by UnHerd Staff
Thursday, 21
October 2021
Seen Elsewhere
17:00

Dominic Cummings’s advice to Labour: sack Starmer

The former chief advisor to Boris Johnson details how Labour can win in 2024
by UnHerd Staff
Credit: Getty

Dominic Cummings has laid out a roadmap for how Labour can avoid another Conservative landslide in 2024. According to the former chief advisor to Boris Johnson, Labour is overlooking — wilfully or otherwise — basic fundamentals that will make it a winning political party. These are simple enough: a leader that the public thinks is a ‘plausible alternative’ to the current leader and a small core team who understand the priorities of the general population. Labour currently has neither, he argues. First, because Starmer lacks the relative virtues of both charismatic Corbyn or milquetoast Miliband. Second, because Labour isn’t tough on crime or tough on Johnson’s blunders, which polling suggests would do well with swing voters.

First step, Cummings insists, is to accept Starmer as a dud or ‘dead-player’ :

Starmer is a mediocre lawyer with normal SW1 management skills, i.e hopeless… [He] comments on dumb stuff and doesn’t understand ‘let it go’…. Like the PM he has no discernible priorities and like the PM, and David Cameron, he can’t resist being a pundit on irrelevant stuff. Instead of having week-after-week focus on violent crime, he babbles about the next Bond and stumbles into broadcast interviews with no clear idea of the story he’s trying to make and therefore accidentally makes news on stuff that’s irrelevant or makes him look even worse.
- Dominic Cummings, Substack

He suggests that he should be replaced by a ‘Midlands woman’, namely Lisa Nandy. With Starmer’s stuttering on cervixes at this year’s conference, this move might repair Labour’s reputation on women’s rights, especially as Boris ‘cannot take women seriously’.

But just as importantly, the party needs to distance itself from the SW1 elitism:

The best educated people think they are rational and not susceptible to illusions and stories while the public are irrational and therefore should be corralled by the priests of the ‘cathedral’ (i.e Harvard, Oxbridge, NYT, Guardian), but the truth is that the best educated are more susceptible to illusions and stories than the general uneducated public.
- Dominic Cummings, Substack

Cummings diagnoses Starmer as too obsessed with the culture wars and not skilful enough to take political advantage of Johnson’s broken tax promises, Covid misfires and so on. Normal people have to ‘filter their priorities’, but Cummings thinks that ‘MPs, hacks and academics’ find this borderline impossible. 

A healthy opposition ought to be buzzing given Johnson’s recent blunders. The former No10 advisor details the mischief and mayhem of what a winning campaign should look like:

There are hot women and beer and pizza and music in the office on Friday and Saturday night because the place is bursting with energy. And they enjoy kicking their opponents down the street at 10pm on a Saturday night when the other side are in ‘work-life balance’ mode. Labour’s team know the PM and Carrie sit ludicrously twitching at twitter on Saturday night when the papers drop — they should be driving the two of them crazy with rage and panic every Saturday night, thus creating a wave of horrific phone calls across Tory-world and constantly ruining everyone’s weekends.
- Dominic Cummings, Substack

If the Tories are betting on Starmer staying in, Labour could play a wildcard by electing a new leader and listening to unsatisfied Tory voters. Could Cummings be the man to force their hand?

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Paul Sorrenti
Paul Sorrenti
11 months ago

Lisa ‘I believe in people’s right to self-ID and they should be accommodated in a prison of their choosing’ Nandy . . . to repair Labour’s reputation regarding women’s rights?
Cummings is my favourite troll

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
11 months ago
Reply to  Paul Sorrenti

That’s what I thought. He’s setting out a path to damage limitation that is simply impossible for Labour to follow, so if they tried, they’d get thrashed worse.

Leon Wivlow
Leon Wivlow
11 months ago
Reply to  Paul Sorrenti

Lisa Nandy of ‘Refugees Are Welcome in Wigan ‘ fame until they started pestering school girls. Now she is trying to get them moved. What a hypocrite.

