A fascinating read. Well done Suzanne Moore !
Isn’t it curious how often people do better when they’re released from an earlier career and stop needing to be tribally loyal ? Suzanne seems to have improved. Michael Portillo has thrived. Even Ed B…s (Yvette Cooper’s husband – this seems to be a forbidden word here). Edwina Curry and David Mellor become bearable.
I felt like a new woman when I left regular employment and the attendant office/presence culture to go self-employed. Paradoxically, I needed to remove myself from the collective in order to get on with it better. I still don’t deal well with parties, smalltalk or office politics and need to be on my own a lot – but then really enjoy socialising when I can choose it.
Isn’t it curious how often people do better when they’re released from an earlier career and stop needing to be tribally loyal ?
The best thing that happened to Suzanne Moore’s writing was all those nutters at the Guardian ganging up on her. But some has-beens are best ignored. Tony Blair and John Major seem to rise from their crypt every now and again, each time more decomposed, with sonorous and vacuous pronouncements of doom.
Fascinating interview and the following line speaks to my very soul:
“I’m not a joiner by nature. I don’t like parties. “Parties” or parties. I don’t like going to parties”.
On the other hand – even though I feel Dominic Cummings was/is a pivotal figure and could have made some really positive changes…he does not help himself. The disinterest in his own emotional state seems to go hand in hand with an extreme lack of self-reflection (or willingness to reflect on himself and his actions). Therefore, the open mood which I started to read this interview with gradually withered through all the “I did X to achieve Y…I did this, I did that because Z, I, I, I…” into “oh do pipe down, man!”
At the end, I’m left with a dreadful sadness that the country I grew up in and still love dearly is being piloted by such a ship of feckless idiots with no improvement in sight.
But I will say again what I have been thinking for several years and it chimes in with what Cummings says here: Britain desperately needs a meteoric shake to reform itself right from the bottom. Brexit delivered that bombshell – happily in a democratic way instead of the chaos of a revolution.
The lack of ability to deal with Brexit or its consequences will means that the reform process is going to be so much more painful for the people in Britain than it has to be and there will be a lot of anger about that – I’m glad I’m not there tbh. But things will change – because there is no other way. Stuff collapsing will not be pleasant, but only if that happens will new stuff take its place.
I would say that he is autistic. Hence disconnection to his own emotions – but very able to see the issues and speak about them bluntly.
autistic doesn’t mean ‘disconnection with emotions’. Also, he only said that he wasn’t interested in verbalizing his emotions
The idea of being ‘interested in my own emotions’ seems more like an autistic disconnect, if anything
Interestingly 21st century to feel that having no interest in ones own emotions is some form of diagnosable mental illness. Actually it’s just being old skool. Being able to put oneself in some sort of perspective rather than seeing everything through the prism of one’s own wants and needs. Mind you, that being said, he does come across as a total ego-maniac. And he was as wrong as you can get over Covid, which I note he still doesn’t admit. There is no evidence that one single thing we did saved one single life. And it may yet prove the case that we did serious harm.
It’s sliding slightly off piste but around Covid I think Britain was (still is) so stuck in the Brexit referendum frozen conflict that we had a split society, which meant taking any contrarian actions was particularly high risk. So when Italy was broadcasting the images from Bergamo hospital and everyone across Europe was closing down, our own attempt to go with herd immunity ( an infelicitous phrase) like Sweden was howled down by many across the political spectrum and media.
Indeed for a year or so our *slowness* in locking down was frequently criticised in the strongest terms as *causing* deaths.
I think this meant we abandoned that and went with the flow, not as hard as France or maybe Germany, but harder than some.
I think recent reappraisals of the Covid death toll and suchlike show the UK now dropping ‘down’ the table of fatalities, although that doesn’t seem to affect the early established *Plague Island* narrative.
I think had we tried to be more like Sweden we would not have seen the same willingness that Sweden found with their people, and media, going along with it.
That doesn’t absolve the government, or Cummings, and we will see what a proper enquiry will bring, but if we got it wrong, then so did many other countries across Europe.
It’s nice to be reassured, even in the form of Dominic Cummings, that parties are a form of punishment for having acquaintances. I even flinch at the mere sight of the noun and feel like I need a sit down when someone uses it as a verb.
And I truly believe a majority of people secretly don’t enjoy them. I recall one poll (yes, okay, I know) during that period in which the largest group of respondents reported that the most obvious benefit of lockdowns had been… not having to attend parties.
Yes, it was quite a relief in some ways. My other half was delighted about the aspect of social distancing which advised against kissing people on both cheeks as a greeting (we live in continental Europe where that is usual). He could never stand it and has the perfect excuse now not to!
