Dominic Cummings

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pages: 502 words: 128,126

Rule Britannia: Brexit and the End of Empire by Danny Dorling, Sally Tomlinson

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, anti-globalists, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, British Empire, centre right, colonial rule, Corn Laws, correlation does not imply causation, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Etonian, falling living standards, Flynn Effect, housing crisis, illegal immigration, imperial preference, income inequality, inflation targeting, invisible hand, knowledge economy, market fundamentalism, mass immigration, megacity, New Urbanism, Nick Leeson, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, out of africa, Right to Buy, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, spinning jenny, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, University of East Anglia, We are the 99%, wealth creators

See: Wintour, P. (2013) ‘Dominic Cummings: genius or menace?’, The Guardian, 11 October, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/oct/11/dominic-cummings-genius-menace-michael-gove 54 Wilby, P. (2014) ‘Psychologist on a mission to give every child a Learning Chip’, The Guardian, 18 February, https://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/feb/18/psychologist-robert-plomin-says-genes-crucial-education 55 Wintour, P. (2013) ‘Genetics outweighs teaching, Gove adviser tells his boss’, The Guardian, 11 October, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/oct/11/genetics-teaching-gove-adviser 56 Elledge, J. (2018) ‘If only we could all be as clever as Dominic Cummings’, New Statesman, 24 May, https://www.newstatesman.com/2018/05/if-only-we-could-all-be-clever-dominic-cummings 57 Labour Party (2015) Rule Book, Section 1, Chapter 1, London: Labour Party. 58 As our friend Carl Lee pointed out to us when commenting on a much earlier draft of this chapter.

This small group overlaps closely with the group that led the Brexit campaign. If you want to find the modern-day equivalent of Karl Pearson, then look up the theories and background of one of the leading Brexit campaigners, Dominic Cummings.53 Dominic Cummings believes he is very intelligent, and that intelligence is distributed along a bell curve with a few people like him at the top end of it.54 He also maintains that an individual child’s performance is mainly based on genetics rather than the quality of teaching, while simultaneously damning the quality of teachers.55 Later on in this book, we will look more closely at the mysterious figure of Dominic Cummings. Dominic is often presented as a Professor Moriarty-like genius, or as one commenter put it, ‘a man in a constant state of awe at his own strategic brilliance’.56 The bell curve idea suggests some rationality in a process of originally labelling children as idiots and imbeciles at the lower end, and as gifted and highly able at the other end.

He has been called a ‘career psychopath’ by none other than David Cameron.75 He had a great influence on the vote to leave the EU, being credited with the slogan ‘Take Back Control’. In late spring 2018 he was professing that there would be revolution and SW1 (Westminster) would become a ‘smoking ruin’ if the Brexiteers of his ilk did not get their way.76 FIGURE 7.3: DOMINIC CUMMINGS IN ‘AWE AT HIS OWN STRATEGIC BRILLIANCE’ Quotation about Dominic Cummings’s brilliance courtesy of: Elledge, J. (2018) ‘If only we could all be as clever as Dominic Cummings’, New Statesman, 24 May.77 A second influential figure in the Vote Leave campaign – indeed, credited along with Cummings as being a major agent in their victory – is Matthew Elliott (Figure 7.4). Elliott was educated at the private Leeds Grammar School and then the London School of Economics, going on to work as a political secretary to MEP Timothy Kirkhope in 2001.


pages: 93 words: 30,572

How to Stop Brexit (And Make Britain Great Again) by Nick Clegg

Berlin Wall, Boris Johnson, collapse of Lehman Brothers, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, offshore financial centre, sceptred isle, Snapchat

Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and the other leading Leave campaigners regularly appeared in front of banners that repeated the claim. Even after the UK Statistics Authority pointed out that the figure ‘was misleading and undermines trust in official statistics’,21 the pledge remained plastered to the bus’s side. The Leave campaign knew that they had a potent promise on their hands, but just how crucial was the £350m claim to the final referendum result? Dominic Cummings, a one-time government adviser to Mr Gove who was later employed as the strategic mastermind of the official Leave campaign, has said, ‘Would we have won without £350m/NHS? All our research and the close result strongly suggests No.’22 More than a year on, the NHS is yet to see any of Cummings’ Brexit bounty, nor will it ever do so. The economy is suffering such uncertainty after the Brexit vote that Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, has already identified – conservatively – a new £59bn black hole in the public finances,23 money that could otherwise be spent on public services like the NHS.

Voters were sold a dodgy promise on a false basis. So they now have every right to withdraw their consent. A year on from the referendum, the politicians with the loudest voices during the Leave campaign – Gove, Johnson, Davis, et al. – are sitting comfortably around the Cabinet table, taking home six-figure ministerial salaries and getting away with their fibs to the British people. Even Dominic Cummings, who took such pride in his cynical pledge on the NHS, now describes the referendum as a ‘dumb idea’ and accepts there is a chance that ‘leaving will be an error’.29 Then there is the simple cost – to you and every family across the country – of Brexit. Far from being a sunny upland of milk and honey, Brexit Britain is turning out to be an increasingly expensive place. The economic storm clouds just keep on gathering; as it happens, the price of milk30 and honey31 are predicted to rise partly as a consequence of Britain’s decision to quit the EU.

