its implications became clear.

The same goes for the argument about last September: Cummings will tell us that he supported the SAGE calls for a “circuit-breaker lockdown” as cases began rising, and was disastrously overruled. But we now have evidence from Wales of a real-life circuit-breaker lockdown and how it failed spectacularly to change the trend. Most likely, had Cummings won that argument, England would (like Wales) have had a two-week slowdown and then the trend would have resumed. In any case, the UK rapidly started being locked down again after that point — initially via the local tiers system and eventually a full national lockdown, and then the Kent variant gave the epidemic a new lease of life after Christmas. This is all now established fact. So why does he think it is so explosive?

I wouldn’t be surprised if he brings up that Downing Street briefing with Sunetra Gupta, Carl Heneghan and Anders Tegnell again to add a little fuel to the conspiratorial imagination of Carole Cadwalladr and his other newfound allies against the Government. But Gupta’s advice to pursue the alternative approach of “focused protection” was comprehensively rejected by the PM, and the rapid descent back into national lockdowns is now a matter of history. It is hard to think of a group of scientists with less impact on UK government policy than these three.

In truth (and I say this as an admirer of Cummings) this last round of the Dom show has been sad to watch. The Downing Street wallpapergate allegation in his April blogpost was off-topic and failed to cut through — as the Tories’ historically successful elections in the Red Wall proved shortly after, achieved without any help from their talismanic former campaign manager. Teesside Mayor Ben Houchen told UnHerd, having won 73% of the vote: his voters “ridiculed the media for concentrating on [wallpapergate]… they just think it’s very London centric”. Certain details in the same blog, like referring to Carrie Symonds as Boris Johnson’s “girlfriend” instead of his fiancĂ©e, leapt out like flashes of menace, confirming that things had got pretty personal; and grand declarations that “I will not engage in media briefing regarding these issues” only looked absurd when followed up by 32-part Twitter threads.

As for his subsequent allegation, similarly designed to wound, that the PM at one point said “let the bodies pile high” in the privacy of his Downing Street office, a new poll suggests that most voters don’t think it is meaningful even if true and would just be an understandable expression of frustration. If the smooth operation of government is really his goal, what sort of effect does he think it has if a Prime Minister can’t even have a conversation with his closest aide without fear of public retribution in a few months’ time? As Mr Cummings takes such an interest in polling, he might want to consider YouGov’s other finding that only 14% of voters trust him to tell the truth anyway (the figure for Boris Johnson is 38%).

Dom Cummings prides himself on membership of the “rationalist” group of online thinkers. But the humility and careful presentation of evidence that is their hallmark is nowhere to be seen in his latest screeds. On Twitter, he resorts to repeating tropes about Sweden that a more rational look at the evidence quickly rebuts; and he is blind to his own involvement, saying that mass testing should have been developed much quicker last year — glossing over the fact that he was one of the key people in charge of delivering precisely those programmes.

If anything, his jihad against the Government he was formerly a key part of reveals the crucial shortcoming in the wider political philosophy that we might call Cummingsism. His diagnosis of a sclerotic civil service and inefficient political class was spot on; but trying to excise the persuasive element from government, centralising power in order to bully through the bureaucracy and trying to run the country like a science project, isn’t such a great alternative. His fascination with characters such as General Groves (of the Manhattan Project) and hyperproductive small teams within DARPA, the Apollo mission and Big Tech don’t simply map onto running a country .

Consider the evidence of his own time in No 10. He correctly identified most political Special Advisors as being uppity neophites who have watched too much West Wing and get excited about all the wrong things, so he put himself in direct charge of all of them; but instead of winning them over, he summoned them to humiliating weekly meetings and they soon hated him right back. He was paranoid about leaks to the media, but assiduously briefed the media himself and inserted himself into the story. His famous invitation to “weirdos and misfits” to join him in Government, done outside the official system via a Gmail account, was a good idea but executed in the same Cummings-contra-mundum spirit. It unravelled shortly after — where are those expert recruits now?

