Some encouraging news: Boris Johnson has appointed Dominic Cummings as one of his senior advisors.
Cummings is a Marmite figure — loved and loathed in equal measure. But the two key things you need to know about him are these:
- He was the mastermind of the Vote Leave campaign and was — arguably — the main reason why Brexiteers and not Remainers won the EU referendum.
- He is a sworn enemy of the Swamp.
As I wrote yesterday, one of the most important challenges facing Boris is the need to take on Britain’s Deep State: the Civil Service and the various quangos — all of which are not only sclerotically inefficient but outrageously left-biased.
I rated Boris’s chances of achieving this at 4/10. But with Cummings’s appointment, the odds have improved quite dramatically.
You can tell the Swamp is getting nervous because already its slimy denizens are briefing against Cummings and vaingloriously boasting about how totally he doesn’t frighten them.
Senior civil service source on Dominic Cummings: “we’ll run rings around him”. History teaches that civil service reform is easier said than done.
— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) July 24, 2019
Hmm. Let’s see if they still feel that cocky when Cummings starts wielding his axe.
Britain’s Deep State problem is something to which Cummings has given considerable thought. Five years ago, he outlined his thinking on the subject in a speech to the left-wing think tank the IPPR.
Among the reasons why the Civil Service is so perfectly useless, he argued, is that it rewards failure (almost no one is ever sacked — they’re just shuffled to a different department); it promotes people who want to protect the system and not rock the boat, while weeding out the dissenters and mavericks who might contribute original ideas; it is process-driven, not goal-driven; it’s massively bloated and largely overpaid.
A mass refocussing of goals, not dissimilar to the time when Steve Jobs came back to Apple and ruthlessly pared down the product range.
Reduce the size of every government department by half.
The abolition of the ‘permanent civil service’ – which would mean no more too-powerful-for-their-own-good figures like the late Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood (who effectively ran David Cameron) nor indeed like Mark Sedwill, the similarly overweening anti-Brexit Cabinet Secretary who ran Theresa May.
I’m sure American readers will be cheering on Cummings as much as many British readers will. After all — as we’re being reminded right now by the Mueller hearings — the U.S. has exactly the same Swamp problem we have over here.
And the arrogance of these people! Isn’t it just extraordinary that instead of knuckling under and working with the new Boris Johnson administration, as they’re supposed to — this is the Civil Service’s main job after all: smoothly and efficiently to enact government policy — here they are already boasting about how they’re going to undermine it by “running rings” around Boris’s reformist special advisor.
Still, one of the great things about Cummings is that he is a ruthless operator. I’m sure we can rely on him to show these Swamp creatures the zero mercy they deserve.