If you intend to join an anti-Brexit demonstration, then spread the word online. It will make a difference. Even if you are a newspaper reader, always remember that for a significant – and growing – number of people, the Internet is the place to turn for news. More than 90 per cent of the UK’s social-media users have a Facebook account, with the BBC now the only news media organisation in the UK that reaches more people through online news.88 Little wonder that Dominic Cummings, the mastermind of the Vote Leave campaign, put 98 per cent of its money into digital adverts.89 The young people who overwhelmingly voted to keep Britain in the UK are, as ever, ahead of the curve. A survey last year showed that 28 per cent of 18–24-year-olds state that social media is their main news source, compared with 24 per cent for television. Third, work with a charity or voluntary organisation that you are already a member of.


pages: 317 words: 71,776

Inequality and the 1% by Danny Dorling

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, banking crisis, battle of ideas, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, Branko Milanovic, buy and hold, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, centre right, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, David Attenborough, David Graeber, delayed gratification, Dominic Cummings, double helix, Downton Abbey, en.wikipedia.org, Etonian, family office, financial deregulation, full employment, Gini coefficient, high net worth, housing crisis, income inequality, land value tax, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, lump of labour, mega-rich, Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay, Mont Pelerin Society, mortgage debt, negative equity, Neil Kinnock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, TaskRabbit, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trickle-down economics, unpaid internship, very high income, We are the 99%, wealth creators, working poor

Potential 40–45 per cent or more of US Fortune 500 CEOs, billionaires, federal judges and Senators attended elite universities whose median standardized test scores are above ∼99th percentile for the overall US population: i.e. ∼1 per cent of the population make up ∼50 per cent of the elite group running the country … However, even within this 1 per cent there are huge differences between the brains and character of a Zuckerberg and an average senator. Dominic Cummings, advisor to Michael Gove, 201329 If greed is presented as normal, then you are being taught to be greedy. If a few children at the top are continually given the implicit message that they deserve the most, they will come to expect the most. In Britain the children of those at the top attend private schools, and each has more than three times as much spent on their education than the rest (see Figure 2.2).

There are many people who believe that it is, or should be, the ‘fittest’ who get to the top.44 These people believe that we are largely ruled by our betters, and that that is good for us.45 They think that almost all of the 1 per cent are very clever – much cleverer than most people – and that within the 1 per cent there are some exceptional geniuses.46 However, many of the 1 per cent are, in fact, not part of an especially talented bunch, and even those who are talented may not be that special. A remarkable number of those who rule us believe they do so because they are special. That is less surprising when you realise that most went to schools and universities where they were repeatedly told they were all special – although most are at least clever enough to realise that the majority outside their circle might not take kindly to being told this. Dominic Cummings is not like most of those who have got into the top echelons.47 He has a tendency to say what he believes. He wrote the words used at the start of this section in a thesis made widely available when he was advisor to the secretary of state for education, Michael Gove.48 In that thesis he also suggested that 70 per cent of a child’s attainment is determined by his or her genes. Following the human genome project, it has been possible to conduct various whole-genome association studies to assess how much the entire genetic code might be affecting the chance of particular outcomes without having to know which parts of the code matter most.

If genetics do play a part in determining who is in the wealthiest 1 per cent, it will be in the fact that this small segment of society contains more people with genes inclining them to be acquisitive, to hoard, and to be less concerned about others. These are what psychologists call ‘individualistic traits’, rather than the norm of being more pro-social, with positive, helpful and friendly attitudes to other people, not grandiose or conceited. Steve Jones, emeritus professor of genetics at University College London, puts the case against the favoured few succinctly. In chastising Dominic Cummings, he noted: ‘For geneticists, the more we learn about DNA, the more important the environment appears. The lesson from the double helix is that we need more and better teachers, rather than wringing our hands about the unkindness of fate. A few lessons about elementary biology might be a good place to start.’58 We now worry about the extinction of rare species, and the loss of their genes, and see apparent genetic variation within our species as more and more important (see the illustration below).


pages: 323 words: 95,492

The Rise of the Outsiders: How Mainstream Politics Lost Its Way by Steve Richards

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, banking crisis, battle of ideas, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, call centre, centre right, collapse of Lehman Brothers, David Brooks, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, Etonian, eurozone crisis, falling living standards, full employment, housing crisis, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, Neil Kinnock, obamacare, Occupy movement, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley

The leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage, was euphoric, but he did not stay on to face the consequences. He took the easy route by announcing his resignation. Of the leading campaigners in the ‘Out’ campaign, only Boris Johnson plays a role, as Foreign Secretary, in what form Brexit will take. Even his role is limited. The rest do not have to face the consequences of their campaigning swagger. Early in 2017 one of the architects of the victory in the Brexit referendum, Dominic Cummings, formerly an adviser to Gove, wrote a wittily provocative account of why his side had won. Cummings insisted, as part of his compelling exposition, that contrary to mythology, Gove and Johnson were relaxed and delighted on the day after the referendum. Perhaps the close ally and behind-the-scenes witness is best placed to make the definitive judgement. But those of us that watched their victory press conference saw a suddenly more burdened duo, with their tentative assertions of what should follow and their lack of exuberance.

Seizing back control of what, and by whom? These are pivotal questions relating to where power lies and who exerts that power – questions that lie at the heart of the outsiders’ ascendancy and the crisis in mainstream parties. Donald Trump persistently asserted throughout his campaign that it was necessary for America to take back control. One of the leading strategists for the ‘Out’ campaign in the Brexit referendum, Dominic Cummings astutely recognized that this single phrase was a vote-winner. Who does not want to be more in control? Early in 2017 Cummings wrote a vivacious and historically rich account of how ‘Out’ had won the referendum during the previous summer.1 He did not argue that ‘deep forces were in play’ and that the result could easily have gone the other way. But he did note the power of the slogan and the way it connected so conveniently to many themes, from immigration to top executives’ spiralling pay, with no agency seemingly able, or willing, to exert control.