The common deficiency here, and in Cummingsism more generally, is a missing note of humanity. You can dream of an ever-more muscular system of government, smashing through due process and gripping the country tightly like the East Asian nations he so admires; it’s a fashionable goal. But what would it actually be like to live under? In truth, wouldn’t it simply entail a replacement of clubby, ineffectual Whitehall politics with a more draconian politics of fear and rule from the centre, of which lockdowns are only the start?

In which case, brief though it was, wasn’t Boris Johnson’s hesitation before upturning the lives of his citizens eminently defensible? If his 18-point lead is anything to go by, people seem to think so: perhaps they would simply rather live in a country governed by a maddening but identifiably human leader than the likes of Dom Cummings with their visions of military efficiency.

The final irony, of course, is that this supposed high-priest of lockdowns, this Cassandra who all along called for harsher restrictions and more draconian action, couldn’t even manage to obey the lockdown rules himself. Thus (and this is surely the biggest source of his rageful energy) the fatal flaw in Cummingsism lies forever exposed by the actions of the man himself. Barnard Castle and the whole shaggy dog story for which he will always be best known perfectly encapsulate how human life doesn’t fit neatly into unrealistic schemes dreamed up in Westminster.


Freddie Sayers is the Editor-in-Chief & CEO of UnHerd. He was previously Editor-in-Chief of YouGov, and founder of PoliticsHome.

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J Bryant
J Bryant
3 years ago

Cummings appears to perfectly illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of ‘weirdos and misfits.’
As outsiders, they can analyze an organization, identify its weaknesses and, in some cases, propose potentially innovative and effective solutions. Leave them unsupervised for long enough, though, and you’ll quickly understand why they’re ‘weirdos and misfits.’
It’s easy to over-think Cummings’ current behavior. The stench of sour grapes gives the game away.

Matt Coffey
Matt Coffey
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Nothing like a sweeping generalisation to make a point. You ever considered a career in politics?

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I’m not so sure, I never thought that the government of this country (a.k.a. The Civil Service) would allow an alternative centre of power. My belief is, that Boris is now their prisoner, as usual with P.M.s.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

LOL
BoJo is the PM, if he can not rule over CS he should resign.

Kathryn Richards
Kathryn Richards
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Now that really IS funny.

David Brown
David Brown
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

No PM would last more than a month in your world.

opopkova
opopkova
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

CS as in “Civil Service” or “Carrie Symonds”? 🙂

crawfordwright
crawfordwright
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

If you had ever been in the senior civil service you will know they sit twitchily waiting for orders from no10 , not the pm but some unelected Spad. Might have been different once but not now.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

At least Cummings got things done. He above anyone else won the referendum for LEAVE in 2016 and he also engineered the landslide victory GE in 2019. He was determined to make the civil service actually execute government policy rather than being the serial failure that it is. When government ministers demand for example a cut to inward migration, this MUST happen. It doesn’t and it should do. Cummings, had he survived in post would have made Boris great. Now, he is being run by Carrie who controls him from the bedroom.

Last edited 3 years ago by Tom Fox
Brian Hunt
Brian Hunt
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

And those are the achievements that he should be remembered for. His strategies were brilliant.
He could now be making a lot of money from public speaking, but is destroying his crediblity with each outburst.

Chris Hopwood
Chris Hopwood
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

………..but immigration rights have been given to three million Hong Citizens and India will demand immigration rights as part of a trade deal (and India is a country the UK very much needs to do a trade deal with)

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

If Cummings had survived in post he would just have continued to add to the mountain if evidence that being a great campaigner doesn’t make you a great chief of staff.
Analysing problems and implementing solutions are different skill sets.

SUSAN GRAHAM
SUSAN GRAHAM
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

If Cummings was female the mantra would be ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’….all this hindsight and post-mortems are very boring, pandemics – like parenting do not come with an instruction manual and decisions made – even in private lives – with the best of intentions can always be analysed at a later date with an ‘if only’ hat on and perhaps regret. One can only deal with the hand one has at the time.

James Slade
James Slade
3 years ago

Cummings isn’t as important as he and the leftwingers think. It’s suits both of them to portray Cummings as the Svengali of Brexit. The truth is that he was pushing at an open door that the London centric media hadn’t bothered with for decades. The middle class metropolitans have spent the last 20 years talking to themselves and developed a severe case of magical thinking. Brexit and the collapse of the Red Wall are symptoms of the drift between what progressives think and what the rest of the country think. If May had listened to Lynton Crosby instead of Nick Timothy, she would have the majority and Cummings would have been a peripheral figure.