I don’t know Dominic Cummings at all but I did cover the NE assembly thing early this century and he and John Elliott took on about as big as opponent as is possible to get in UK politics (Every other party nationally and regionally, unions, and virtually every charity and quango)…
Elliott the campaign figurehead would joke at pressers that *the* had Blair, Brown, Howard, Kennedy, and so o0n …. and I have a big inflatable white elephant I have to blow up with a pump before every interview I give.
But the Cummings/Elliott side could jump on a gaffe quicker than a chameleon hitting it’s lunch..and the *Geordie* Parliament that keps getting mentioned by Blair etc was a huge one (weird when Blair was famously a NE pit village area constituency MP in County Durham).
That crystallised the idea that the yes side wanted to set up another talking shop in Newcastle..which is seen as the min-London to MIddlesbrough, Co Durham and Sunderland’s non-metropolitan areas.
They outnumber Newcastle population-wise by around the 4 to 1 against ratio that the referendum vote ended up at.
I voted Leave in 2016 but expected to see Remain win around midnight … even after we had the lady in red hoisted above cheering Leave supporters come in from Sunderland, I still thought Remain would win…but it quickly became clear how it was going to play out.
I may be overly easy to impress but I feel being involved in those two votes makes Cummings a bit of a political genius for such a febrile time as we have now.
Possibly, a wee bit self-centred on the *me,I,myself* front but to a degree, justifiably so.
Very good indeed, new insights. I know he has his issues but he was full on about Civil Service reform, which is desperately needed, there were some almost audible collective sighs of relief from mandarins when he was ousted by Carrie.
Also his attitude to getting in a bunch of hard workers who actually want to change things for the better, ‘sacrificing’ their private lives to do so, is excellent. Wish he was back…despite him being totally wrong on lockdowns.
I almost agree with you, but come the ultimate test he was unable to save even himself from Princess Nut Nut.
Not a good recommendation!
Nobody can save themselves from the bosses wife.
Or, as Max Bailystock said in The Producers; “There’s always a role in the show for the producers girlfriend”
I have some regard for DC in the way he speaks his mind and I suspect he probably does have a strong desire to improve the country – or rather change various governmental processes to make them run in a way he personally deems as being more efficient.
The problem when one looks over his CV is that he really doesn’t appear to have had much success at achieving this type of root and branch change in a systemic and organised way. The nearest he got to being effective seems to have been when he was employed by Gove as his personal bully-boy, but other than that his career seems to have consisted of walking out or the usual PR activities.
Looking at the type of language he employs it is all rather sturm-und-drang (no I’m not a Guardian-reading sociology lecturer – just a handy phrase from my German O-Level days).
By that I mean everything is about ‘tearing’ or ‘ripping’ up things. Plus a rather incessant use of the F word which gets a bit tedious – someone needs to tell him it is really not a profanity anymore.
Frankly he seems a little naive about exactly how management works. IMHO true systemic change is often effected by the very 9-5’ers who he seems to despise – they’re the well-balanced people who quietly come into work, seamlessly negotiate to ensure that all the various people and players line up behind the changes they wish to put into place, and then having achieved that increment of the transformation for the day go home to switch off and relax.
As I suspect many of us here have experienced, the wild eyed brigade who are helicoptered in as prospective saviours for the organisation generally escape through the back door within 1-2 years, though sadly usually leaving a weakened organisation and redundancies behind them.
For me the real giveaway is his rather myopic view of the various political parties – Greens and Liberals don’t merit a mention, and his personalisation of the Labour opposition at the time as being simply ‘Corbyn’ reveals a rather disabling prejudice rather than incisive political analysis. Anyone who thinks that Corbyn ‘led’ Labour and would have been in control of policy is displaying an alarming lack of insight into the inner workings of the Labour Party.
Had he said “blah blah and Labour would have been rubbish.. ” that would indicated some sort of insight – but his obsession with Corbyn shows that despite his worship of ‘great minds’, his own has a rather small aspect.
(For one thing I suspect a number of Conservative supporters do now wonder whether the country might not indeed have been better run by what may have been a slightly less dysfunctional Labour cabinet).
The awkward truth is that Dominic Cummings – as well intentioned as I think he probably was and is – was ultimately used and thrown away by the very people he had little respect for at the time and who he now actively disparages. A tale as old as time.
I’d begun to turn against Cummings, who I’d once seen as a great man, and began to view him as a petty vindictive bitter little man. This interview has reminded of exactly why I liked him in the first place. With his defenestration from our pathetic government Britain has lost the one reformist that might have made some headway against our country’s malaise.
But he forgot that it was Boris who was elected, while he was only there by on Boris’ say-so. If he was as clever and talented as he clearly thinks he is, maybe he should have made it work.
