Gavin Longmuir has taken the trouble to write a lengthy comment on my last post about Dom Cummings, so I thought I’d bring the discussion into a new post to give it some more visibility:
It is very easy for enthusiasts to over-estimate how strongly others feel about certain things.
Personally I’m not an enthusiast about any current politician or party, including Cummings.
Die-hard Labour activists elected hard-line Corbyn as their leader, and were astonished to find that he was repugnant to a large group of customary Labour voters.
But then die-hard Tory activists got Maggie Thatcher elected, despite all the experts saying she was poison, and she turned out to be terrifically popular.
Brexiteers thought they were in the mainstream, but only a paltry 6 Million UK citizens could bother to get off the couch and vote for the Brexit Party in the European election.
6 million votes in the European elections is astonishing. General elections are generally won with 13 million. For a brand new party to get 6 million in the Euros, with their small turnout, was incredible. How long did Theresa May last after those results?
Many Tories personally thought that Brexit was a bad idea. But for the most part they swallowed those concerns and voted for the Tory tribe anyway in the recent General Election.
Not that many Tories were against Brexit once the referendum happened, and especially once it became clear what arseholes the EU are.
It is difficult to see that any significant number of Tories would abandon the Conservative Party over Cummings.
They wouldn’t abandon the party for Cummings exactly. It’s more that they are fed up with the Conservatives, and would love a serious alternative if they go wet again. It would only take a UKIP level of defections to scupper the Tories at the next election.
An advisor should never let himself become the focus of attention — he is there to make his principal look good by providing soto voce advice.
Well, that’s the received wisdom. Is it true? Depends on what you want. If you are dedicated to your party, and want a long-term career with them, then probably yes. But what if you don’t care that much about the party, and want to make a name for yourself? Cummings reputedly isn’t even a member of the Conservative party. He’s repeatedly given the impression he doesn’t want to hang around in this job for that long. So why would he want to hide himself away?
And what is Cummings main claim to fame? That he helped the Tories get 44% of the vote in the General Election by promising to throw more money at the socialist NHS.
So he knows how to win elections.
Money, not reform! With Conservatives like that, who needs Labour?
I agree, but at the moment denying the NHS more money would be electoral suicide.
From his other utterances, Cummings believes that a handful of really really super-smart unelected guys like him should run the country, and make all the decisions for the Great Unwashed in the Shires. That is Stalinism, not Conservatism.
It is not really that clear what Cummings’s real beliefs are. Is he yet another technocrat who wants better technocrats running everything? Or does he want to just improve the experts the civil service currently relies on, but still give back power to the people where he can? How green is he? The last thing the disgruntled Conservative voters want is more environmentalism.
The fact is, we don’t really know that much about what Cummings believes, and how much of the Conservative’s policies so far have been down to him. My suspicion is that his real beliefs won’t be that congenial to the disgruntled right, and disgruntled old Labour voters. (And, of course, these voters don’t have a monolithic set of beliefs, which makes it harder still.)
The fact that a minority of engaged Tory voters have seized on Cummings as their great white hope is mainly evidence of the severe lack of talent and ability in the current Conservative Party leadership pool.
That hardly needed saying. But the point is that there is this hunger for an alternative. And it’s not just the lack of talent, it’s the lack of people with ideas that chime with the ‘disgrunts’ (Priti Patel being an exception), and the lack of people with any backbone in the party. (Cummings clearly has backbone, which is one big reason why he’s popular.)