Laborious to think about anybody fairly as destructively attention-seeking as Prince Harry, who this week introduced the publication of an ‘intimate’ memoir, little doubt detailing the complete horror of rising up by no means having to fret about the place the following penny was coming from or how you can put meals on the desk (besides, in fact, when it’s the servants’ afternoon off).
I’ve identified Dom on and off for a few years, virtually 20 years, the truth is. He’s a person of nice political ardour and possesses a superb thoughts. Too good, typically.
Intellectually, he can throw shade on virtually everybody he encounters: you must be significantly on the ball to maintain up with him, even when he’s half a bottle of wine down at dinner.
When you don’t know him, his direct method can typically be mistaken for aggression. It’s not, really; however it’s true, he doesn’t undergo fools gladly. I’ve little doubt it was this, coupled with an unnerving and really unclubbable behavior of telling folks the reality about themselves, that made him such a Marmite determine at No.10 and which, in the end, price him his job.
I’ve identified Dom on and off for a few years, virtually 20 years, the truth is. He’s a person of nice political ardour and possesses a superb thoughts. Too good, typically
David Cameron disliked him intensely, famously calling him a ‘profession psychopath’, which I all the time sensed Dom took as one thing of a praise (there was no love misplaced between these two males).
In actual fact, when Cameron was elected Prime Minister, he didn’t need Dom — who had labored onerous in opposition alongside my husband to plot Cameron’s schooling technique — to affix the Division for Training.
On the time, I couldn’t actually see why — however with hindsight, maybe he had some extent. Finally Dom’s absolute refusal — or lack of ability — to ponder even the slightest compromise has made him a really awkward cog to insert into the machine of presidency.
That mentioned, Dom’s saving grace, I all the time felt, was that he stayed away from front-line politics, preferring to get his palms soiled within the engine-room of energy and go away the shiny Sir Humphrey stuff to others. However one thing concerning the previous few years, within the aftermath of Dom’s Brexit triumph and the continuing psychodrama between him and the Prime Minister, appears to have modified all that.
Put it this manner: the Dom of outdated would by no means have dreamt of doing a sit-down interview with the BBC, Meghan and Harry model. He would have thought of it an act of spectacular idiocy.
However then energy, or closeness to energy (and even worse, lack of it), does humorous issues to folks’s heads, and this Dom is a really totally different man from the one I knew.
Having watched the entire thing, maybe essentially the most damaging a part of the interview is the revelation of a WhatsApp message thread from Boris to aides, despatched on October 15 final 12 months
He claims he isn’t motivated by a need for revenge; however there’s no denying he appears hellbent on bringing down his former boss — no matter the associated fee.
Maybe that’s as a result of, as final night time’s interview made crystal clear, he by no means actually thought of Johnson his boss within the first place, merely his chosen vessel within the pursuit of energy.
Let’s face it, that is one political bromance that’s gone very bitter certainly. In actual fact, there’s one thing slightly alarming within the paranoid — even brutal — approach Dom appears to obsess concerning the new Mrs Johnson, whom he claims supplanted him within the Prime Minister’s affections.
‘Earlier than even mid-January we have been having conferences in No. 10 saying it’s clear that Carrie desires rid of all of us,’ he tells Laura Kuenssberg within the interview.
‘At that time we have been already saying by the summer time both we’ll all have gone from right here or we’ll be within the technique of making an attempt to eliminate him and get another person in as Prime Minister.’
All of it moderately brings to thoughts that Taylor Swift music: ‘We used to have mad love/however now we’ve received unhealthy blood’, the video for which concerned Swift and her pals tearing chunks out of one another. That is, fairly actually, a equally less-than-edifying spectacle for all events concerned. However it is usually greater than only a jilted adviser boiling the metaphorical bunny.
Dom has all the time had an anarchic edge to his character. Correctly channelled, it offers him an electrifying edge. However tinged because it now appears to be with resentment, it’s an altogether extra poisonous type of vitality. He isn’t solely trashing his former boss, he’s additionally undermining the very establishment of presidency — in a lot the identical approach that Harry’s current outpourings devalue the monarchy.
David Cameron disliked him intensely, famously calling him a ‘profession psychopath’, which I all the time sensed Dom took as one thing of a praise (there was no love misplaced between these two males)
Like Harry, Dom just isn’t content material to easily flip his again on No. 10 — he desires to burn it to the bottom. And all for what? As a result of it’s onerous to see how any of this advantages the nation, or leads us any nearer to defeating Covid. It’s only one man and his ego, on the rampage.
Having watched the entire thing, maybe essentially the most damaging a part of the interview is the revelation of a WhatsApp message thread from Boris to aides, despatched on October 15 final 12 months, by which he noticed: ‘I need to say I’ve been barely rocked by a number of the knowledge on Covid fatalities. The median age is 82-81 for males, 85 for girls. That’s above life expectancy. So get Covid and dwell longer. Hardly anybody beneath 60 goes into hospital (4 computer) and of these nearly all survive.’
