In history there have always been those behind the scenes, tugging at the levers of power. Wives, mistresses, meddlesome priests; some unknown, some who have achieved notoriety, some written into the history books and others whose flame briefly flared then sputtered and died to become a mere footnote. What fate, I wonder, awaits Dominic Cummings?
Rasputin-like he appeared to instil fear and awe in his enemies and was never shy in naming them. Many cheered when he made public his mission to take on the establishment. Many felt that he had too much of a hold on Boris Johnson’s thinking, but the odd combination of the product of Eton and privilege alongside a bright student from relatively humble beginnings seemed to strike a chord.
The electorate gave this unlikely combo a mandate not seen in many years and watched as they set out to work. Cummings once described by a tutor as "fizzing with ideas, unconvinced by any received set of views… determined to bring down things that don’t work." Sought to recruit others to his factory of chaos, from which would emerge a new order, with Boris at the helm of a dreadnought of state.
It didn’t quite pan out. And even as Keir Starmer accuses Johnson of blaming everybody but himself, Cummings has come out and placed the blame squarely at the Prime Minister’s feet. In a recent statement he has declared it his mission to remove the PM from office, likening the task to ‘fixing the drains’.
Whilst few would disagree with many of his unflattering appraisals, he is hardly executing his plot in the requisite Machiavellian manner. No iron fist in a velvet glove for him, but a massive, all-too obvious demolition ball which threatens to bring down not just the figurehead but the whole edifice. Never particularly likeable, or convivial, always a bit of a misanthrope, he now seems more like a Marvel super-villain, plotting the destruction of the world he has never really understood. The world of humans turned its back on him, but he will wreak his revenge, mwuhahahaa!
Post politics, Boris will continue to enjoy fame and notoriety and no doubt a wide circle of shallow but fun friends. It is doubtful anybody will want to consult his genius, but neither will he haunt the world stage like the wizened Phantom of the Opera, Tony Blair, forever seeking ever more influence. Boris will move on, pen a few well remunerated newspaper articles, write the odd book and grow disgracefully old.
Cummings, on the other hand will barely be remembered. No Robespierre, he, as that same tutor suggested. No power behind the throne, no architect of change. No doubt he will find himself leading an uninfluential think tank, poorly funded and far from any inner circle. If he is likened to any well-known character it will probably be Gollum. Crazed, enraged and forever looking for his precious, apparently unaware that the key to his reward was Boris himself.