Boris can’t get rid of Dominic. He’s his brain. Boris on his own is glib, lazy and fundamentally stupid. Dominic by contrast is – not exactly intelligent, I would say, but cunning. He read History at University: a more cerebral subject than Johnson’s Classics, which is chiefly a matter of having a good memory. (That at any rate was its reputation at my University; and I’ve seen no evidence since from ex-Classical scholars to prove me wrong.) Apparently Dom’s History essays at Oxford were highly ‘original’; which may testify to his cleverness, but not necessarily to his judgment.
Obviously that rather let him down during his latest escapade – breaking his own government’s ‘stay at home’ injunction to drive up to Durham – unless it was part of a very cunning plan to – I don’t know – undermine his present patron, so that he can take over; or perhaps to further his original scheme – ‘herd immunity’ – to infect oldies, like his parents, in the North-East with the virus he’d picked up in London. (Can it be a coincidence that the mortality level in County Durham, quite low before he went there, soared soon afterwards?) In any case, he’s clearly indispensible to the duffer Johnson, who wouldn’t have won either the Brexit campaign or the last General Election without Dom’s Machiavellian scheming.
It’s hard to see where either of them goes from here. Even Tories are dismayed that Dom is still in post. There are even choppier waters coming up, what with Brexit, a new Great Depression, and all the rest. Boris’s schoolboy bluster – painfully exhibited in his ‘defence’ of Cummings at his televised press conference this afternoon – won’t get us through all that. And Cummings’s ‘scientific’ approach to politics, if he can find another patron after Boris – Gove, perhaps? – looks positively dangerous.
Hi Bernard, it’s Nick Must who does ‘stuff’ for Robin Ramsay & Lobster here.
Your comments re Cummings and Johnson certainly ring true to me. Even more so, I would say that Johnson is a “posho-thickie” and “posho-thickies” can be relied upon to be entirely in awe of those they acknowledge to be more intelligent than themselves. As you say, Cummings is undoubtedly intelligent. I would say he fits the Conan Doyle characterisation of Sherlock Holmes as “the perfect reasoning machine”. That supposed advantage actually got Holmes (admittedly a fictional creation) into more than a few scrapes but the same could be said for what has now happened to the real-life Cummings. Who is to say that there haven’t been similar, less publicly made, ultra-gaffes by the Svengali-in Chief?
I disagree with you, however, about the infections in the North East that spiked after the visit. At his No.10 rose garden presser, Cummings clearly stated that he has never been tested for COVID-19 and neither (do I believe) has his wife Mary Wakefield. Their son did get tested while up at Durham – and the result was negative. So the son didn’t catch it from his parents, who had been so petrified that they were carriers. I get the very clear impression that the negative test result for the son was the wake-up for Cummings and Wakefield, who realised they had over-reacted: the son was clear, which meant they themselves were also clear – so they decided to head back to London.
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The glibness and plausible superficiality of Cummings, so characteristic of a certain type of public school boy, is currently on full display. And a cavalier approach to the ‘truth’, as Johnson and Gove always have (especially in their ‘journalism’), and although he wants to dispense with the conventional civil service way of doing things, he is himself the model of what the civil service is so often criticised for – an Oxford arts generalist amateurism. But as ever with politicians, watch what they do not what they say and the current situation has provided many examples of his type of hypocrisy and arrogance.
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