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Who is Dominic Cummings?

PETER FROST uncovers a few facts about the man who it seems has a different coronavirus rule book from the rest of us

JUST WHO is Dominic Cummings, who, if everyone except the Prime Minister’s press office is to be believed, drove himself his wife and child to a house in Durham next door to where his parents live and self-isolated themselves and the child in that house?

We do know he refused the offers of help looking after his child from his wife’s sister who lives nearby in London and presumably couldn’t find any help from the various organisations that he advised the Cabinet to recommend to the plebs.

It seems he did the 500-mile-plus round trip at least twice — some suggest three times — all with the comfort stops that any four-year-old would demand on a four-hour, 270-mile journey. 

On at least one occasion he and his family were spotted, far from self-isolating, out enjoying a stroll among the bluebells at beauty spot Barnard Castle 30 miles from the house in Durham where he was claiming to be locked in. 

So who is this Dominic Cummings who despite the fact that he isn’t a member of the Tory Party, has become Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s gauleiter of all Britain and can defy the Tory Cabinet’s rules and advice on preventing coronavirus spreading yet have those very same Tory ministers leaping to his defence?

An old and famous Daily Worker journalist, Claude Cockburn, advised “never believe anything till it is officially denied.” 

Cummings denials mouthed through the 10 Downing Street press office have been numerous.

Let’s start when the rest of the media and indeed the world heard Cummings’s initial advice on the coronavirus. 

He outlined the government’s strategy at the time as “herd immunity, protect the economy, and if that means some pensioners die, too bad.”  

Downing Street was quick with the denial: “This is a highly defamatory fabrication.”

So who is Cummings? The 48-year-old father of one has his main residence in north London with his wife, Mary Wakefield, the commissioning editor at the right-wing magazine the Spectator. 

Johnson was editor of the Spectator from 1999 until 2005 and gave Wakefield her job at the magazine. 

How and why did Cummings get the gauleiter job, subtly retitled chief adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in July 2019?  

Cummings’s first job seems to have been working as bouncer at a Durham nightclub called Klute owned by his uncle. Now Cummings himself owns the closed nightspot.

After university, Cummings worked in Russia from 1994 to 1997, on various projects including an unsuccessful attempt to establish an airline. 

From 1999 to 2002, Cummings was director for the campaign against Britain joining the euro monetary union.   

Next he became director of strategy for Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith. He soon left, accusing Duncan Smith of being incompetent. 

He then established the New Frontiers Foundation think tank as its director. 

In 2004 he moved back to his father’s farm in Co Durham, helping to organise the claiming of a quarter of a million pounds in EU farm subsidies — subsidies of which he supposedly strongly disapproved. 

From 2007 to 2014 he was a special adviser to Michael Gove and friends with Gove’s wife, Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine. For some of this time Gove was education secretary.

Prime minister Cameron’s criminal head of communications Andy Coulson blocked his appointment as Gove’s chief of staff. 

When Coulson was sacked and sent to prison, Cummings got the job. Cameron described Cummings as a “career psychopath.” 

Cummings wrote a paper for Gove about transforming Britain into a meritocratic technopolis. It was typical of the kind of posh-sounding, dotted with Latin bollocks that he and Johnson both spout. 

Cummings is a bully. At Education he battled against an informal alliance of senior civil servants and teachers who Cummings thought opposed his reforms. He and Gove called them the Blob.

Cummings loved insulting those who he thought opposed him. He described Nick Clegg as “dreaming up policies on the back of a cigarette packet.” David Davis was as “thick as mince” and “lazy as a toad.”

During his time as an official working for Gove, Cummings received a warning from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for using private Gmail accounts to deal with government business. 

Cummings became campaign director of Vote Leave in October 2015. His simple strategy was: “Do talk about immigration”; “Do talk about business”; “Don’t make the referendum final”; “Do keep mentioning the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the over-reach of the European courts.” He designed the “£350 million a week to fund the NHS” bus.

Internal infighting saw Cummings leave Vote Leave in February 2016. 

Until September 2018 he acted as a consultant for Babylon Health, a private online rival to NHS GPs. 

They offer quick phone and face-to-face consultations with a GP at a price. Tory cuts in the number of NHS GPs have made Babylon Health very profitable.

In April last year Cummings was found guilty of contempt of Parliament by the House of Commons select committee of privileges. 

He had failed to appear before the digital, culture, media and sport committee inquiry into claims of false news during the referendum campaign. 

Less than three months later, on July 24 2019, the man who held Parliament in such contempt, Cummings, was appointed as a senior adviser to Prime Minister Johnson. 

Why would he appoint a man who in 2017 had said “Tory MPs largely do not care about these poorer people.” And “They don’t care about the NHS.”

Cummings played a major role in the campaign of lies and deceit that won the Tories victory in the general election. 

He rapidly started to change the network of advisers and civil servants to one that suited his and Johnson’s purpose.   

Cummings advertised for “weirdos and misfits with odd skills” to work for him advising Johnson.

One of the jobs went to racist Andrew Sabisky, whose reactionary views supported eugenics and enforced contraception. 

He suggested black people had IQs that were close to mild mental retardation and that mental-performance-enhancing drugs were probably worth a dead kid once a year.  

Sabisky didn’t come from nowhere. He and his extreme views were well known to Cummings and Johnson. 

He had written racist articles and book reviews for Johnson when Johnson was editor of the Spectator. 

Cummings famously decided that only Tory-sympathetic TV channels and newspapers — certainly not the Morning Star — would be invited to No 10 media briefings. 

He did it by making journalists stand on two different carpets, one for Tories one for the rest. 

The entire press pack told him what he could do with his crude attempt at censorship. 

Tory rags and others continued to print leaks and private briefings.

Cummings is a huge bully. In 2012, a senior female civil servant received a payout of £25,000 in a bullying case she took against Cummings and a senior member of Gove’s team when Cummings was a special adviser at the Department for Education.

On August 31 2019, Cummings fired one of chancellor Sajid Javid’s aides, Sonia Khan, without the chancellor’s permission and without informing him. 

He summoned her to No 10, snatched her two phones, one used for private calls and one for work. Seeing she had talked to an ex-aide of Philip Hammond the previous week he sacked her on the spot, calling armed police from outside to escort the sacked and distressed aide off the premises. 

This, it seems, was just the first action in his and Johnson’s plan replace all the Cabinet minister’s political advisers with Cumming’s appointed people. 

Most Cabinet ministers too owe their jobs to Cummings, so no wonder they are so quick to leap to his defence. 

Cummings has never got on with Johnson’s fiancee Carrie Symonds. It is easy to forget that Symonds herself was an important Tory Party strategist — and apparently far more popular than Cummings in the role.

Symonds is credited with several of Johnson’s policy announcements, especially on green and countryside issues. 

These slightly liberal policies brought her into conflict with Cummings. Wits have suggested that Cummings should have sacked Symonds and had Johnson’s baby himself.

Cummings and Johnson are “ripping the heart out of democracy” — not just my view but also old Tory faithful Michael Heseltine. 

Funny that, ripping the heart out of democracy is exactly what gauleiters working for wannabe dictators always do. 

Hypocrisy doesn’t come as a surprise from Tory prime ministers or Tory ministers or their advisers, but in some cases, like that of Cummings and Johnson over the last few days that hypocrisy reaches unbelievable levels. 

These two are spivs with no ethics whatsoever. Will Johnson ever sack Cummings? It would be like Emu sacking Rod Hull.

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