Bush: former US president Jeb Bush: Republican presidential candidate Jim Callaghan: former PM David Cameron: former PM Alastair Campbell: Tony Blair’s press secretary Gianroberto Casaleggio: co-founder of the Italian M5S party Mário Centeno: Portugal’s finance minister Jacques Chirac: former French president Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) Ken Clarke: former UK chancellor Nick Clegg: former deputy PM and Lib-Dem leader Bill Clinton: former US president Hillary Clinton: US presidential candidate Robin Cook: former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Corbyn: Labour leader António Costa: Portugal’s socialist leader and PM Jon Cruddas: Labour MP Ted Cruz: Republican presidential candidate Dominic Cummings: one of the architects of the victory in the Brexit referendum Danish People’s Party Alistair Darling: former UK chancellor David Davis: Brexit secretary Democratic Party (PD): Italy Democratic Party: US Bob Dole: US presidential candidate Bernard Donoughue: adviser to Jim Callaghan Iain Duncan Smith: former Conservative leader Recep Erdogan: president of Turkey Íñigo Errejón: Podemos’ political secretary Nigel Farage: former leader of UKIP Werner Faymann: former Austrian chancellor François Fillon: former French PM Five Star Movement (M5S): Italy Forza Italia party: Italy Norman Fowler: former Conservative minister Free Democratic Party: Germany Freedom Party (FPÖ): Austria Front National: France Colonel Gaddafi: former Libyan dictator Alexander Gauland: AfD politician Julia Gillard: former Australian PM Philip Gould: Labour adviser and guru Michael Gove: former Justice Secretary and leading ‘Out’ campaigner Green Party: Austria Beppe Grillo: founder of the Five Star Movement, Italy William Hague: former Conservative leader Joe Haines: press secretary for Harold Wilson Philip Hammond: UK chancellor Pauline Hanson: leader of the One Nation party in Australia Ted Heath: former PM Norbert Hofer: far-right-wing presidential candidate in Austria, Freedom Party François Hollande: French president Michael Howard: former Conservative leader and Home Secretary Tristram Hunt: former Labour MP Pablo Iglesias Turrión: leader of Podemos in Spain Diane James: briefly UKIP leader Roy Jenkins: former leader of the SDP Jobbik party: Hungary Boris Johnson: Foreign Secretary Lyndon B.


pages: 721 words: 238,678

Fall Out: A Year of Political Mayhem by Tim Shipman

banking crisis, Beeching cuts, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, centre right, Clapham omnibus, Corn Laws, corporate governance, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, drone strike, Etonian, eurozone crisis, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, iterative process, John Bercow, Kickstarter, kremlinology, land value tax, mutually assured destruction, Neil Kinnock, new economy, non-tariff barriers, offshore financial centre, open borders, quantitative easing, Ronald Reagan, Snapchat, working poor

If I have highlighted some of the extremes of their characters as they were experienced by others, I can only say my own contacts with them have almost always been positive. Both are dedicated public servants and – away from the stresses of office – charming company. If they did not always seem so to colleagues, it is worth remembering that all the best political operators I have known – Damian McBride, Dominic Cummings and Alastair Campbell among them – have been divisive figures. At HarperCollins I am deeply indebted to the incomparable Arabella Pike, whose image will adorn the next edition of the Illustrated Oxford Dictionary alongside the word ‘sangfroid’. I hope she persuades David Cameron to file quicker than I did. Robert Lacey and Iain Hunt dealt with a mountain of words with similar forbearance.

After May’s announcement of the timetable six months earlier, there was no serious debate at the top of the government about whether it was a good idea to adhere to the March deadline. A change would have created a political storm and required powers of persuasion with the Eurosceptics that May had not proven she possessed. Yet May’s optimism that she could do a deal in two years was to prove false within six months. Ivan Rogers told MPs he had warned May she should delay if she wanted to ‘avoid being screwed’ by Brussels. Dominic Cummings, the mastermind of the Leave campaign, was to call the triggering of Article 50 before the government had finalised its blueprint for Brexit or its contingency work for a no-deal scenario a ‘historic, unforgivable blunder’ akin to ‘putting a gun in your mouth’ and pulling the trigger. ‘Kaboom,’ he added. Fears that the government was not prepared to leave convinced George Bridges that he should resign as a minister, a decision he would keep to himself until after the general election.

