Dominic Cummings isn't the most likable of men. People were furious when Boris Johnson decided to unanimously back his chief advisor; they felt that his position was clearly untenable. Of course, Johnson didn't necessarily support his special advisor because he felt he was in the right. It was never a case of whether he thought Cummings was in the right or in the wrong. The fact is that Cummings is a clever man.
Pulling the strings
In 2017, he delivered a speech that broke down exactly why the Leave campaign toppled Remain in the 2016 Referendum on the European Union. It was no fluke. This was a man who was aware of absolutely everything. He knew about public opinion all over the country. He also knew how to exploit that opinion and, consequently, how to win campaigns. Cummings had previously lead the successful battle for Britain to keep the pound.
The problem with Remain was, as stated by the man himself, down to how out of touch David Cameron was with the general public. Opinion in Westminster and London were very different from opinions across the rest of the United Kingdom. Cummings is a man who is in touch with the public.
He worked hard on the ground to assimilate as much relevant data as possible in order to gain an advantage on the former Prime Minister. With that information, he could create slogans and messages that resonated with enough of the population to win the Referendum. This is a man who works hard but he is also efficient with that work; he understands what he is doing and how he is going to achieve it.
The campaigning for Brexit is largely slammed for its misleading promotions but it is using the power of words. Misleading isn't necessarily outright lying. 100% of people think that this article is good. One person has read the article. Two pieces of information that can create a very different narrative.
In some capacity, Britain did give around £350-million to the EU every week. It wasn't literal but it was the average of some algorithms. That point doesn't state how Britain have benefited financially from the EU but it isn't necessarily false. The infamous bus goes onto state "Let's fund our NHS instead." These are two separate points.
Misleadingly, the assumption is that £350-million will be pumped into the National Health Service on a weekly basis. It doesn't say this. It says that an alternative government, a concept Cummings talked up at the time, would focus expenditure on the health service. It doesn't say that all of that money will be spent on the NHS, not does it declare that the Government will do that. It says that Vote Leave would look to reinvigorate the NHS. Yes, this is sneaky and manipulative, planting seeds into the minds of the electorate, but it works. Why seek an inconvenient truth in a world of populism?
Johnson won the recent campaign by a landslide. He repeated the slogan "Get Brexit Done" almost three million times during the build up to the General Election and those three simple words resonated with the public. However hollow the message was, it hit home. Cummings believes in simplicity with campaigns. He cited that references to the single market in the build up to the Referendum were a waste of time because the concept was too complicated for many of the electorate.
The Prime Minister was educated in Eton and has lived a pretty care-free and reckless life. Cameron also went to Eton and, in many ways, the two share that elitist bubble. Johnson cannot comprehend the lives of the working-class. When he was the Mayor of London, he couldn't tell you how much a standard pint of milk would cost. This isn't a man who is as relatable as some would think. He needs assistance.
Johnson is going for short-term abuse over long-term catastrophe. These are unprecedented times and there are fresh news stories that are appearing every day. His backing has taken a pounding but he'll be hoping that people have short memories. Spoiler, they do!
If he wraps up a Brexit deal by the end of the year then his supporters will be delighted and the Government's shortcomings during this turbulent time will be quickly forgotten by many. That deal and the presentation of that deal will no doubt owe a lot to Cummings.
The Prime Minister should have sent Cummings packing but he can't. The advisor, like Lady Macbeth to her husband, is pulling all of the strings. If the leader of the country is basically bent over a barrel then is he really a leader? It's tough because good leaders need people in the background to prop them up but surely the Prime Minister should have the confidence to dismiss them if they clearly put themselves into disrepute. I'll leave that one for Conservative voters to ponder.