It certainly seems tragic that Carrie replaced Marina.
There are some very junior people who I like, who I won’t curse by naming — if I name them then everyone will hate them. But it’s a very, very poor Cabinet.
Great interview – my view of Cummings hasn’t changed. Unfortunately the country is still being led by idiots promoted beyond their ability with no original workable ideas.
Can you be surprised when a) we pay them less than they could get in a halfway decent private sector job. b) they are now open to hounding on a colossal scale on social media and c) we appear to expect government to save us from both poverty and death. The state can do neither. What we actually need is far less of the state. The fact that what we have is so poor is the proof we’d be better off rolling it all right back.
That quickly?Immediately after the election. The election happens; there’s five or so days and then he’s sauntered off to some sort of billionaire island; and then at the beginning of January she immediately was on at him about firing all of us, which obviously is not a great way of starting a new government.
Immediately after the election. The election happens; there’s five or so days and then he’s sauntered off to some sort of billionaire island; and then at the beginning of January she immediately was on at him about firing all of us, which obviously is not a great way of starting a new government.
This is interesting; I know it was all over the press and looked into because paid for by David Ross, donor etc, but who else was there at the time? Could he have been ‘got at’ whilst on hols?
I agree with a lot of the comments Dominic Cummings has made over the past few years about how the civil service has prioritised recruiting obedient people rather than people who actually have expertise in issues that they should be advising democratically elected leaders on.
I was rejected from the UK Foreign Office in 2003 at the application stage. I applied to them very clearly stating that I had a First Class degree in Arabic and Persian, had studied at Esfahan University in Iran and the British Council in Egypt and that I had travelled extensively around Asia. Someone from the company Capita, who had been given the contract for sifting applications at that time, told me on the phone that they couldn’t see any evidence of me having enough experience of being able to deal with living in other cultures. How much experience did a person need to get an interview with the Foreign Office back then?
Back when I applied, Bush and Blair were loudly celebrating their invasion of Iraq and were talking openly about invading Iran. Having written my final year dissertation on British-Iranian relations since the fatwa on Salman Rushdie, I was dead set against their invasion. I had enough knowledge of Iran’s history to know about how it was the British and Americans who had destroyed Iran’s short-lived democracy in the 1950s by organising a coup against Mohammad Mossadegh to replace him with the Shah that made their claims to want to ‘bring democracy to Iran’ to be something of a joke.
Looking back it feels to me as if I was deliberately kept out of a government job back then where I could have been of use to the UK. Whilst the Labour Party continue to blame everything that is wrong with the UK right now on the Conservatives, it was under a Labour government that I was rejected by way of Capita – a much loved company by Tony Blair and his friends that most people in the UK could see was very far from being an effective organisation.
My experience in Australian Federal and State governments was similar. In Queensland, where I’d been recruited by Kevin Rudd to write the State’s economic development policy, a high-level supporter later said that I was seen as a threat because of my “honesty, integrity, intellect and analytical rigour.”
A highly amusing read about the views of one person who – by his own admission – has no time or inclination for introspection. And those who he’d have liked to have seen working 16 hour days in Whitehall might presumably have been of the same ilk. However technically gifted with graphs… no thanks!
Whatever the problems we as a country face, not having Cummings in a position of influence any longer is, in my opinion, a huge positive, and Suzanne Moore deserves plaudits for bringing us this insightful piece; insightful, in a “telling tales out of school” insightful way. Those who engage in such childish rhetoric deserve their fate.
Meh! He was the one who pushed lockdowns and the first to openly break it and get away with it. Personally, I was against lockdown from the start so have little care for those who forced it on us and then disregarded it themselves. Two finger salute from me on that one.
He admits that there isn’t anyone particularly fit for office and yet calls those who don’t vote, because there is no-one fit for voting for, [email protected]! Surely by taking part in the farce is half the problem in nothing changing!
He admits that there isn’t anyone particularly fit for office and yet calls those who don’t vote, because there is no-one fit for voting for, [email protected]!
I think you’ve misread it; when Cummings says, ‘Most people just think: “What’s the point? They’re all a bunch of wankers”, I believe he is attributing the opinion that ‘politicians are a bunch of [email protected]’ to the non-voters, not calling those non-voters ‘a bunch of [email protected]’.
I would be interested to hear his thoughts on who would be a good PM. Maybe Lord Frost?
I agree, that would have been a great question to dig into. Next PM needs to be a Leaver (or the party won’t elect them) with senior cabinet experience (or the MPs won’t elect them).
So that’s Sunak, Gove, Patel, Raab or at a pinch Steve Barclay.
Or if it could be engineered Lord Frost. Who would get my vote.
