Dominic Cummings’ brutal account ripped through the top of Downing Street, leaving few survivors. But what are his motivations? Is he an honest whistleblower or is this a desperate attempt to save his mediocre career?

Cummings clears his conscience 

Cummings was torn apart by the public after his infamous trip to Barnard Castle. Though he denied any wrongdoing, the event spurred the birth of endless internet memes and a huge loss of credibility. Months later, he dramatically left Downing Street cradling a box of his belongings.

Clearly, not being at the centre of a media storm disagrees with Mr Cummings, so he came out with a slew of criticisms against the government he only recently worked for. Since last year’s events, his name no longer brings Brexit to mind but rather a man who has become a laughing stock and an object of derision. But, after a few months of self-reflection, it appears Cummings has decided to rewrite the narrative — throwing the people who defended him under the bus in the process. 

Among his boldest claims is the conviction that Boris Johnson is not fit to be Prime Minister (arguably, something that seemed obvious from his days as London’s Mayor). So we have Johnson’s most trusted advisor siding with his harshest critics. Cummings verified the PM’s ‘let the bodies pile high’ comment, and suggested that Hancock’s behaviour was ‘criminal’. One of his more shocking revelations was the claim that by April 15, the date all patients leaving hospital had to be tested for Covid-19, 25,000 patients had been discharged to care homes without a test. Such neglect is both unacceptable and unforgivable in a government, but it also doesn’t make Cummings the hero of the day. There is something to be gained from these revelations, and we mustn’t forget that Cummings is a master tactician.

Special advisor gone rogue

Dominic Cummings is a Machiavellian strategist who, by his own admission, was never clever enough to hold the position that he did. The self-deprecation weaved into his testimony certainly helps bolster his claims, preventing it from appearing as though he is passing his share of the blame on to others. But this humble facade fails to mask his desperate attempt to prove his worth. For all his effort to persuade us otherwise, arguably the real purpose of the exposé was to instil the idea that Cummings would have done a better job. Why else would he mention attempting to push things through against the PM’s wishes in order to prevent what he saw as bad decision-making? This is a narrative where the special advisor has to micromanage an unfit man; essentially, doing his job for him while fighting against the odds to protect the country. This way, Cummings becomes the brave penitent, apologising on behalf of an idiotic and incompetent government.

The damning portrayal nicely reflects Cummings’ self-serving personality. Perpetually seen with his sleeves rolled up and top button undone, the image cultivated is one of a man distinct from politicians. In fact, Cummings has never been a member of any political party and makes this known. His loyalties lie with himself, which is why he has no qualms about defaming ‘his’ own party. One of his old professors noted how he ‘was determined to bring down things that don’t work’. In a blog post from January 2020, Cummings advertised for roles supporting the PM, including ‘weirdos and misfits with odd skills’ as one of the categories. Before the pandemic even started, it’s apparent that he was trying to manipulate the PM’s decisions by hiring those who fit his own vision. 

What’s next for Dominic Cummings?

As David Cameron put it, Cummings is a career psychopath. He is desperate to be seen as successful and terrified of blending into the mass of Oxbridge graduates. This latest episode, in an attempt to keep himself relevant, has raised some valid questions. An inquiry into the handling of Covid-19 is inevitable, and when this happens Cummings is likely to fade into the background — but not his lust for power. His ego outweighs his competence, though in the world of politics this is standard. Whatever Dominic Cummings will do next one thing is certain, this is not the last we hear from him.

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