The End of ‘Domocracy’ at No 10

Dominic Cummings Special
Special Adviser Dominic Cummings leaves 10 Downing Street leaves with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on October 3, 2019. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)

Dominic Cummings's departure from Downing Street gives Boris Johnson the chance to reshuffle his team on more democratic lines, says former SpAd Peter Cardwell

Having been originally reluctant take the role of adviser to Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings never needed the title of chief of staff.  That’s because he had more power than almost anyone who has ever had that role.  Dom – who I worked alongside as a special adviser – came into government for three reasons: to secure a large majority for the Conservative party in an election, get Brexit done and to reorganise the way the civil service interacts with the political team. The fact that he has achieved all three of these things in less than 18 months is an incredible legacy many Cabinet Ministers would kill for.  And that is why he is probably the most successful special adviser in the 56 years the role has formally existed.
But, in the end, Dominic’s unseemly demise was much more Albert Square than Downing Street.  Just as when a the soap actor’s character gets killed off, the “reasons” are the same – I was planning to leave anyway, I felt I had done everything I could with the character and I look forward to the exciting new opportunities ahead.  For someone who hates the press, Dominic is nonetheless a brilliant spinner himself, however his excuse that his blog had outlined that he would leave by the end of the year anyway was a bit of a stretch.  
Back in Downing Street, Boris Johnson is, conventional wisdom goes, weakened.  But, actually, this could be a huge opportunity a reset of the Johnson administration, which could come back even stronger.  Underestimating Boris Johnson is a mistake many have made, including me.  And we’ve heard so much this week about what Dom wants, what Lee wants, what Carrie wants, what Allegra wants, but very little about what Boris Johnson himself wants.  Now he must tell us in no uncertain terms.
And that signal can be sent loudly and clearly by Boris appointing a chief of staff who will be anonymous, operate in the shadows and who will allow Boris — not any adviser — to show political leadership.  That’s why someone like Dr Munira Mirza – Boris’s hugely able, consensual and drama-free director of policy – or a long-serving Conservative activist such as David Canzini, who properly knows the party inside out, would be excellent appointments.
A reshuffle must be carried out in January, well before the local elections and can be a huge chance to chance to refresh the team and return to Cabinet government: democracy as it should be, rather than a Domocracy.
Peter Cardwell is the author of ‘The Secret Life of Special Advisers‘, published by Biteback, which is available now

Power hungry: London’s best restaurants for politicos

The political power lunch is back. Mace chose 9 of the best locations for the bloodthirsty and just thirsty

Alan Duncan’s diaries are crass and self-indulgent

Contrary to the book’s very first line, Duncan was not “at the centre of British politics for nearly thirty years”.

The mutant variant of parliament has poisoned Westminster

Worse still, much of the new intake of MPs have not been able to discover the art of cooperation.

Cameron, Greensill and small violins

David Cameron isn’t the only one, observes Marie Le Conte. What else do we expect ex-politicians to do?