Last edited 3 years ago by James Slade
J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  James Slade

May was the fallguy for the inevitable fiasco of the Brexit negotiations.

James Slade
James Slade
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

Nothing inevitable about it. The Blairites demanded and got the full backing for a second referendum in return for supporting Corbyn. They bet on winning a second referendum and EU rules preventing Corbyn from doing much. They bet wrong

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  James Slade

48% of the voters backed Remain. Are you really telling me that over 16M people are middle class metropolitans (bad – based on your comment), while the TRUE people live in Blackpool, Clacton, Stoke and Turnbridge Wells?

Last edited 3 years ago by Jeremy Smith
Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Tunbridge Wells voted remain. Time to update your stereotypes.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

Fine, 45% voted Leave. Are they the true people ?

William Harvey
William Harvey
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I dont know if you noticed but Britain left the EU a while ago…and probably won’t be going back… ever

Last edited 3 years ago by William Harvey
Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  William Harvey

I did notice that you didn’t address my point at all.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

So you quote the figure of actual voters to support your case for Remain, but the percentage of all potential voters to diss the opposition? You know dam n well the actual Leave vote was 52%. Remind me to mark your entry with *Do not take at all seriously (there are stronger ways of putting it) till there are grounds to do so’.
In the usual way those who did not vote were saying ‘I’m happy either way’ so can be added without prejudice to the Leave vote.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

Old white man shouldn’t use the world “diss”, that said, I simply pointed out that over 16M people voted Remain. How are they not the normal/true people? Are they all part of the elite?
The ones that didn’t vote can be added to Leave vote…why?
P.S. If you read my comment(s) again I did not “diss” anyone!

Last edited 3 years ago by Jeremy Smith
Simon Baseley
Simon Baseley
3 years ago
Reply to  James Slade

Cummings will learn that Boris is bombproof. The man is a sort of modern Maundy Gregory to the Prime Minister’s David Lloyd George. He’s probably got loads more dirt and certainly enough to keep Guardian hacks moist, but as the polls show, people like Boris and they certainly don’t like Cummings. He looks like what he is, an ex-employee with a grudge

Jon Read
Jon Read
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Baseley

He certainly does. Never a good look.

Matt M
Matt M
3 years ago

My sense is the public has moved on. Happily vaccinated and getting back to normal, the last thing people want to read is a post-mortem on the events of March 2020. His perpetually disappointed enemies will find that people are more receptive to Boris’ optimistic view of the future than raking over the coals of the COVID response.

Matt Coffey
Matt Coffey
3 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

The last thing people want is a postmortem that proves they were wrong. I suspect that’s why they’re keen to get back to normal and pretend it never happened.

Matt M
Matt M
3 years ago
Reply to  Matt Coffey

The general public didn’t take a position. How can they be proved wrong? I’m sure the politicians and the like will be riveted to the proceedings but normal people will focus on more interesting things.

Matt Coffey
Matt Coffey
3 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

Everyone takes a position and a very vocal middle class majority were only too willing to unquestioningly support government propaganda that they believed was benefiting them and theirs.

Last edited 3 years ago by Matt Coffey
Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

Not in my experience. Those who followed lockdown rules religiously are livid that their self-imposed captivity was completely unnecessary. Weirdly, their ire is not directed at the government, but at those who never followed the rules in the first place. It’s the same with the vaccines. Many who have taken them insist that others must take them too.

Jayne Lago
Jayne Lago
3 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

I believe you are completely right. I would also add that a few members here still do not understand the attraction of Boris Johnson. That is because they do not understand the minds of the working class who I would add are more patriotic than they are given credit for. The Labour Party and others are keeping Boris where he is……..the more you attack him and try to ridicule him (which Labour/socialists do without exception) the more Boris is supported across the country.

chris carr
chris carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

You may well be right.
But once we can look back, there are important questions that need to be considered about the efficacy and cost of lockdowns, how to help those worst affected without triggering hyperinflation, how to assess “the science”.