The next Gove heard of the matter was when he was contacted the following day by a journalist from the Mail on Sunday who said he understood that Gove had reached out to Johnson. Gove reflected that if that was the level of discipline with which a second Johnson leadership campaign was to be conducted, he might be better off holding his fire. Yet he told a friend over dinner, ‘I suppose I’ll have to support him.’ Two other key players were in action that day. Dominic Cummings, the director of Vote Leave, who had disappeared from frontline politics since referendum day, saw his chance to reconstitute the Johnson–Gove team which had so spectacularly fallen apart a year earlier. At 5 p.m. on Friday, he called Steve Baker, a key ally from Vote Leave. A source present said, ‘Dom called up and said, “You need to back Boris.” Steve wouldn’t back Boris.’ The source said Johnson had been in touch with both Cummings and Lynton Crosby earlier in the day.


pages: 134 words: 41,085

The Wake-Up Call: Why the Pandemic Has Exposed the Weakness of the West, and How to Fix It by John Micklethwait, Adrian Wooldridge

Admiral Zheng, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, basic income, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, carried interest, cashless society, central bank independence, Corn Laws, coronavirus, COVID-19, Covid-19, creative destruction, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, Etonian, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, global pandemic, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jones Act, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, McMansion, night-watchman state, offshore financial centre, oil shock, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Parkinson's law, pensions crisis, QR code, rent control, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, smart cities, trade route, universal basic income, Washington Consensus

Despite its success, or perhaps because of it, democratic Asia has been shunned; one of the first things Trump did was to extract the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He has made clear, in his repeated conversations with dictators, that human rights are not a priority. At home, populists have generally ducked the challenge of reviving the Western state. There are certainly reformers in their midst. The White House contains a small group of deregulators who have cut the number of pages in the Federal Register from its record under Obama. Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s chief adviser, sees the break with Europe as merely the first stage of bureaucracy-slaying that will eventually create a “meritocratic technopolis.” But these would-be reformers look outnumbered. For every Brexiteer who wants to build a Singapore-on-Thames, there are many more who want their newly independent state to protect them against globalization—and Johnson seems intent on building a bigger state for them.

Not that there was a great selection. Johnson’s cabinet was a clique of partisans defined by their willingness to support Brexit “do or die” rather than any particular competence. Johnson refused to bring back Jeremy Hunt, the runner-up for his job who had run the health service for six years. (Hunt argued for testing and tracing from the beginning and constantly urged the government to learn from Asia.) By contrast, when Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s closest aide, broke the lockdown laws twice—by driving 270 miles from London to Durham and then driving 30 miles from his parents’ house to Barnard Castle “to test his eyesight”—he was forgiven. This stubborn loyalty did as much as anything to destroy trust in Johnson’s government and national solidarity. Newspapers offered Cummings masks to their readers on the basis that if you wore one, you could do anything you liked.


pages: 279 words: 90,888

The Lost Decade: 2010–2020, and What Lies Ahead for Britain by Polly Toynbee, David Walker

banking crisis, battle of ideas, Boris Johnson, call centre, car-free, centre right, collective bargaining, congestion charging, corporate governance, crony capitalism, David Attenborough, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, energy transition, Etonian, first-past-the-post, G4S, gender pay gap, gig economy, Gini coefficient, global village, high net worth, housing crisis, income inequality, industrial robot, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), James Dyson, manufacturing employment, mass immigration, moral panic, mortgage debt, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, payday loans, pension reform, quantitative easing, Right to Buy, Saturday Night Live, selection bias, smart meter, Uber for X, urban renewal, working-age population

The many differences included the Labour Party’s role: in one Gordon Brown had been muscular; in the other Jeremy Corbyn was absent, more saboteur than saviour, dismissing remain as histrionic, myth-making and reliant on ‘prophecies of doom’. A Motley Crew Europe did for Cameron, then for Theresa May. But we are little the wiser about the anti-Europeans: were they really as incoherent and superficial as they appeared, while still able to pull off such a coup? In the sub-Nietzschean person of Dominic Cummings, the Svengali of leave, the exercise of will – exit – was the purpose. Columnists talked about Brexit as a cult, but it was baggy enough to embrace a motley crew of English nationalists, neo-fascists, small-staters and sentimentalists. The ‘lexiters’, with Corbyn in their ranks, were parochial (socialism in one country) but simultaneously super-internationalist. All variants of leave, we subsequently learned, were backed by money and by both US interests and Vladimir Putin.

Parliament (which for practical purposes meant the House of Commons) consistently put party loyalty ahead of allegiance to the House as the ultimate authority in our system of government; few MPs had read any seventeenth-century history, and even fewer cared that they were treading over fundamental questions about the distribution of legitimate power and lawful rule. MPs seemed to practise odd indifference to their constitutional position. Dominic Cummings had cocked a snook at them, refusing to give evidence to a House of Commons committee; he was in contempt of parliament. It was later discovered that the Commons – ostensibly run by MPs – had unquestioningly issued him with a parliamentary pass. Confident parliamentarians, the MPs elected in 2015 might have declared the referendum vote a giant test of opinion, advisory only, and, moreover, one that offered no guidance about how or when leaving was to be effected.

However, like his £1.8 billion for hospital investment, this was flaky. When and for how long, and did it cover teachers’ pay and pensions? The most that could be said was that at last they were acknowledging the damage they had done. Gove’s Legacy In 2010 a government concerned about future prosperity could have built on sound foundations, while paying attention to vocational preparation. Instead, schools in England got Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings. They attacked careers education, with inspectors finding four out of five schools were failing to provide it (though Eton maintains a large, well-staffed careers advisory department). Tory think tanks were heard to ponder whether teachers even need a professional qualification to teach. Gove abolished the General Teaching Council established under Labour. In its place he concocted a £370,000 plan to send all schools a copy of the King James Bible, under his personal signature; it was all they needed as a source of good English.


pages: 215 words: 64,460

Shadows of Empire: The Anglosphere in British Politics by Michael Kenny, Nick Pearce

battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, British Empire, colonial rule, corporate governance, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, floating exchange rates, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, global reserve currency, imperial preference, informal economy, invention of the telegraph, Khartoum Gordon, labour mobility, liberal capitalism, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, Monroe Doctrine, Nixon shock, quantitative easing, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, trade route, Washington Consensus

