Flop of the Month: Dominic Cummings

Dominic Cummings: the strategist who was the most successful in the 2016 campaign to leave the European Union; the person who tapped into a pulse of dissatisfaction with ‘metropolitan elites’ to help win the 2019 general election; and, of course, Boris Johnson’s chief adviser – the man the Prime Minister apparently could not afford to lose.

Cummings has helped dismantle the reputation of the Government, even among its supporters (Pic: Getty)
Cummings has helped dismantle the reputation of the Government, even among its supporters (Pic: Getty)

And yet, over six short days in May, Cummings – who won so much for his political master – cost the Government its moral authority on public health messaging, sowed the seeds of a significant Tory backbench rebellion calling for his head, and cast Johnson’s net approval rating down into negative numbers, according to one survey.

Forget the minutiae of the journey to Durham, the day trip to Barnard Castle and the tortured contortions of Cummings, Johnson and senior cabinet ministers trying to justify all of it.

How could this comms guru, with his finger on the pulse of the ordinary voter, not accept that he was the main problem afflicting the reputation of the Government he purports to serve?

It’s a common misattribution to former Labour comms chief Alastair Campbell that, if you are on the front page in a negative story for three consecutive days, you’re toast.

This story carried on for nearly a week, with a significant new development reported each day until last Thursday, when Durham Police confirmed what the public had already surmised – that Cummings did breach the rules he'd helped to devise.

Johnson, meanwhile, already under pressure over the Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis so far, has lost even more from the Cummings scandal.

The first job of any government is to protect the safety of the people. It’s the social contract on which the very notion of nationhood is based.

In choosing to keep Cummings, Johnson has made his priorities clear – and neither his party nor the public will forget it.

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