Jonathan Ellman
Jonathan Ellman
3 years ago

Eleven priorities for scrutiny in the Covid-19 era.
1.    Why the lab leak theory was denounced.
2.    The lab leak theory.
3.    Why the CCP was allowed to dominate WHO
4.    The effect of the CCP’s dominance of WHO on the efficacy of WHO’s response.
5.    Why delegations of politicians and scientists did not arrive in China, S. Korea and Taiwan in the early weeks of 2020 to discuss strategies of mitigation.
6.    The failure to close borders to China in early 2020
7.    Why developing nations with low median age populations were pressured to lockdown
8.    The failure to provide online and on television curricula for all school children during lockdown
9.    The failure to inform and warn the public in the early weeks of 2020
10. The failure to hold a national debate about the feasibility of a shielding strategy.
11 The care homes tragedy.
Cummingsism will obfuscate the real failings.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jonathan Ellman
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago

Doesn’t even scratch the surface of what needs investigation. I think it needs to be Lockdown, education lockdown, Money Printing, and MMT, and then why China lost 3 dead per million when the West lost 2000 per million – and even Japan about 80 and they are old, and much of the region 0.4! But the WHY LOCKDOWN is the one needed, because it was the real problem. Next the where did covid come from and who is to blame.

But what caught my eye in the article was:

‘the man who loves to pour scorn on the distracted obsessions’

my dyslexia ran off this this line, which I read as – scour porn – , and I thought ????

Susie E
Susie E
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I’d also add in looking very closely at all the members of SAGE & NERVTAG, who has been funding their work for years and the silencing of other equally qualified scientists who disagree with them. Who decided it would ever be a good idea to listen to Professor Lockdown? The dodgy PPE contracts going to mates of ministers and why the government paid millions to developers to make a digital passport app (The NHS app – now in use!) even though there is no legal basis for needing it (yet?)? Just follow the money…

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

You can’t compare deaths per million in very different populations in the simplistic way you have done. Just for brevity, I’ll stick to just one issue among many that can account for different mortality. The British as a population are enormously fat. The low mortality populations are not. Obesity is a key issue in how badly people are affected.

Anne Bradshaw
Anne Bradshaw
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Who said China lost 3 people per million? The Chinese? Why would you choose to believe this figure whilst doubting absolutely everything else they’ve said about the pandemic, including its true source?

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago

That’s all very well , but I don’t see the ‘powers that be’ allowing it to happen. Especially as, they know the answers by now any way, and those answers are completely ‘socially unacceptable’

Jonathan Ellman
Jonathan Ellman
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

The powers that be certainly won’t do it. Whether they can prevent it is the question.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago

A very big mistake was to let the media have essential worker status. This enabled them to roam around, catching other people of all ranks “breaking the rules”. It enabled them to barge in and out of hospitals and nursing homes when others couldn’t, filming the naked limbs of ill old people. It enabled them to panic the population and prevent the schools from staying open. It was the media who crashed the economy and then cleaned up. IF we were to go into curfew, the media should have too.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

Surely Dom will answer questions about point 11?
Labor MPs only have to ask him?

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago

You can add to this the deliberate trashing and misrepresentation of cheap off label drugs showing good efficacy by the WHO and big pharma to protect the vaccine billions. Bret Weinstein recently in one of his podcasts called it ungodly.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago

Spot on. Very well written. Pure rationality might give you pleasingly logical answers, but it’s nigh on impossible to implement those ideas one-to-one. Because you are dealing with people and their emotions. You can rail against the irrationality of emotion but it’s no use: most people aren’t robots. I too admire Cummings for his thinking (generally), but his refusal to compromise when pursuing his ideas in the real world exposes a childish streak in him, stamping his foot when he can’t get his way 100%. Must have been hell to work with him.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
3 years ago

He may be highly intelligent. He may even be highly intelligent in an original manner. But as a political entity, he is spectacularly useless. When he first came to public view, lots of people had a look at his blog; but very few had anything good to say about it. Geeky erudition in search of a coherent purpose.
I get the impression that Boris may initially have been impressed by Cummings’ success in the Brexit campaign, or perhaps always treated him as a glorified stats and IT specialist. There was a period of around six months when political commentators thought that Cummings might have some sort of brilliant but simple constitutional answer to the hung parliament and May’s deal. But he didn’t have one.
The end of the story came with Boris giving the poor bloke enough rope to hang himself three times over in that Downing Street garden press conference. What a pathetic performance. Unpolished, unprepared, terrified, and graceless, the brain the size of a planet revealed itself to have the emotional and social intelligence of an asteroid. Boris clearly knew that. Boris won. What comes now will be of no consequence.