When Gove, Johnson and others did refer to the Commonwealth directly, they tended to invoke a global tradition that Britain had abandoned in the 1970s when it made the fateful decision to enter the Common Market, a preference that flowed from the declinist sentiments which, they argued, prevailed in that decade. The Vote Leave campaign also sought to tap directly into popular anxieties about immigration by focusing on how membership of the EU prevented the UK from managing European migration flows, thereby yoking together the theme of popular sovereignty with that of border control. Dominic Cummings, adviser to Michael Gove and the main Vote Leave strategist, was clear about the centrality of immigration to the Brexit campaign: 15 years of immigration and, recently, a few years of the migration crisis from the East and Africa, dramatically portrayed on TV and social media, had a big effect. In 2000, focus groups were already unhappy with immigration but did not regard it as a problem caused by the EU.

Notes 1  Tim Shipman, All Out War: The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain's Political Class (London: William Collins, 2016). 2  Michael Gove, secretary of state for justice, Statement on the EU Referendum (20 February 2016), www.voteleavetakecontrol.org/statement_from_michael_gove_mp_secretary_of_state_for_justice_on_the_eu_referendum.html. 3  Ibid. 4  Ibid. 5  David Davis, ‘Britain would be better off outside the EU – and here's why’, ConservativeHome, 4 February 2016, www.conservativehome.com/platform/2016/02/david-davis-britain-would-be-better-off-out-of-the-eu-and-heres-why.html. 6  Dominic Cummings, On the Referendum #21: Branching Histories of the 2016 Referendum and ‘the Frogs before the Storm’ (9 January 2017), accessed at https://dominiccummings.wordpress.com/2017/01/09/on-the-referendum-21-branching-histories-of-the-2016-referendum-and-the-frogs-before-the-storm-2/. 7  ‘London mayor under fire for remark about “part-Kenyan” Barack Obama’, The Guardian, 22 April 2016, accessed at www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/apr/22/boris-johnson-barack-obama-kenyan-eu-referendum. 8  Helen Baxendale and Ben Wellings, ‘Anglosphere cooperation given a surprise boost after Brexit vote’, LSE Policy and Politics blog, 26 July 2016, http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexit/2016/07/26/after-the-brexit-vote-a-formalised-anglosphere-alliance-remains-unlikely/. 9  David Abulafia, ‘Britain: apart from or part of Europe’, History Today, 11 May 2015, www.historytoday.com/david-abulafia/britain-apart-or-part-europe; and various authors, ‘Fog in channel, historians isolated’, History Today, 18 May 2015, www.historytoday.com/various-authors/fog-channel-historians-isolated. 10  Anthony Barnett, The Lure of Greatness: England's Brexit and America's Trump (London: Unbound, 2017). 11  John O’Sullivan, ‘Joseph Chamberlain, Theresa May's new lodestar’, The Spectator, 16 July 2016, www.spectator.co.uk/2016/07/the-man-theresa-may-wants-to-be/. 12  Alan S.


pages: 385 words: 121,550

Three Years in Hell: The Brexit Chronicles by Fintan O'Toole

airport security, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, blockchain, Bob Geldof, Boris Johnson, British Empire, centre right, cognitive dissonance, congestion charging, deindustrialization, deliberate practice, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Downton Abbey, Etonian, eurozone crisis, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, first-past-the-post, full employment, income inequality, l'esprit de l'escalier, labour mobility, late capitalism, open borders, Slavoj Žižek, South China Sea, technoutopianism, zero-sum game

The grossly misleading posters showing brown-skin hordes supposedly queueing to get into the EU were ‘a matter of taste rather than accuracy’. He acknowledges that the use by the official Leave campaign of Turkey’s allegedly imminent membership of the EU was ‘a little bit speculative’. But, he adds, it did not affect ‘a single vote, apart maybe from some Kurds’. He does not tell us how he knows this or whether he has explained to Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings how they wasted so much money and effort in appealing to a non-existent xenophobia. It is just as well that it does not exist. If it did, people might misunderstand the benign nature of Liddle’s questions about whether immigrants can have proper feelings for ‘the nation’: ‘If you are a fairly recent arrival in this country, does its long existence as a nation state matter very much to you?

It began – if anyone can remember back that far – with the launch of the £100 million Get Ready publicity campaign by Michael Gove, with a rolling programme of giant display ads and TV, radio and online commercials. According to the London Times there was also ‘a substantial order placed for branded mugs and T-shirts’. And all of it is meant to shout: ‘GET READY! GET READ-Y!’ ‘NO DEAL IS COMING!’ Or, as the Westminster parliament put it instead: no it’s not. So while the Get-Ready Men – Gove, Boris Johnson and the prime minister Dominic Cummings – were bawling out their warnings through an incredibly expensive megaphone, a little bit of King Lear was playing out in the House of Commons. The play, after all, is about the collapse of political authority in Britain, caused by nothing more than a caprice. It shows the potentially terrible consequences of political self-indulgence. But in this Westminster production, there was a twist.