Last edited 11 months ago by Leon Wivlow
Al M
Al M
11 months ago
Reply to  Paul Sorrenti

I was rather perplexed by that. My take is that the author got his politicians mixed up and he meant Jess Phillips. For one thing, Nandy is from the North West and Phillips is actually from the Midlands. Nandy is what you would expect from a family of middle class Marxist intellectuals and has nothing to say to working people: an entire career in politics and the third sector.
One thing that Labour could have done is elect the moderate and popular Ian Murray as Deputy Leader, which would have given them a much needed boost in Scotland; instead they handed Johnson another electoral gift, with Angela Rayner shooting her mouth off at every opportunity.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
11 months ago

Where left-wing parties went wrong was when they started claiming that men can be women and that to state otherwise could risk loss of livelihood. Who in their right mind would want to number themselves among those looney-tunes? If they’re so wrong about biology, how can they be correct about more complex matters such as economics, welfare, social housing, and foreign policy? I don’t understand how they are still in existence in their current form.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
11 months ago

I just long for a credible Labour Party, but I’m not holdng my breath.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
11 months ago

He’s sort of starting from the wrong place. The leader and shad cab are elected by the members. The first thing the Labour Party needs to do is replace all its members. At the moment they are all vicious spiteful loony hatemongers. Hopefully the new ones would be along the lines of John Smith, Denis Healey, David Owen, Frank Field, Kate Hoey, Caroline Flint – that sort of Labourite.
The next thing would be to change the internal election arrangements so that MPs are elected by local parties no longer dominated by neo-Marxist anti-Semites. These MPs would then elect the leader who would appoint the other shad cab positions. This would avoid the situation where the vicious nutters elect a malevolent Stalinist chav like Rayner, who thereby acquires her own mandate, and hence couldn’t be sacked by Starmer even if she were to call for all Tories to be gassed.
You’d then have a sensible and pragmatic grassroots electing similar MPs who’d elect a similar leader who’d appoint to the shad cab the most able communicators.
The whole exercise of how to make Labour electable is a bit like discussing the best way to roast a dragon. There’s an obvious problem right at the outset that has no obvious solution.

David McDowell
David McDowell
11 months ago

They won’t and can’t. The electorate is rammed with Muswell Hill Remoaners and is incapable of seeing the future in terms of anything other than an attempted stealth return to EU membership.

David McDowell
David McDowell
11 months ago

That’s correct but it’s nowhere near enough.

Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
11 months ago
Reply to  David McDowell

Jess Phillips seems the most coherent and relatable. I’d listen to her, even when she does get passionate about something. It’s clearly genuine, not a courtroom performance, and she’s always prepared to back up what she says.

Chris Bredge
Chris Bredge
11 months ago
Reply to  Kate Heusser

Yes, but can you remember how completely out of her depth she was when running for leader last time?
Also, the Labour party seem incapable of voting for women leaders. The last time was meant to be an (almost) women only short list and they ended up with Sir Kier!

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
11 months ago

If I may paraphrase.
The point of the Labour Party is to provide employment for the sons of people who can’t quite pass for gentleman.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
11 months ago

It is so odd reading my Daily Mail on-line, USA edition, how the UK section is NOTHING…. just some Markle, tons of hysterical covid, Boris doing or saying some pointless thing, maybe a knifing, and that is it – the rest third rate celebrity and TV show gossip, maybe something about traffic congestion.

There is 99% total lack of Political Personalities in UK! But turn to the USA section – a Las Vegas councilwoman running for Governor of Nevada drives a big truck into the desert and shoots beer bottles labeled Vaccine Mandates, Critical Race Theory, and Voter Fraud with a large handgun she wears on her hip…..https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10108881/GOP-firebrand-Michele-Fiore-enters-Nevada-governors-race.html watch the video… it is great…This is Politics USA style!

Anyway in the USA section it is one mad Politico after another, all up to wild stuff, most of it no good, but wild – and we know all their names and lurid actions. So many personalities, so much craziness – it is like the UK section is Kansas in Black and White film, with stodgy farmers and farm workers, and the USA section is The Land of Oz in full colour and populated with amazing and strange and dangerous creatures up to insane things.

That is why Labour cannot get any leaders – the British Politics are just not interesting. Sometimes shady, some times stupid, all times dull.

David Simpson
David Simpson
11 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

which is possibly the point. Why go bonkers when everyone else is so much better at it?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
11 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Erm, I’m not really sure that US politics is a great model. I watched the film of the ‘Capitol Insurrection’ the other day, what an embarrassing shambles, half literate fat weirdos, I’m sorry, but the ‘woke’ set don’t have too much to worry about there.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

I am one of the stereotype ‘half literate fat weirdos’ in many ways – a ‘Red Neck’ I suppose – I am a tradesman in the USA South, drive a truck, have a dog at work with me, am MAGA leaning, Republican. I may be originally from Europe, but have gone native over my decades here.