Sue Julians
Sue Julians
3 years ago

Really enjoyed this piece.
An unholy alliance, indeed. Particularly now that we know that Cadwalladr handles the press for the self appointed and very much not independent SAGE. This nugget of information explains everything about the repeatedly gloomy stance iSAGE has taken on vaccine effect, and the ridiculously optimistic assumptions about the effect of NPIs. Independent science commentary and analysis, it is definitely not.

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago

Correct me if I am wrong; my clear recollection is that Boris picked this fight with Cummings, not the the other way around. I thought to myself, ‘ that’s fine Boris, as long as you are in the right, but if you’re not, he’s clearly a lot smarter than you are Boris, and Cummings must know where some, if not all the bodies are.’

James Slade
James Slade
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

I wonder how Boris managed to win 2 terms as mayor of London without Cummings.

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  James Slade

I wonder. Do you think that, Boris wanted Sadiq to win to provide him with a’bogey man’? and acted accordingly? Conversely, did Boris stand with the full support of the Tory party, unlike Shaun Bailey, who Boris largely ignored, if not actively undermined. I’ll be the first to admit Boris is politically astute. Maybe, his was a preemptive strike against Cummings. We’ll see, won’t we?

James Slade
James Slade
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

Blah blah blah, Boris won twice without Cummings .

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  James Slade

And twice with him?

James Slade
James Slade
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

The common denominator is Boris

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  James Slade

And the fact that he’s very good at picking the right guy at the right time to accomplish his objectives? Which is one hallmark of an effective leader.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

What a pity he lacks the hallmark of honesty!

Jayne Lago
Jayne Lago
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Do you seriouslybelieve other politicians of all persuasions are honest then?

Jim Jones
Jim Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  James Slade

Are you simple?

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

I thought the Conservatives always wrote off London as a Labour city.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  James Slade

Would Boris win now in London (with our without Dom)?

William Harvey
William Harvey
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

I dont think Boris picked the fight. I think his silly little “woke” fiance did it for him. He’s running under her remote control. 6 He only thinks via his c##k

Brian Hunt
Brian Hunt
3 years ago

The more Cummings throws as Boris, the stronger and more popular Boris will become. Many people are fed up with the demonisation of public figures, often shown by disgruntled remainers still fighting against Brexit, and prefer to form our own views.
Cummings doesn’t know how to fight. Coming in with his arms metaphorically flailing, he won’t deliver the killer punch that he wants. He will be unemployable and forgotten by the end of the year.

Steve Gwynne
Steve Gwynne
3 years ago

Your last point about Cummings is the one that will bring Cummings down.

All my working class mates found his actions unforgivable despite my pleas that he was simply trying to stay ahead of the game by moving to a place with child care safety nets in place.

This attack on Boris will not go down well and will simply confirm to the working class he is just another elitist tw*t thinking he is better than everyone else with one rule for him and another rule for everyone else.

His actions simply demonstrate that he is just another part of the metropolitan court coterie who think incredibly trivial matters are deserving of day to day national discussion and interest. They are not.

In other words, stop wasting our shared political time and energy Cummings with your intense selfishness. You are quite frankly a waste of space.

Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Gwynne

Your working class mates? I think it is absolutely super of you to have working class mates, particularly when it must be sooo trying for you.

