Boris Johnson’s special adviser Dominic Cummings’ can be funny, as his description of David Cameron showed, and some think he’s both a maverick and a genius. But it’s lies like the ‘£350 million a week’ Brexit bus slogan that define him, writes Kevan Christie.
Boris Johnson’s special adviser Dominic Cummings is a genius.
I know this because Tories, others in the Westminster bubble and lazy journalists are throwing their knickers at him in the hope he sprinkles some magic genius dust their way.
Of course he’s also a maverick – so that makes him a “maverick genius” – and among other things a “thrusting moderniser” who “doesn’t suffer fools gladly”. Cabinet ministers and senior civil servants are locking themselves in toilets to avoid Dom – the guy who masterminded the Vote Leave campaign with the absolute genius ‘Take Back Control’ slogan that must have taken him all of ten minutes to think up in his bed or coffin, whichever one he sleeps in, if he sleeps at all.
He’s also believed to be responsible for the “£350 million a week” porkie that appeared on the Boris battle bus during the referendum and featured in the Channel 4 programme Brexit: The Uncivil War where Dom was played by “edgy working-class” actor Benedict Cumberbatch.
A video has emerged this week from 2017 of Cummings tellling a conference that “Tory MPs largely do not care about these poorer people. They don’t care about the NHS. And the public has cottoned on to that”. Sheer genius, what a revelation. Cummings is the Electorate Whisperer, playing on our hopes and fears, while pouring his golden liar’s elixir down our throats. We saw the crescent but he saw the whole of the moon.
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This meant the Vote Leave campaign, which by the way he masterminded, fed us more lies about Turkey and floods of immigrants flocking to our shores.
This played well with Northerners in places like Sunderland who have since been abandoned and left to wander the streets like post-apocalyptic zombies since the Jeremy Kyle Show was axed.
Forget minor indiscretions like his refusal in March to give oral evidence to MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee for their inquiry into disinformation, who said he had shown a “total disregard” for Parliament.
Or the fact that in July 2018, the Electoral Commission announced Vote Leave had broken electoral law by overspending, imposing a £61,000 fine and referring it to the police.
For Dominic Cummings is a genius, of that there can be no doubt, and geniuses do not bother themselves with such tittle-tattle.
I’ve noticed a trend for geniuses in the workplace of late and believe this merits further examination.
The genius – be he in the bank, insurance company or government office – is always a white man who seems to be just one inappropriate text message away from a breakdown, a messy HR investigation and an Alan Partridge-style gorge on Toblerone, while driving to Dundee in his bare feet.
Women don’t go in for this nonsense, you never hear women labelling other women as geniuses, mavericks or maverick geniuses for that matter.
Sure, they pass compliments and admire positive role models but they don’t feel the need to label someone who has decided to wear trainers to work and/or swear a bit more a genius. Bully maybe, genius no.
Cummings, it has been reported, wears T-shirts, rather than more formal attire, and sometimes turns up with his jumper inside out.
Of course, no-one thought to say “mate, yer jumper’s inside oot” in case that disrupted the genius thought patterns he was having.
Characters like Cummings play well with former public schoolboys who are used to being bullied. It gives them a sense of well-being, knowing there’s someone who can provide abuse on tap in the parameters of a system akin to the workings of a boarding school.
This trend for genius – and woe betide anyone who is unfashionably ‘off message’ – comes wrapped in waffle which helps direct the direction of travel, moving forward ... obvs. And Dom’s got a special ‘data science machine’ that he carries around with him and only a few chosen people like Boris, another maverick genius, and Michael (Gove) are allowed to see it – it’s called a laptop.
By the way, anyone who decides to work for Michael Gove has clearly never seen him jog. He looks like a kid who’s forgotten their PE kit and has been forced to run in their underpants and shoes. All Labour need to do to win the next General Election is play a video of Gove running on a loop.
I digress, where were we? Ah, yes genius. In his defence, I don’t think we can actually blame Dominic Cummings if a bunch of sycophantic losers, the last pick in any playground for five-a-side, decided that they needed a genius to deliver some lies and bullshit for their Brexit campaign.
He never asked to be labelled a genius but is happy to feed these mugs a bit of waffle and trouser some hefty coin in the process.
Cummings has previously described former prime minister David Cameron as a “sphinx without a riddle” and tweeted that the then Brexit secretary, David Davis, was as “thick as mince”, so there is a sense of humour there.
But a quick look on his blog reveals his modus operandi, which is to challenge “dysfunctionally” large institutions like the civil service and political parties to basically pay dysfunctional people like him to tell them where they’re going wrong.
So what if you have to tell a few whoppers on the way – this is a genius we’re dealing with here. Depressingly, what legitimises Cummings in the eyes of Leave voters is the win he’s now got on his record. He fits nicely onto the top of the podium and that’s all that matters. Forget the methods he employed and the lies he told.
So, he may well be a genius to some but I prefer the description of Cummings by the actor Rory Kinnear, playing his opposite number Craig Oliver in the Remain campaign. “He’s not the Messiah. He’s just a f****** a*******.”