He goes on. ‘And I now not purchase all this NHS overwhelmed stuff. People, I believe we might have to recalibrate. There are max 3m on this nation over 80. It reveals we don’t go for nationwide lockdown.’
Dom isn’t any idiot. He is aware of the explosive nature of those messages, and he is aware of that, taken out of context, they seem merciless and callous. He additionally is aware of that within the present local weather of blame throughout feverish social media platforms, they are going to play into the narrative of Johnson as a person who places politics earlier than folks — certainly he mentioned as a lot final night time — and who will pursue a populist agenda at the price of something, even human life.
The truth, in fact, is much extra complicated. As a result of in contrast to Dom, who as an adviser loved all the trimmings of energy with none of the accountability, the buck stops with Johnson. It isn’t solely his job, but additionally his responsibility, to weigh up the professionals and cons of his actions — even, sure, to the purpose of questioning the knowledge of sacrificing the pursuits of the overwhelming majority to guard a small minority.
Removed from being in denial concerning the state of affairs, as Cummings implies, it appears to me the Prime Minister was dealing with down the realities of Covid, asking the chilly, onerous questions that wanted asking. The actual drawback, from Dom’s perspective, was that he wasn’t doing as he was advised any extra.
Johnson’s job in the course of the pandemic has meant he had been compelled to make some very disagreeable calculations, of which the above is only one. He has needed to stability the lives of those that are clinically susceptible to Covid within the quick time period with these destined to die within the medium time period due to untreated ailments similar to most cancers and coronary heart illness (at present regarded as within the area of 150,000), with an NHS backlog now estimated at 13 million.
Dom isn’t any idiot. He is aware of the explosive nature of those messages, and he is aware of that, taken out of context, they seem merciless and callous
Then there are the long-term results of lockdown on future generations, debt, the economic system, folks’s livelihoods, society, psychological well being and so forth.
And he has to take action beneath excessive strain, in essentially the most hostile of circumstances and with huge quantities of conflicting and continually altering knowledge.
For Johnson, there have been by no means any good options, solely much less unhealthy ones. No matter he did, whichever path he selected, some type of disaster was all the time inevitable; both approach folks have been going to die, whether or not they be an 85-year-old in a care residence or, like my buddy whose delayed most cancers prognosis means she’s going to most likely not see Christmas, a mom in her early 50s.
Weighing up these selections is a tough course of and it means exploring all of the choices and seeing the issue from all angles. You even have to have the ability to say the un- sayable, to ponder the unthinkable, and belief that your psychological modelling won’t be taken out of context and used towards you at a later date.
Dom might say, as he does, that Johnson was by no means suited to the job, and that ‘we solely received him in there [note the narcissistic nature of that phrasing] as a result of we needed to remedy a sure drawback, not as a result of he was the precise individual to be working the nation’.
However the truth is, I doubt whether or not anybody else would have achieved significantly better. Actually not Theresa Might, queen of indecision; and undoubtedly not Jeremy Corbyn.
For Johnson, there have been by no means any good options, solely much less unhealthy ones. No matter he did, whichever path he selected, some type of disaster was all the time inevitable
There’s a wider subject right here, too, one among private conduct. As a result of if a Prime Minister dealing with the worst of conditions can’t belief his closest aides, the very folks — like Dom — who’re supposed to assist him carry this enormous and admittedly unfathomable burden of accountability, what’s he to do? In instances of nationwide and international disaster, these unfortunate sufficient to search out themselves holding the reins of energy are compelled to make selections nobody ought to ever should make. The closest analogy to this pandemic is World Struggle II, by which 1000’s of able-bodied younger folks gave their lives to guard the liberty of the nation as an entire.
The Prime Minister on the time, Winston Churchill, confronted related inconceivable selections, albeit in relation to troop deployment and navy technique. A few of them turned out to be the precise ones. Others turned out to be enormous errors which price many lives. However determined instances require determined measures, and typically — as now we have seen with the vaccine rollout — the boldest dangers do repay. However you possibly can’t take dangers if you’re continually having to anticipate a possible witch-hunt.
In Churchill’s day, the concepts fizzing round in his head would have been debated in a bunker beneath Whitehall, or in memos fired off to colleagues. In the present day, a digital message dashed off on WhatsApp — really easy to avoid wasting and expose later to damaging impact — is the incendiary equal.
What makes Dom’s revelations much more of a betrayal — and forces us to query his motives even additional — is that ultimately, as everyone knows, Johnson did in the end select to guard the older era on the expense of the youthful one. He did lock up the nation to avoid wasting a fraction of the inhabitants, and he did it at enormous political price.
He might not but be paying the value, for the reason that true after-effects of lockdown have barely begun to point out; however in a number of years’ time, when the monetary realities chunk, when the psychological and bodily toll begins to point out, there’ll — as there was for Churchill, who misplaced the post-war election to Clement Attlee — be a reckoning. Till then, it appears the Domshells will proceed to rain down.