Dominic Cummings has risen to notoriety in the last few days, after declaring himself above his own legislation. While I could talk at length about the hypocrisy of the government guidelines and the ease with which he would have been able to find help in London and the fact that his touristy eye test definitely broke the rules, plenty have already done so and more will do so after me. What this scandal highlights is the complete erosion of accountability in Government.
Cummings built his reputation on Whitehall as a psychopath for hire. His rise would at times be stopped by people he had crossed but never for long. He eventually rose to be chief of staff at Michael Gove’s Department for Education, where he worked as his political master’s attack dog: doing the dirty work that the squeaky clean Gove would both benefit from and seek to avoid.
He also would outline his ideal world in a 237-page essay where the Oxford History graduate took issue with a lack of statistical and probability training of the typical Oxbridge humanities graduates who make decisions in Whitehall.
Despite his fiery reputation, he would be named as campaign director for Vote Leave, where his disregard for accountability would become most clear. The organisation existed only for the campaign so there was no way to punish any finance violations. The Electoral Commission later found that there was illegal overspend in the campaign.
Cummings, hailed as the mastermind behind Brexit, reentered politics at the top in July 2019, being appointed as Senior Advisor the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and then, from the most powerful seat on Whitehall, set about to eliminate the civil service as we knew it, looking for applications from “Assorted Weirdos” to his personal email.
In the past ten months, he has forced out a Chancellor of the Exchequer and dominated the Executive branch of government to the point where Secretaries of State see themselves as less valuable to the Prime Minister as Cummings. And while ministers can be forced out due to public pressure, it seems that Cummings is invulnerable to all.
Cummings is a ruthless pragmatist, seeking to push his own interest with every action he takes. He did not think of the lockdown when he relocated to the North. He did not think of the rules he was breaking when his family wanted to go for a drive. He thought only of himself.
He has the political world under his thumb and while his ideology is vague, it was not what was in the Conservative manifesto. He is grabbing power and it has become clear this week that he cannot be removed. He is invulnerable to accountability.
Good luck to us all.