Dominic Cummings is a destroyer. More politely, a deconstructionist. He takes things he disapproves of and he dismantles them. Britain in Europe, the civil service, the Education system. His path through the civic institutions of Britain can be tracked by the mangled wreckage he leaves behind. And he does so by harvesting the very worst of us. He sows the seeds of division, turns people against each other, divides and conquers. And, oh boy, it’s successful.
Once you recognise this – and you apply it to No.10’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic – everything starts to fall into place. Suddenly, No.10 was run by a deconstructionist at a time it needed to build. It needed to build testing capacity, it needed to build up PPE supply, it needed to build a ring around vulnerable care homes, it needed to build test and trace infrastructure, it needed to build a coherent public health message and it needed to build trust with the country. It failed, not because these tasks were hard, but because No.10 was in the grip of a team who only knew how to tear things down.
The building of a post-Brexit Britain is equally chaotic. Negotiations with the EU are at deadlock, with the cliff edge of a no-deal Brexit appearing on the horizon, and a potential trade deal with the US has been thrown into uncertainty after a President willing to allow the UK to break international law was replaced by one who was not. What great company ‘Global Britain’ keeps.
It is against this backdrop of burning wreckage that Dominic Cummings confirms he plans to walk off into the sunset. Thanks for everything, Dom. Cheerio. There will be plenty of time to write his political obituary in the next few weeks, but for now, know this: he announced this departure back in January. In a blog earlier this year, he wrote that he planned to reshape the workings of Downing Street so as to make himself redundant by the start of 2021. His detractors are rejoicing as if they’ve earned a great scalp without realising that we are, as ever, doing it his way.
We won’t bother with that this weekend. Instead, we’ll use it as a chance to take a step back and try to understand what life is like behind that famous black door. The intense pressure, the back-stabbing, the in-fighting, the expectation, the fraught schedule and heavy responsibility.
We’ll speak to a former insider and get their take on No.10’s latest HR nightmare.
In January, Dominic Cummings will be joined on the road out of politics by Donald Trump. The Trump campaign’s efforts to mount legal challenges have struck an increasingly desperate tone this week and President-Elect Joe Biden has wasted no time building his team – with not a single member of his family taking a place on his Coronavirus task force. Not even an in-law. Trump has set many new precedents, some of which will last, but nepotism is one Biden refuses to carry with him.
The comparisons between Trump’s White House and Johnson’s Downing Street are frequently made. Destroyers – hell bent on tearing down legislation, convention and regulation, without really knowing what they want to build in its place. It’s little wonder the UK and the US are bedfellows on the list of the worst Coronavirus handlers – by almost all metrics. But as Johnson considers life after Cummings, the Republican Party are considering life after Trump.
There has always been a distain amongst the party’s moderates – and notable grandees like George W. Bush, Mitt Romney and the late John McCain – for Trump’s GOP revolution. Those who have dared to speak out against him have been vilified and ostracised by Trump’s cult-like base. He’s used every coercive technique in the book – often feeling more like domestic abuse than a professional relationship – to demand loyalty and tighten his grip on the party. And now – the music is about to stop. There will be weeks of kicking and screaming ahead of us, but eventually Donald Trump will disappear into the sunset too, even if he’s dragged there by the Secret Service.
Save for some rumours of an unlikely second run in 2024, the GOP is starting to contemplate life after Trump. Rebuilding in the wake of another great destroyer. The biggest question is this: what is Trumpism without Trump? With Trumpism defined more by personality than policy, can it survive without it’s ringmaster? And if so, who leads next?
We’ll ask two Republican Party insiders that question.
They are taking on a rebuilding project, and so too is Patrick Hutchinson – the Black Lives Matter protester who caught the nation’s attention this summer when he was photographed carrying a far-right counter demonstrator to safety after being hit on the head by a bottle. It was a rare symbol of unity and compassion in a scene of fraught disagreement and violence. It captured something – a glimmer of hope – a flicker of humanity.
Patrick has written a book – Everybody Versus Racism – a letter to his children about race, inequality and the role he played in such a defining moment.
Patrick is calling for deconstruction too, in a sense. A deconstruction of a system and society ravaged by systemic racism. But Patrick is also hoping to build. He wants to build a country in which his children can not only survive, but thrive. On equal terms, regardless of the colour of their skin. He wants to build relationships. He recognises that progress comes not through burning things down and walking away from the wreckage, assuming your job is done, but by reconstructing something better in its place. Creating the future you want for yourself and your children.
He is an incredible man – and he will talk us through his remarkable story and his vision for what comes next this weekend.
See you in the morning.
Weekend Early Breakfast with Darryl Morris – Sat/Sun 5am-7am – on talkRADIONovember 14, 2020 | No Comments