Jayne Lago
Jayne Lago
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Gwynne

Your ‘working class mates sound Very different to the working class family/ friends I mix with.

dunnmalcolm966
dunnmalcolm966
3 years ago

Agree absolutely with this article. Like the author I feel rather sad for Cummings but his current behaviour is alienating him from people who would otherwise support him.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago

Cummings own flaws do not excuse the shocking betrayal of him by Boris, who knowingly had him falsely accused of leaking – more or less fingering him as the notorious ‘Chatty Rat’. It is perfectly clear that Cummings is not the so called ‘Chatty Rat’, and we know this from two sources. A Cabinet Office enquiry identified another suspect – a very good friend of Carrie, and Robert Peston who is well acquainted with the ‘Chatty Rat’ as a recipient of leaks directly from the garrulous rodent, says the rat was absolutely not the one time SPAD.
If Cummings now reveals some of his disagreements with Boris, the PM has no one to blame but himself. I do think though that Cummings’ adoption of the nuclear option may render him unemployable in future.

Robert Mitchell
Robert Mitchell
3 years ago

I was looking forward to cheering Cummings on, on Wednesday. But the trailers are for a self indulgent movie, and it looks as if the plot may have been lost.
Enjoyed Mr Sayers’s article

dean edge
dean edge
3 years ago

I so agree. Also its the law (or at least A law) that any group claiming a monopoly on rationality, or being “the voice of reason” is invariably bonkers.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

38% believe that BoJo tells the truth?
Who are these people?
BoJo’s own children think he is a selfish lying p…

Jim Jones
Jim Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

That is concerning essentially means 38% of the country are delusional.

Brynjar Johansson
Brynjar Johansson
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

It’s generally accepted within the social sciences that concepts such as ‘honesty’, & ‘altruism’ are highly contextual.

I served on operations with men I would trust with my life in combat. Like hell would I leave my wife with them for an hour, or my wallet for that matter.

I imagine people feel the same about Boris. He’s ‘trustworthy’ enough to deliver Brexit, but I doubt they’d want their daughters hanging round the bloke.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

Ask DUP about Brexit and concepts such as “honesty & altruism”.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jeremy Smith
Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I’m just relieved 62 percent think he is a liar.
Time will not be on Johnson’s side. Lies, confections, fantasies and false narratives will all come together to form a noose around his neck.

Jaden Johnson
Jaden Johnson
3 years ago

David Cameron’s characterisation of Cummings as a ‘career psychopath’ has never been more apt. How Boris Johnson must now rue expending so much political capital defending Cummings after his foray to Barnard Castle……

Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
3 years ago
Reply to  Jaden Johnson

He also called Johnson a ‘greased piglet’, which, as time has gone on, I have found to be a rather fitting and economic description.

Last edited 3 years ago by Kremlington Swan
Jaden Johnson
Jaden Johnson
3 years ago

Yes, that was good as well. Only less piglet, more pig.

andrew harman
andrew harman
3 years ago

Am I alone in just wishing that these two reprehensible human beings could just destroy each other?

Andrew Hall
Andrew Hall
3 years ago

A most excellent analysis by Freddie S. Cummings appears about to self-destruct in the most absurd way. Makes for a good media spectacle, tho’.
It leaves open the question, why on earth was C brought into Downing Street? So clearly a brilliant single issue nutter that if he flipped, transitioned and founded ‘Beyond the Valley of the Ultra Xtinctions’ I shouldn’t be at all surprised.

Iliya Kuryakin
Iliya Kuryakin
3 years ago

There’s much to dislike about Cummings but it’s clear there was a lack of urgency among ministers (taking advice from Whitty, Valance et al) last February and early March when closing the borders to China, Italy and Spain could have prevented much of the first Covid wave. These people also pooh poohed mask wearing, testing and were happy to put untested old people out of hospital and into care homes. You don’t have to like Cummings to see that the control freakery of the last 12 months has been largely driven by the slack attitude adopted when Covid first appeared.

Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
3 years ago
Reply to  Iliya Kuryakin

Wasn’t it Peru (one of those countries, anyway) that had an absolutely ferocious lock-down when it all kicked off. Slammed the door good and proper and practically nailed people to the floor to stop them moving around.
That was really, really great. The second they opened up a bit the virus ripped through the population.
The UK is basically an international hub. It takes one person to bring the virus, and within weeks it is everywhere. We have no idea how many arrived illegally in boats or the back of lorries.
Lockdowns were ignored to such an extent (and this I know for a fact) that not a single lockdown had any effect whatsoever.
Even if people had obeyed the restrictions religiously, there were millions of essential workers criss-crossing the country.