Johnson will surely be aware that the disaster didn’t just rejuvenate Emmerdale by freeing it from the shackles of plausibility, it pushed its way up the hierarchy of English soaps. It proved that a willingness to embrace catastrophe could unleash great potential. And the cataclysm became a benchmark of English resilience. In March 2000, after a bus crash, a cheery Emmerdale character said, ‘Well, we have survived a plane crash. I am sure we can survive this’ – just as we now hear in the vox pops (and presumably in Dominic Cummings’s focus groups) ‘We survived the Blitz, I am sure we can survive a no-deal Brexit.’ The Emmerdale option is the choice of the hard Leavers: a purifying crash-and-burn as a prelude to a much more thrilling series of ‘our island story’. Crossroads, on the other hand, is the option for the diehard Remainers. With Crossroads, the question was how to put a dying show out of its misery. How could it be brought to a sudden close?


pages: 364 words: 119,398

Men Who Hate Women: From Incels to Pickup Artists, the Truth About Extreme Misogyny and How It Affects Us All by Laura Bates

4chan, Ada Lovelace, Boris Johnson, cognitive dissonance, coherent worldview, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, gender pay gap, glass ceiling, Grace Hopper, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, off grid, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Snapchat, young professional

We saw it when Trump responded to the deadly, white-supremacist Charlottesville rally by saying that there were ‘very fine people on both sides’. (He later refused to apologise, claiming that the utterance had been put ‘perfectly’.)39 And we saw it after Johnson’s rhetoric was put in the spotlight, too. In the days that followed, as numerous female MPs reported death and rape threats and escalating abuse, Johnson’s chief special adviser, Dominic Cummings, gave an interview saying that the anger directed at MPs was ‘not surprising’. He said ‘serious threats’ of violence should be taken seriously, but added that, if politicians did not respect the result of the Brexit referendum, ‘what do you expect to happen?’ Finally, he concluded that ‘the situation can only be resolved by parliament honouring its promise to respect the result’. In other words, he responded to the fact that female MPs were facing an unprecedented bombardment of death threats and abuse with the veiled warning that they’d better deliver Brexit if they wanted it to stop.40 A sentiment driven by logic chillingly similar to that of the death threats.

, The Conversation, 14 November 2017 29 ‘Betsy DeVos Plans to Consult Men’s Rights Trolls About Campus Sexual Assault’, Slate, 11 July 2017 30 ‘The so-called “manosphere” is peopled with hundreds of websites, blogs and forums dedicated to savaging feminists in particular and women, very typically American women, in general’, Southern Poverty Law Center, 2012 31 ‘Steve Bannon: Five Things to Know’, ADL 32 ‘How Donald Trump’s New Campaign Chief Created an Online Haven for White Nationalists’, Mother Jones, August 2016 33 ‘White Nationalists Rejoice Trump’s Appointment of Breitbart’s Stephen Bannon’ Southern Poverty Law Center, 14 November 2016 34 ‘The horror, the horror’, Tortoise, 3 April 2019 35 ‘Only a proper Brexit can spare us from this toxic polarisation’, Daily Telegraph, 15 April 2019 36 ‘Steve Bannon: ‘We went back and forth’ on the themes of Johnson’s big speech’, The Guardian, 22 June 2019 37 ‘MPs’ fury at Boris Johnson’s “dangerous language”, BBC, 25 September 2019 38 ‘Man arrested outside office of Labour MP Jess Phillips’, The Guardian, 26 September 2019 39 ‘Trump defends response to Charlottesville violence, says he put it “perfectly” with “both sides” remark’, USA Today, 26 April 2019 40 ‘Dominic Cummings: Anger at MPs “not surprising”, PM’s adviser says’, BBC, 27 September 2019 41 ‘Labour MP calls for end to online anonymity after “600 rape threats” ’, The Guardian, 11 June 2018 42 ‘Ukip MEP candidate blamed feminists for rise in misogyny’, The Guardian, 22 April 2019 43 ‘Police investigate Ukip candidate over Jess Phillips rape comments’, The Guardian, 7 May 2019 44 ‘Under Siege For His Comments About Rape, UKIP’s Star Candidate Carl Benjamin Has Recruited Milo Yiannopoulos To Join His Campaign’, BuzzFeed, 8 May 2019 45 ‘Steve Bannon Targeted “Incels” Because They Are “Easy To Manipulate,” Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower Says’, Newsweek, 29 October 2019 46 ‘Reddit’s TheRedPill, notorious for its misogyny, was founded by a New Hampshire state legislator’, Vox, 28 April 2017 47 ‘Red Pill Boss: All Feminists Want to Be Raped’, Daily Beast, 29 November 2017 48 ‘New Hampshire State Rep Who Created Reddit’s “Red Pill” Resigns’, Daily Beast, 22 May 2017 49 ‘Jordan Peterson & Fascist Mysticism’, New York Review of Books, 19 March 2019 50 ‘Op-Ed: Hate on Jordan Peterson all you want, but he’s tapping into frustration that feminists shouldn’t ignore’, Los Angeles Times, 1 June 2018 51 ‘Jordan Peterson: “I don’t think that men can control crazy women” ’, The Varsity, 8 October 2018 52 ‘Why Can’t People Hear What Jordan Peterson Is Saying?’


pages: 170 words: 49,193

The People vs Tech: How the Internet Is Killing Democracy (And How We Save It) by Jamie Bartlett