The ‘Great Selfie Insurrection’, of Jan 6 was a big mistake – but hardly an insurrection. What army of rabble storms a Capital armed only with a phone/camera to take a picture of themselves on site – then stays within the ropes wile touring, and leaves without harming anything?

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
11 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

The problem with Labour politicians is that almost all are drawn from a narrow class of the University educated (it applies also to the Tory ones) who absorb a particular progressive view of the world. Diversity just means bringing in more people with a darker skin colour but a similar world view.
The proportion of MPs with a background of manual labour has collapsed since the 1950s. To some extent this was inevitable as manual labour itself reduced but it meant that far too few MPs have a deep connected understanding of how large swathes of the population think. Like George Brown they just think when confronted with a traditional labour voter that they are meeting a “bigoted woman” without realising it is their own bigotry that prevents them taking on board what she says.
Previously, both posh Tories and Labour MPs knew that there were plenty of manual labourers who were highly intelligent but had not had the chances they had had. Today the assumption is too often made that if you haven’t been to University then you are too stupid to understand political issues and your views are not worthy of consideration. You are one of the “deplorable” in the US or a thick Brexitier in the UK.
A knowledge of the Indian Vernacular Act and being a tradesman and driving a truck would not compute.

Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
11 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Great comment, straight to the point. But it was ‘Gordon’ who got caught on an open mic. Gordon Brown. Not George. Although maybe George thought the same way. We’ll never know.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
11 months ago
Reply to  Kate Heusser

Yes, I am old enough to remember George Brown. A rather different character to Gordon. I was tempted to try to edit my post but decided not as it would make a nonsense of your post.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Personally I’d rather not see childish, idiotic publicity stunts from our politicians like the one you mentioned. I’d rather our elected representatives carried themselves with a bit of decorum.
That’s not to say they can’t be charismatic, the problem with the UK is that all of them have had similar upbringings in middle class families, through to a middling university degree and a whole working life in the party apparatus. Many know little outside the Westminster bubble as they’re career politicians. A few more from working class backgrounds, or at least who have worked outside politics or the media would improve it no end

Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
11 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Personally I’d rather not see childish, idiotic publicity stunts from our politicians like the one you mentioned. I’d rather our elected representatives carried themselves with a bit of decorum.’
But we got Boris. 

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
11 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

The Daily Mail accurately reflects both nations.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
11 months ago

Is there any government in the world which is OK, has responsible people who are not self-seeking, gets all decisions right, etc. It is the easiest thing in the world to blame the government for everything but the difficult thing is to come up with an alternative.
UnHerd is getting more and more about blame. Why not new ideas?

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Is there any government in the world which is OK, has responsible people who are not self-seeking, gets all decisions right, etc
Singapore?

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
11 months ago

Perhaps Boris has secretly rehired Dom, and Dom is now out to destroy Labour from the inside?
Keir seems to me quite intelligent and quietly getting control of core Labour. If he was from Wolverhampton or Rochdale that would be helpful, but he is certainly able to understand the working class roots of Labour. If he can keep the job, by the next election his decency and saneness could make him formidable, but he knows there is no point peaking too soon, and also that he must first reunite the party

Matt B
Matt B
11 months ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

But he was quite prepared as an uncomplaining 1st officer to sail with Corbyn to an ominously unpleasant New Dawn. All about power and nothing about routes and maps?

Last edited 11 months ago by Matt B
Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
11 months ago

Lisa Nandy believes that a man who says that he is a woman actually becomes one and, if he commits rape (a crime that can only be committed with a p***s) he should be housed in a women’s prison.

jonathan carter-meggs
jonathan carter-meggs
11 months ago

You are of course right but that is what we have until our AI overlords take over. In the mean time I agree with everything DC says on Labour.

Matt B
Matt B
11 months ago

This seems to be the rant of a scorned lover hell-bent on revenge for being slighted then jilted. Is it about helping anyone?

Last edited 11 months ago by Matt B
Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
11 months ago

according to his blog, he does genuinely seem to want to improve the system

Jay Gls
Jay Gls
11 months ago

Get Paul Embery as Labour leader. That’s what really would give them a shot.