Boring bastards won't beat Dominic Cummings

... and the media is delighted with Keir Starmer because he's a boring bastard

The British political media have a fetish; a hard-on for the normcore, a delight with boring bastards that makes them pure tumescent. That’s a problem when it comes to dealing with true radicals. They can’t understand how those people work, given that they become starry-eyed and fire-loined over anyone with a nice haircut and moderately expensive suit.

When Sir Keir Starmer — the ‘Sir’ part is especially exciting to the grey fetishists — became the leader of the Labour Party, many political commentators published pieces that were variants on this theme: The Adults Are Back In The Room. But so far the adults have seemed to be stolid and self-defeating, and while Starmer can look like a Prime Minister in an ITV evening drama, people don’t actually want his Labour Party to actually, you know, be in charge of anything.

Meanwhile, although the papers and political broadcasters remain obsessed with Dominic Cummings, they cannot get their heads around who he is or why he does the things he does. The same affliction beset Tory MPs who tried to butt heads with the pugnacious spad last year. He got them chucked out of the party. They howled on TV and won a few votes. Cummings got what he wanted in the end.

Some have described Cummings, with his fanatical desire to rip down much of what he considers a sclerotic state machine, as “a Maoist”. Mao had more chill than Dominic Cummings and he killed up to 46 million people during the “Great Leap Forward”, which makes Dom’s Herd Immunity wheeze — pun intended — look practically modest.

Regardless, Cummings is not easy for the competence shaggers to understand. He dresses scruffily and doesn’t do things according to their norms, and his blog posts are long, rambling and in need of an editor, each one enough to stuff a whole manifesto with intentions, policies and what the Thick of It called “policy flavours”, those E-number rich political ideas that sound ‘good’ on paper but never actually end up implemented anywhere beyond the pulsing brains of Think Tank Mekons.

The UK press and media cannot understand or analyse Cummings because they are boring bastards. And whatever Cummings might be — evil seems like a good adjective — he is not boring. In past lives, when he was required to appear before the media officially more frequently, his interviews had a ‘John Lydon near the end of the Sex Pistols vibe’, as he contorted his face into parodies of smiles and barely managed to conceal the vitriol swirling in his gut. Dominic Cummings thinks the press are idiots and, on the balance of the evidence, he’s probably right.


So what could they do differently?

Well, for a start, they should actually read a few of the books that Cummings always wangs on about, and try to understand what he’s trying to do — both what he says publicly and what his true motivations are. A Robespierre-like radical, he does not want to tinker with the state, he wants to remake it. And he is very bored with the norms and traditions that political reporters can’t get enough of. For Cummings, it’s not about “playing 3D chess” as the pol hacks love to burble. He will happily smash up the chessboard and toss most of the chess pieces directly into a trash compactor.

People like Robert Peston and Laura Kuensberg — the latter so keen on gooning around on the Newcast podcast and seeming ‘human’ while also being absolutely out of her gourd on the drug of political gossip — think they are not boring. But they are. Desperately bloody boring. They are like that wacky bloke at work who always dresses up for Red Nose Day, even that one year when you all had to go to a colleague’s funeral and were deeply frustrated to see he had arrived in a pantomime horse costume. Peston mistakes doing silly voices for being interesting, Kuensberg simply uses slang occasionally like an older aunt trying to pretend that she was once ‘quite into Busta Rhymes’. BUSTA RHYMES!

If the boring bastards are not retrained or replaced with less boring bastards, Dominic Cummings will continue to run rings around them. I don’t like it, but that’s the truth.