Tony Blair’s spinmeister Alastair Campbell is supposed to have said that if a poliicial story lasted more than a week then the subject of it is probably toast (Campbell denied this in a blog post, saying it depended on circumstances – not quite so catchy.)
The Dominic Cummings “breaking the lockdown” story is now more than a few days old and the Government (or those members who don’t hate Cummings) are making big efforts to consign it to history. Cummings himself appeared in the Downing Street Rose Garden yesterday (below) to give his side of the story – pretty capably I thought although others disagreed – while his master then appeared at a delayed Downing Street Covid-19 briefing to offer more backing. Much less adroitly I thought.
Boris seemed to be trying to smother it by announcing further lockdown easing. He’d have been better advised to have saved this for today. But, with Cummings fighting for his job, who’s advising him?
Cummmings will probably get away with it – this time – provided that his detailed account of his doings is true – in every detail. But even Boris must be aware that such an unruly character – an anarchist is one of the more polite descriptions, David Cameron once called him a “career pyschopath” – is best parked somewhere other than Downing Street.
Cartoonist Nick Newman, as ever, hit the nail on the head in the Sunday Times. “I can’t fire Cummings,” his Boris said (or something like it) “until he tells me to.”
Boris, who’s looking increasingly like a loser even though he heads a government with a majority of 80, badly needs a seasoned adviser who can can produced some credible, nimble communications and calm down the hacks.