I start this off with a disclaimer: I believe there is no such thing as a good Tory (please also note: the views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Gef’s editorial stance- although they should).
Yet, what I do enjoy, is a Tory strategist who leaves the party and acts chaotically.
I don’t like Dominic Cummings. I do not think he is a good person. I think he is, probably, a bad person. He is probably reading this, as he probably has a Google Alert for his own name, as that is the kind of person he is.
However, I cannot pretend that Dominic Cummings isn’t a very, very clever person, who is very good at what he does: namely convincing half a country that Brexit is actually a good thing. He speaks Russian and enjoys maths, which is probably further evidence of intelligence and villainous ways: has a Bond villain ever knitted hats and volunteered for a food bank? Probably not. Have they spoken Russian for fun and whacked out a few equations? Likely.
Dominic Cummings is our anti-hero. His motivations are to have power, attention and create chaos. He is somehow the man behind the scenes, but is desperate to be seen. To expand this analogy in a forced and tiring way, he is the stagehand who will let the background fall, simply so he can be seen. And, if it makes the leading man (Boris) look like a prick in the process, even better.
The first time I was aware of Dominic Cummings was when ‘Brexit: An Uncivil War’ was being advertised. Dom was finally the star of the show, the lead, played by actual Hollywood star and BAFTA winner Benedict Cumberbatch CBE. Now, I’ve not actually watched the film, but I just feel like regardless of how he was portrayed, there must be something that breaks a man when the hair and makeup perfectly recreate your receding hairline on Benedict Cumberbatch. That, I think, is the origin of Cumming’s chaotic nihilism. What’s the point of anything when you can engineer an entire election, but only be remembered for your sad, sad hairline?
Of course, Dom came back into the public eye in 2020. The attention wasn’t directed at what actions he did or didn’t take to combat a deadly virus, but rather his trip to Barnard Castle. It was a scandal- of course it was- people were shamed for driving away from home to get a little bit of exercise, and he drove 30 miles away from his family home in Durham.
It was a demonstration of ‘one rule for us, one rule for them’ (oh, how little we knew). And perhaps, in years gone by, when things were more normal, and the United Kingdom was, for its flaws, a more normal country, Cummings would have apologised and maybe resigned. But instead he held a press conference in the garden of Number 10.
This, I think, is the key to understanding Cummings. He craves attention. He misbehaves because he wants to get caught, like a serial killer leaving notes. Like a lot of posh boys, and yes, this is speculative, I think what he wants is a telling off from Nanny. Instead, he got a half-arsed question off his mate Laura Kuensberg. He wanted to outsmart people with an audacious lie- the eye test- just so he could have the satisfaction of knowing that he’d pulled the wool. And of course, he revelled in that delicious, delicious attention.
Dominic was fired by Boris in November 2021. We know this because his picture was taken holding a brown box- the classic symbol of ‘I’ve just lost my job’. He called the paps- of course he did- because the man has a ridiculous need for attention.
For a typical political advisor, this would be the end. They’d quietly sink off into a high-paying consultancy role, spend their weekends in their country house, and be remembered by history in a 3-line Wikipedia page about them, which would inevitably get his date of birth wrong and go unchanged, with nobody ever noticing.
But this is not Cumming’s fate. He is too clever, too cunning, to ever be left to do something dull. I don’t even think he can even have a glass of wine and relax: instead he goes on to his £10-a-month newsletter to ramble (I assume) about the state of politics that makes grandiose references to Greek myth and Dostoyevsky (again, I assume). He is like a child who you have to constantly entertain, or else there will be hell to pay.
So Dominic turned against his far stupider, former-puppet Boris. To use a Mean Girls comparison (and if you don’t understand it, you need greater depth in your cultural repertoire) Dominic is Regina George- the Queen Bee- and Boris is his protegee and main character. He created Boris, the face of the leave campaign, and seeing his loyalty got him nowhere, he is now out to destroy him. The burn book is out, and Dominic is ready to incriminate Boris.
So what can we expect to see from Dominic, as he enters his new era of destroying the Tory party through Sue Gray, his newsletter, and shaking what is left of his very thin hair to reveal all the secrets (again, another Mean Girls reference for the ignorant among us)? We can expect the closest thing to truth that Dominic can do- an account of things that happened, made to make Boris look awful. It’ll be spicy, something to entertain us all one dull, cold afternoon.
But we won’t see? Whatever atomic bombs that Dominic holds resulting in some Tory party accountability. Everything might get destroyed, but the cockroach that is Boris Johnson will remain.