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When Armando Iannucci created the classic satirical sitcom The Thick of It, he could never have imagined that a real figure would soon appear behind the scenes at Downing Street who would make his character Malcolm Tucker look like a pussycat.
Dominic Cummings has become the power behind the closed door of No 10 – a carnival villain whose dishevelled appearance and complete absence of any respect whatsoever for well… anyone, would be a caricature if not for the fact that it’s all true.
This Oxford graduate is not a member of the Conservative Party – in fact he’s not a member of any political party – yet at the moment he is the most powerful, and potentially the most dangerous, man in the country.
This unelected professional maverick is a political strategist like no other. He was not only the architect of Brexit, he was the guiding hand that delivered it and Boris appears to trust him above all others.
The Hobson’s choice presented to Sajid Javid last week which resulted in his resignation may have come from Boris’ lips, but the strategy was pure Cummings, whose new project post-Brexit is as a new broom sweeping away the old idea of departments working independently and bringing them all under the direct control of the prime minister, or to be more accurate, HIM!
Cummings doesn’t do things by half measures, which doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, but in his case he seems to think it has given him carte blanche to walk over the principles of a free press by trying to shut some journalists out of the No 10 media briefing.
Luckily, the likes of Robert Peston and Laura Kuenssberg showed solidarity with those excluded, so that’s unlikely to rear its head again for a while.
Something needs to happen to clip this man’s wings. I’m all for his conviction that the Tory Party needs to make good on its promise to the north now that the red wall has come down, but the way he has become this Rasputin-like figure (albeit with his shirt hanging out of the back of his trousers) on Boris Johnson’s shoulder is scary because he’s effectively running the country from behind the scenes.
Kicked when she was down
The death of Caroline Flack on Saturday was a tragedy waiting to happen the closer her court date came and the inevitable tabloid circus that would have accompanied it.
I don’t think there can be any argument that the red tops especially have spent years pouring over the minutae of her private life and have certainly been quick to ridicule her at every opportunity.
But if someone earns their living from having a very public persona, then being hauled before a judge is news. Having to step down from presenting a popular show like Love Island because of it was news, although I sense that may well have been the final straw.
The voyeuristic aspect of the show reflecting into Caroline’s own life is particularly ironic in hindsight.
I’ve seen comments on social media about death by tabloid and my instant reaction to that would usually be to say that people are responsible for their own actions and the consequences of those actions so don’t shoot the messenger.
That’s not an easy argument to make when someone who obviously had issues was mercilessly kicked when she was so clearly suffering.
Stupid TV Quiz answer of the week
Of course, it’s Tipping Point, a haven for thickos
Q: Who won the first ever football World Cup?
A: Manchester United?
Q: Which member of the Royal Family gave birth to Archie in 2019?