Next PM needs to be not tory
Next PM needs to be a conservative.
Ben Wallace fits the criteria too……
Suzanne – or anyone – any idea when the aution is?
Not that I want to rant about Brexit but it would be fascinating to spend an hour talking to him!
He understands working class people up North. For all his faults, Blair knew Labour couldn’t be elected without them.
Cummings’ own political views are incoherent but very good on other people. Does he really think we could have stopped Covid by shutting down earlier – he hasn’t learned much in two years.
Too much swearing.
I’m not a joiner by nature. I don’t like parties. “Parties” or parties. I don’t like going to parties.
Who would want this leaky glum bucket at their parties? I met his wife Mary Wakefield once at a Spectator tea party, and she’s really nice and normal. Perhaps he is too, in a domestic setting, but he comes over as difficult and grumpy. I hope he doesn’t swear like a trooper in front of his son.
I’ve always had utmost respect for Suzanne Moore but the fact that she does not press Cummings on points about leaving Europe and letting him get away with saying joining the euro was disastrous for Greek is irrelevant. Greece joined the Euro years before Brexit and this is irrelevant to where the UK is now. And the cheap shots at Carrie Johnson are just cheap and nasty. BJ is who he is, leave this, and all the women in his life, out of it.
He doesn’t seem to want to answer the question “Do you still think it was right to leave Europe?”. And why would a second referendum have been a disaster when he wanted two referenda in the first place? Could it be because that would have shot down his beloved Brexit?
And from our point of view, it vindicates our basic idea: that we should do Brexit.But that’s the start. You then have to go through these institutions and they need to be ripped up and rebooted in all sorts of ways.
And from our point of view, it vindicates our basic idea: that we should do Brexit.
But that’s the start. You then have to go through these institutions and they need to be ripped up and rebooted in all sorts of ways.
Seems clear to me.
A second referendum would have been a terrible idea because you can’t ask people to vote and then tell them to vote again because you don’t like their decision.
It shouldn’t really need to be explained to anyone.
To their eternal shame, didn’t the Irish vote twice?
They were forced to vote twice, the same way we almost were by the juggernaut of Remainer backlash.
didn’t the Irish vote twice?
To be sure, to be sure.
I think he was saying one ref to vote leave/remain and another one on basically hard/soft.
No. He explicitly answered that question for you. Even Suzanne Moore seems to agree now ! Which part of “Now we know we are best off out of it” do you not understand ?
Stop trying to shoehorn an anti-Brexit narrative in here. Even with the entire political establishment backing Remain, they still lost. Either the Remain side were completely incompetent (curiously they all got gongs for their work). Or they were wrong. Or both.
Here’s the passage for you:
“Do you still think it was right to leave Europe?
A lot of people, especially the centre-Left in London, thought joining the Euro would be a success. Now we know we are best off out of it. When the Euro came under pressure it completely wrecked the Greek economy.
That took the blinkers off for me.”
Read that again; he is explicitly referring to the Euro and not to ‘Europe’.
It amounts to the same thing. If you do not believe in the Euro, you have no place in the EU moving forwards.
And this is the thing. People voted to leave for this reason: “in your guts, you know it’s nuts” (to borrow from LBJ). They instinctively knew that the Euro was crazy and not for us. They instinctively disliked subsidising continental ineffeciency and fraud (CAP, EU accounts never signed off … need I continue ?). They knew that the EU was veering off in a centralised, bureaucratic, wasteful and unaccountable direction over which they would have rapidly diminishing influence and no control.
And they saw with their own eyes the inability of the EU to respond in a correct or timely manner to a succession of crises – EU debt/Greece/Euro, the breakup of Yugoslavia (bailed out by the USA), mass illegal immigration to list just a few. Since 2016 we can add energy planning, the EU Covid vaccines farce (in which they even threatened to invoke Article 16), the incoherent and slow response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The people were right.
Love Europe, Hate EU.
Love Football, Hate FIFA.
Which words in “And from our point of view, it vindicates our basic idea: that we should do Brexit.” do you not understand?
When you read Cummings, you have to ask yourself, ‘He may critique others with gusto, but what has he achieved himself?’.
This man lacks any sort of moral fibre and l am saddened by the fact you would even consider giving him a column inch ! Do better !
Starmer might be rubbish but at least he would be honest rubbish
I’d like to see Putin and Cummings put in the same place, so they could rail against everything until they die.
It’s great to see many women commenting for a change . I enjoyed reading the interview, you would not get away with this language in printed press but I appreciate that with DC it was essential to show the essence of his character.
I have observed that the moderators did not pick up on the job ad for ‘easy work’ sent from 3 different accounts !