Ada Lovelace, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrew Keen, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, Boris Johnson, central bank independence, Chelsea Manning, cloud computing, computer vision, creative destruction, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Filter Bubble, future of work, gig economy, global village, Google bus, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, information retrieval, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Julian Assange, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mittelstand, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, off grid, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, payday loans, Peter Thiel, prediction markets, QR code, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Renaissance Technologies, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Mercer, Ross Ulbricht, Sam Altman, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, smart cities, smart contracts, smart meter, Snapchat, Stanford prison experiment, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, strong AI, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, technoutopianism, Ted Kaczynski, the medium is the message, the scientific method, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, too big to fail, ultimatum game, universal basic income, WikiLeaks, World Values Survey, Y Combinator

* * * • • • This relentless arms race using sophisticated big data techniques is not going to slow down. Every election is becoming datafied in this way – spread by a network of private contractors and data analysts who offer these techniques to political parties all over the world. Several months before Trump’s victory, for example, the group campaigning for the UK to leave the European Union took a very similar approach. A few months after the referendum, Vote Leave’s campaign director Dominic Cummings wrote a handful of long blogs explaining why they won. Although he rejects any single ‘why’, it’s clear that he thinks data was instrumental: One of our central ideas was that the campaign had to do things in the field of data that have never been done before. This included a) integrating data from social media, online advertising, websites, apps, canvassing, direct mail, polls, online fundraising, activist feedback and some new things we tried such as a new way to do polling . . . and b) having experts in physics and machine learning do proper data science in the way only they can – i.e. far beyond the normal skills applied in political campaigns.


pages: 245 words: 72,893

How Democracy Ends by David Runciman

barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, centre right, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, first-past-the-post, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, Internet of things, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, loss aversion, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, Norman Mailer, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Peter Thiel, quantitative easing, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Steven Pinker, The Wisdom of Crowds, Travis Kalanick, universal basic income, Yogi Berra

Living in Cambridge, England, a passionately pro-European town and home to an elite university, I heard echoes of that argument in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. It was usually uttered sotto voce – you have to be a brave person to come out as an epistocrat in a democratic society – but it was unquestionably there. Behind their hands, very intelligent people muttered to each other that this is what you get if you ask a question that ordinary people don’t understand. Dominic Cummings, the author of the ‘Take Back Control’ slogan that helped win the referendum, found that his critics were not so shy about spelling it out to his face. Brexit happened, they told him, because the wicked people lied to the stupid people. So much for democracy. To say that democrats want to be ruled by the stupid and ignorant is unfair. No defender of democracy has ever claimed that stupidity or ignorance are virtues in themselves.


pages: 235 words: 73,873

Half In, Half Out: Prime Ministers on Europe by Andrew Adonis

banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, British Empire, centre right, colonial rule, congestion charging, Corn Laws, cuban missile crisis, Dominic Cummings, eurozone crisis, imperial preference, mass immigration, Neil Kinnock, oil shock

For the public, the two most visible effects of the enlargement policy championed so vigorously by the British elite were something close to a tripling of the UK’s net contribution to EU coffers, and the huge influx of Eastern European labour to the UK, facilitated by the Blair government’s decision to open the UK labour market without the transitional periods permitted by the treaties. For much of the public, both those effects were major negatives, and arguments about them played a heavy, perhaps decisive, part in the decision to leave the EU in June 2016. Vote Leave’s campaign director, Dominic Cummings, said as much about the importance of the £350 million claim in getting over the line. When the UK’s pro-EU elites excoriate Cameron’s decision on the referendum, or his strategy to win it, they must also, I think, reflect on how they underestimated the real-world consequences of enlargement for the bulk of what David Goodhart has termed the ‘Somewhere Classes’. They also need to consider the extent to which their policy preferences, couched in terms that made it sound morally reprehensible to question them, fuelled the wider public disillusionment with the metropolitan elites, which partly explains the Brexit vote.


Mindf*ck: Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America by Christopher Wylie

4chan, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, availability heuristic, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, Boris Johnson, British Empire, call centre, Chelsea Manning, chief data officer, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, computer vision, conceptual framework, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, desegregation, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Etonian, first-past-the-post, Google Earth, housing crisis, income inequality, indoor plumbing, information asymmetry, Internet of things, Julian Assange, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, new economy, obamacare, Peter Thiel, Potemkin village, recommendation engine, Renaissance Technologies, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Sand Hill Road, Scientific racism, Shoshana Zuboff, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, uber lyft, unpaid internship, Valery Gerasimov, web application, WikiLeaks, zero-sum game

Their slogan, “Vote Leave, Take Back Control,” was laughed at by Remain camps, but it was not really about the EU itself. It was meant to appeal to voters who otherwise felt their lives were not in their control—their lack of job prospects or an education meant that their lives, more than anyone else’s, were more susceptible to the winds of a bad economy and a British society that systemically ignores them. Vote Leave had been co-founded in 2015 by Dominic Cummings, one of Westminster’s most infamous political strategists, and Matthew Elliott, founder of several right-wing lobbying groups in the U.K. Some in the Vote Leave office disagreed on politics, but they were united under Cummings’s leadership behind the scenes. While Vote Leave operated from the seventh floor of Westminster Tower, on the banks of the River Thames, directly across from Parliament, Leave.EU was based more than a hundred miles away, in Lysander House, Bristol, overlooking a busy roundabout.


