Dominic Cummings helped to get this ‘clueless gaffe machine’ elected – but don’t try and blame him for that

·4 min read
Yet again, the magician’s curtain is pulled back, and the little people get to see inside the circus of horrors that is still running the country (Getty)
Yet again, the magician’s curtain is pulled back, and the little people get to see inside the circus of horrors that is still running the country (Getty)

A shock result in the Chesham and Amersham by-election is enough to draw the dreaded Islington Threadmonster back to his keyboard.

A number of political journalists had had the temerity to predict that, what with the Tories having won the seat 18 months ago by 16,000 votes, the same result was likely this time. One had said he would even eat his hat if the Tories did not win. A hat has now been eaten.

“Stop reading these pundit babblers,” reads tweet one on the latest thread from north London-based former macro and now micro blogger Dominic Cummings. “They don’t understand political communication.”

Not that long ago, Dominic Cummings used to reserve most of his loathing for what he described as “Oxbridge egomaniacs with humanities degrees”, which I have, on occasion, been known to point out is precisely what Mr Cummings is.

I can’t and therefore won’t pretend to know very much about the psychological trait known as “projection”, so all I can do is point out that Cummings’s new number one hatred, of political pundits, appears to have occurred at the exact same period in his life at which he sits about at home doing tweets about politics and is also setting up his own political newsletter via Substack.

Don’t forget, at this point, that Dominic Cummings is not a mere pundit. He is a (self-taught) scientist. This is demonstrated in his next point, which is about how in 2019, all the “drone-pundits” got it wrong by saying what a mistake it was for Boris Johnson not to do that interview with Andrew Neil.

He proves how wrong they all are, by sifting through the truly comprehensive range of opinion that can still be found online about all that, from the time, and then cuts and pastes together the ones that support his argument – as all good scientists do, and no crap pundit setting up his own Substack would ever dare attempt.

But we’re not done there. Next, Cummings delivers what he must imagine to have been his coup de grace. Yet again, the magician’s curtain is pulled back, and the little people get to see inside the circus of horrors that is still running the country.

Back in 2019, we now learn, Boris Johnson’s most senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, was advising the prime minister not to do that interview with Andrew Neil. Which he then didn’t do. Mr Cummings sums up his advice at the time thus: “why the fu*k wd we put a gaffe machine clueless about policy & government up to be grilled for ages, upside=0 for what?”

If you happen to be related to one of the 130,000 or so people who’ve died of Covid-19 in the last year, you might want to have looked away by now. Because this really is Boris Johnson’s most senior adviser, breezily admitting that, back in 2019, he was mainly strategising how to go about making sure a “clueless gaffe machine” could win a general election and be returned to 10 Downing Street.

We all know what happened, and the next major plot point in the story involves Cummings himself explaining to a select committee that, at the hands of his very own clueless gaffe machine, tens of thousands of people died needlessly.

As a mere pundit myself, a drone babbler, it is naturally impossible to supplant myself into the mind of a power so superior. What can possibly be gained by my even posing the question: “If I’d admitted tens of thousands of people had died needlessly on my watch, would I have the temerity to be sitting around on social media slagging people off for their bad tweets?”

Versions of this question were, as it happens, put to Mr Cummings, who explained that really he’d had no choice but to get Boris Johnson elected. The alternative was prime minister Corbyn and a second referendum in which he feared people would be killed. He’s probably right.

Maybe people would have been killed. It was a febrile time, the system still very much choking with all the poison that had been poured into it – by Dominic Cummings.

Thing is, there was this pundit around back then, making all these wild predictions on social media, about how Turkey was going to join the EU, and how there’d be £350m a week for the NHS, and a lot of people got very angry about them.

One forgets his name, but as a result, Dominic Cummings had precious little choice but do what he did. Otherwise, you know, people might have been killed. Tens of thousands of them, we must assume, entirely needlessly.

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