The only effect mask wearing had was to increase the spread of the virus, because wearing it caused people to pay even less attention to
other measures, and the masks allow the free spread of virus in aerosol suspension.
From start to finish, the whole exercise – saving the investment in vaccine research and development – has been an unmitigated fiasco.

Last edited 3 years ago by Kremlington Swan
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  Iliya Kuryakin

I exprect several factors came into play

  1. In March, Ferguson Reports predicts 500k deaths.
  2. Death rate from Bergamo very high. When death rate re-assessed, deaths only from Covid 19 it goes down 80%.
  3. Lack of PPE and realisation it cannot be stored as as has a life span.
  4. The initial belief in the need for ventilators and the lack of them.
  5. Vast numbers entering the UK including in small boats.

At 500K death, one is in a war. Britain had gone from peace to war in 3 months against an enemy we did not understand.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago

Cummings is definitely “on the spectrum”. He is an obsessive with no empathy for anyone other than himself and no self-awareness.
Boris expended a huge amount of political capital defending Cummings this time last year. Dom clearly doesn’t think he owes any loyalty in return.
The Government’s messaging was appallingly bad last year, so there is no way Dom’s chum Lee Cain deserved a promotion. If Carrie did indeed put the kibosh on it, she did the nation a favour. Cummings’s nasty leaks about her fully justified his sacking.
Cummings was the third most powerful person in No. 10 after the PM himself and the Cabinet Secretary. If the Downing Street operation was a hopeless mess, Dom himself must accept a lot of the blame. But he won’t, of course.

Last edited 3 years ago by Dougie Undersub
Stephen Lodziak
Stephen Lodziak
3 years ago

This is brilliant.

chrisjperry2012
chrisjperry2012
3 years ago

You argue that Cummings’ main point is that herd immunity was policy, which “everybody knows” was at least briefly the case.
If so, why are so many ministers completely rejecting that point?
We are surely witnessing the collision of a pair of self-obsessed weirdos.

Andrew Hall
Andrew Hall
3 years ago

Don’t put a volcanically angry ideologically driven egomaniacal miserabilist into the board room unless you enjoy unleashing chaos and recrimination.

Chris Clark
Chris Clark
3 years ago

Is it even possible to watch too much West Wing? I still wish I could somehow manage an Alice Through the Looking Glass move and live in that world instead of this one…

Michael McVeigh
Michael McVeigh
3 years ago

“the thing that analysts will ponder for decades, is how a nominally libertarian Tory Prime Minister so easily confined his citizens to their homes for so long”. I doubt it – analysts will ponder on why it wasn’t like that since the end of WW2. Mostly because Lockdowns will become the winter norm.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago

I’m disappointed to see another such intellectually lightweight piece from Mr Sayers. His obsession with lockdowns leaves him blind to the fact that, eg, Australia and New Zealand prevented COVID from achieving community spread primarily through border controls and have enjoyed a far more “normal” and free past 14 months than anywhere in the West, including Sweden. This fact, seemingly the direct result of government policy, deserves to be investigated fully. It has nothing to do with “lockdowns” per se. It is odd that Mr Sayers is intellectually incapable of holding his libertarian views and at the same time recognising the need to apply critical thinking to the policy responses to the worst public health crisis in a hundred years.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago
Reply to  Eva Rostova

Australia is only free until you want to leave with the intention of going back again.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago

That’s not the case. Several of my Aussie friends resident in US and UK have returned to Oz for a few weeks for vacation over the past year. The upside is they got to enjoy some normalcy while the West — Sweden included — was socially distanced and battling the winter second wave. The downside is flights are limited and therefore rather expensive, so not many could afford to do the trip.

Last edited 3 years ago by Eva Rostova
Human Being
Human Being
3 years ago
Reply to  Eva Rostova

Your mates must be extremely wealthy, because flight and quarantine costs currently run about ÂŁ7K (only those willing to pay for business airfares have much hope of getting to Australia at the moment). For those of us living overseas with dying relatives in Australia, and the tens of thousands trying to permanently return home, Australia is completely out of reach. I currently despair of seeing various family members again, especially given that border restrictions will be in place until at least the middle of next year. I understand that many Australians inside the country are okay with this, but speaking as an Australian living overseas and separated from family (who cannot currently leave Australia), there are serious downsides to the Antipodean approach.

Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
3 years ago

You may say that, and, as it turns out, I can definitely comment: if this isn’t a put up job engineered between the pair of them then my name is Mary DeMillington Rapier-Snyth (and it isn’t).
We are maybe maybe not possibly going to be allowed our freedom back and so the screen behind which the blond shyster has been hiding will probably go (unless he can find a variant we can be made to believe in), and people will start to ask some very pointed questions about why we were locked down for our own good for so long.
So in anticipation of that Cummings starts to portray Johnson as the reckless hyper-libertarian who really wanted all along to let it all rip.

See? But he was constrained by fearful, cautious people around him. Otherwise, by golly, by gosh, by gum, we wouldn’t have had any of this nonsense. So really, in all honesty (hangs head, wrings hands) all this profound social, psychological and economic damage is nothing to do with him. Now can we move on, please?

What’s more, both of them will get away with it.

Last edited 3 years ago by Kremlington Swan
dq9n9yxq8m
dq9n9yxq8m
3 years ago

Cummings is obviously on the autistic spectrum.

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
3 years ago

Oh, no! Not another return to Barnard Castlegate.

Paul Marks
Paul Marks
3 years ago

The policies followed in the United Kingdom and most other Western countries have been extreme – but rather than a serious discussion about whether or not these extreme policies were warranted, we get Mr Cummings (and others) saying that policy should have been even more extreme – and citing William “Bill” Gates as some sort of great medical mind.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago

I can only think Sayers is worried that some of this stuff Cummings is throwing at Johnson might stick. Government policy (if it can be called a policy) was for herd immunity, actions to restrict the virus were taken too late, at least twice. Tens of thousands died as a result – many more got sick and businesses were closed for longer than necessary.
A formal inquiry into Covid has been timetabled to suit the electoral cycle so the Tories can avoid it being an issue at the next election.
But Sayers crows about the fact that none of this impacts on Johnson’s poll ratings?
The article reads like something you would find on a fanboy website.

Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Fanboy? Did it really escape your notice that Freddie Sayers has spent the last 18 months or so criticizing Johnson’s Covid strategy?

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

That’s what made it striking that he was writing so vehemently in support of Johnson. That’s why I said he must be worried. Sayers might be a critic of Johnson when it suits but he sincerely wants the Conservatives to stay in power.

William Gladstone
William Gladstone
3 years ago

Blah blah, Freddy doing his posh boy hit piece duties. I for one want to know if the government screws up. Frankly they pretty much always do due to corruption, arrogance (just imagine 100,000 Freddy’s running government) and an extremely long history of entitlement and failure. Hit pieces and corruption what the posh boys do well.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

I think that’s rather unfair on Freddy, who seems to be one of the best journalists in the country. I think the article makes many good points about Cummings, and I write as one who has generally been supportive of Cummings’ various programmes. As Freddy says, and as Jordan Peterson said in his most recent Q&A podcast, you don’t really get anywhere by shouting at people and humiliating them. I also appreciate the way in which Freddy takes down Carole Codswalloper.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Freddy is not a journalist – he is an opinion writer and may be an editor.
The piece he wrote (he is depressingly right!) is nothing but a Tory hack job. That is all.
UK has a PM that is a pathological liar, a charlatan, an immoral man…

Last edited 3 years ago by Jeremy Smith
Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Well said. Sayers does interview people – which is one aspect of journalism. But most of the time what is written isn’t journalism but opinion.

Georgi Leask
Georgi Leask
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I don’t agree and anyway, whether any politician (anywhere) can be described as a pathological liar is doubtful as by definition it means someone who lies for no apparent reason.

Last edited 3 years ago by Georgi Leask
Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Georgi Leask

Fine, serial liar. Is that agreeable to you?

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I haven’t actually heard Boris lying. I’ve heard Blair, Brown, Cameron, and Mrs May all doing it though.