Summary: it is difficult to exaggerate the malign influence that Dominic Cummings has had on this government. The lack of intellectual firepower in the Cabinet has led to a range of bad decisions being made throughout the pandemic. We have paid already through an enormous death toll and are continuing to pay. The economic damage will take years to repair with projections of over 6 million unemployed by the end of this year. If the Prime Minister cannot develop a more coherent plan he should move to let another takeover.
Running the country is not easy. Everything is interconnected and government procurement programs often go badly wrong. Examples are MoD procurement and the multiple computer systems contracts for the health service.
Problems start with the decision process in government. Committees are formed to decide policy and then passed to more junior civil servants to implement the decision, an implementation which may not have been thought about much at all. Committees love to be fully representative of all the stakeholders but tend not to have those with experience of delivering successful programs. A Tory government is convinced that everything is better handled by a commercial contractor even if they have no relevant experience.
The present government is widely agreed to be rather third division made up of those blindingly devoted to Brexit, particularly Brexit with no deal. A wider range of backgrounds and experience is sorely missing in the present cabinet. This makes them even more likely to be affected by special advisers who happen present at critical meetings. If a special adviser is notoriously difficult to deal with, argumentative and hectoring as well as being very certain that he is right then the committee will make bad decisions.
Unfortunately our Prime Minister has got his own gollum hidden away in a deep sub-basement of number 10. Because of his Rasputin -like grip on the mind of our nominal Prime Minister, and as all are certain that to cross him is to court an early departure from the corridors of power, his power is immense yet nobody really knows what is policies might be. No one is given a chance to discuss it and policies appear and disappear without much explanation. This is not helped by Dominic the Mad being well established on the autistic spectrum. He is generally confident that you are not capable of understanding such matters and therefore can be safely ignored.
People like him are quite common in Cambridge where I have spent many years as a science researcher. Like Dominic the Mad, they have an intellect the size of the planet yet are fundamentally quite stupid. They will make decisions thinking that they are conscious of all the ramifications when they are not. Loose ends are ignored and left to others to tidy up.
We don’t know, of course, where in particular this gollum has had an influence because although minutes of meetings may be published, attendance by “special advisers” is often conveniently omitted. We can, however, be confident that he was present at many of the critical meetings throughout the management or at least mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic still currently raging around.
The initial decision was to preserve the Tory party at all costs by ensuring that whatever happened, the NHS survived. This produced several fairly damaging policies. By ignoring what was happening all around the world are government was very slow to regain consciousness after the excitement of BREXIT, the Prime Minister having a couple of weeks in Mustique and generally not wanting to stop any of the fun (the Tories had lots of funding from the racing fraternity so Cheltenham continued in full, and cancelling an international football match) meant that everything was left to slide.
One early decision they are now finding difficult was choosing a social distance of 2 m and not using facemasks when the world health organisation recommended 1 m and facemasks. Other countries that went for 1 m have found it much easier coming out of lockdown. This decision ensured facemasks were available for the NHS since of course nothing much had been ordered in advance despite important reviews by key committees months and years in advance drawing attention to our total lack of preparedness. Not to mention waking up and realising what was going on around the world in the beginning of January.
And then there was the quite unbelievable decision to empty our hospitals of the elderly into care homes without any attempt at testing them. It was known from the beginning that the elderly were particularly at risk from Covid 19 and to dump 25,000 untested elderly people into care homes without any attempt to provide tests for the refugees or their carers was tantamount to mass murder.
From the beginning it was accepted that testing was critical. However despite many offers of existing testing and tracing operations in the UK, and from hospitals and laboratories throughout the country all of whom could have contributed to a serious programme of testing as they did in Germany meant that when we went into lockdown we were testing 1/20 of the number being tested in Germany at that time. Not only did we not use our existing expertise we then gave massive contracts to companies with no experience in this such as Deloitte. These mega testing centres are still barely working as they should, often taking 72 hours minimum for completing the test and often as long as a week by which time the patient has either recovered or died. The performance of these centres and the way Public Health England dealt with them and they in turn dealt with the testing procedure is still not being handled properly and these failures will continue and worsen until they are sorted out properly.
Many of these decisions were made by committees with Dominic The Mad present. We have no idea what his influence might have been but it is unlikely to have been helpful.
Boris Johnson’s government has succeeded in three months killing and injuring many more people than the Luftwaffe managed to kill and injure in five years of bombing. Poor management and an indifference have delivered suffering on an extraordinary scale. And now we have many years in which to manage the worst economic outcome of any Western economy all because of our own incompetence.
The only way out is to hope that the backbenchers of the Tory party realise that their legacy is becoming more toxic by the day and do something to change the leadership as well as getting rid of the gollum.
Otherwise, the challenges of these same individuals making key decisions about Brexit is pretty scary particularly when many more voters would now choose to Remain rather than to Leave. And we also hear that Dominic the Mad is trying to pressurise the government into rolling back on its green new deal promises. What is he trying to do and can he not explain it to us all? If the Prime Minister cannot develop a programme for the government without his involvement he should move to one side unless another takeover. It would be much better for the Tories and very much better for the country.