pages: 349 words: 98,868

Nervous States: Democracy and the Decline of Reason by William Davies

active measures, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Amazon Web Services, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, citizen journalism, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, Colonization of Mars, continuation of politics by other means, creative destruction, credit crunch, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, discovery of penicillin, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, drone strike, Elon Musk, failed state, Filter Bubble, first-past-the-post, Frank Gehry, gig economy, housing crisis, income inequality, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Johannes Kepler, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, loss aversion, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mont Pelerin Society, mutually assured destruction, Northern Rock, obamacare, Occupy movement, pattern recognition, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, planetary scale, post-industrial society, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Florida, road to serfdom, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, smart cities, statistical model, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, Turing machine, Uber for X, universal basic income, University of East Anglia, Valery Gerasimov, We are the 99%, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

It was, in Hobbes’s view, a system of representation (both of nature and of the public interest) without any legal underpinnings. Many contemporary attacks on scientific expertise share certain elements of Hobbes’s suspicion of the Royal Society. The sense that experts are a privileged “elite” who then instruct the rest of us what to believe is prevalent in many reactionary and populist movements such as the Tea Party and the alt-right. Dominic Cummings, campaign director of Vote Leave which campaigned for Britain to leave the European Union, is routinely dismissive of “cargo-cult science,” a charge that compares established scientific circles to religious cults, impervious to the critiques of outsiders. Climate-change denialism depends on the idea that climate scientists are an inward-looking community, who only seek evidence that reinforces what they’ve already declared true.


pages: 391 words: 123,597

Targeted: The Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower's Inside Story of How Big Data, Trump, and Facebook Broke Democracy and How It Can Happen Again by Brittany Kaiser

Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Asian financial crisis, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, Boris Johnson, Burning Man, call centre, centre right, Chelsea Manning, clean water, cognitive dissonance, crony capitalism, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Etonian, haute couture, illegal immigration, Julian Assange, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Nelson Mandela, off grid, open borders, Renaissance Technologies, Robert Mercer, rolodex, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, statistical model, the High Line, the scientific method, WikiLeaks, young professional

It was also, in so many ways, the technological precursor to the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign—and just across the pond on the day of the Brexit vote, the Cambridge Analytica machine was up and running. It wouldn’t be until many months later that I would learn that my nagging feeling that some of CA’s work had been used to motivate voters to cast their ballot for Leave had indeed been correct—only, as it turned out, it was Vote Leave that first confirmed having used our approach, or at least one that closely resembled it. It was said that the head of Vote Leave, Dominic Cummings, regarded data as his religion. His plan was to carry out as much of the campaign digitally (using Facebook, in particular), a strategy at odds with the ways that campaigns in Britain had been carried out for decades. As was revealed in The Observer, Vote Leave had contracted with none other than AIQ, which worked for them throughout the campaign and provided help to groups connected to them, including BeLeave and Veterans for Britain.2 AIQ became embedded in Vote Leave headquarters, maintaining a small but powerful op center there.


pages: 419 words: 119,476

Posh Boys: How English Public Schools Ruin Britain by Robert Verkaik

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Alistair Cooke, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Boris Johnson, British Empire, Brixton riot, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, Etonian, G4S, gender pay gap, God and Mammon, income inequality, Khartoum Gordon, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, Livingstone, I presume, loadsamoney, mega-rich, Neil Kinnock, offshore financial centre, old-boy network, place-making, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Robert Gordon, Robert Mercer, school vouchers, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, trade route, traveling salesman, unpaid internship

The players behind CA also appeared to have links to the mainstream Brexit group, Vote Leave, which had employed two Westminster public school PR whizz kids with a proven track record in influencing national opinion. Matthew Elliott, educated at Leeds Grammar school, was a founder of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, Big Brother Watch and Business for Britain. He was joined by the Svengali figure of Dominic Cummings (Durham School), a close political adviser of Michael Gove. A third member of the Vote Leave team was Tom Borwick (Stowe), the son of a Tory MP. Borwick had been a consultant for CA before he joined Vote Leave as its chief technology officer, responsible for ‘creating and integrating the development roadmap and tools for the EU referendum campaign’. Although Cummings and Vote Leave denied using CA it later emerged that the Vote Leave campaign had paid £2.7 million (nearly half its spending budget) to a tiny Canadian data profiling company called AggregateIQ (AIQ) which was alleged to be linked to CA.19 In 2018, as the furore broke around Facebook’s failure to protect its users’ data, CA whistle-blowers claimed the Brexit campaigners had broken the referendum spending rules and misused personal data.


How to Be a Liberal by Ian Dunt

4chan, Alfred Russel Wallace, bank run, battle of ideas, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, bounce rate, British Empire, Brixton riot, Carmen Reinhart, centre right, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, eurozone crisis, experimental subject, feminist movement, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, Growth in a Time of Debt, illegal immigration, invisible hand, John Bercow, Kenneth Rogoff, liberal world order, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, means of production, Mohammed Bouazizi, Northern Rock, old-boy network, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, price mechanism, profit motive, quantitative easing, recommendation engine, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Scientific racism, Silicon Valley, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, upwardly mobile, Winter of Discontent, working poor, zero-sum game

At first it seemed as if there might be a formal barrier to prevent this kind of contamination. The movement to leave the EU was split in two, between a Farage-dominated camp called Leave.EU and an official mainstream campaign called Vote Leave. Vote Leave was expected to be more respectable, to deliver a traditional eurosceptic message focused on loss of sovereignty. The man at its head was called Dominic Cummings. He seemed to be a fairly typical political figure, with a track record working in the education department during the Conservative government. But in fact he was something altogether different. Cummings was prepared to break all the unspoken rules and principles of political conduct. His thinking was not really conservative at all. Instead of preserving traditional structures, he seemed motivated by a desire to destroy and remould them.