Dominic Cummings thinks he’s Otto von Bismark. In fact he’s Finchy from The Office

In the end, David Brent liberates himself from the idolisation of his idiot hero. There is an election coming, and the voters might just do the same

Tom Peck
Political Sketch Writer
Friday 27 September 2019 19:31
Dominic Cummings says people should not watch the news

The only real question left to answer about Dominic Cummings, the former strategic genius whom you would now no longer trust to light one of his own farts without hospitalising himself, is whether he is Finchy to Johnson’s David Brent or the other way around.

After watching the full six minutes of his perambulatory WTFgasm with Sky News’s Lewis Goodall, it is hard to decide which of The Office’s most iconic scenes it most closely represents.

Goodall, in hot pursuit of Cummings through the dark in the London rain on Thursday night, wants to know what everyone wants to know. If, by the end of next month’s EU summit, the UK and the EU haven’t done a deal, will Boris Johnson do what he is legally compelled to do, and ask for an Article 50 extension?

He asks this several times, but frankly, has not considered the sheer genius of the man before him, who, instead of an answer, instead starts to quiz Mr Goodall on the date of the EU summit in question, and what date does Johnson have to have written the letter by. “Is it the 17th or the 18th?” Cummings shouts, several times, pointing in Goodall’s direction.

Goodall, off the top of his head, can’t remember if it’s the 17th or the 18th or the 19th because, well, because it very obviously does not matter in the slightest.

And this, we quickly learn, is how Cummings, in his own small head and absolutely nowhere else, imagines himself to have emerged victorious from a baffling and downright weird encounter.

But back to the original question. Because I’ve watched it six times now and I really cannot decide, in that moment, whether we are seeing David Brent, shouting, “There’s a been a rape up there!” in the face of a confused corporate teambuilding facilitator.

Or are we witnessing Finchy, throwing a pair of shoes over the office building and thus claiming victory in the staff pub quiz that everyone has just seen him hopelessly lose?

Who am I kidding? Course it’s Finchy. It’s so obvious. Just as Tim is told, at this point, as the winners’ champagne is ripped free from his hand, “Don’t f*** with the big boys,” so Cummings goes on a similarly enlightened charm offensive.

“People watching at home should know, don’t watch the news, it’s almost all bulls***,” he says.

“They have people like you on and they don’t even know it’s the 17th or the 18th of October. That’s your job to know that. You don’t know that do you?”

I confess, even I did not suspect Cummings was this bad. Whoever could have known that a man who locks himself in a cupboard to be alone with his thoughts is in fact the kind of genius who fires out devastating “actually it’s *you’re* not your”-style take downs to blue tick celebrities on Twitter?

Still, it is possible the great man actually has a point. Anyone who has watched any of the news over the last 24 hours would struggle not to agree with the idea that the news is all bulls***. And this, principally, is because it has mainly featured bulls*** being talked by Dominic Cummings.

On Thursday night, he made a rare televised public appearance at a book launch for a hard Brexit-backing multimillionaire donor, and breezily announced that Brexit “is a walk in the park”.

On Friday morning, the same news reporters asked him, “Is it all a walk in the park?”

Only for him to reply, “A walk in the park, who said that?”

“You,” he was told. “You said it at a book launch last night.”

At this point he is in his government car, shouting, “Nooooo,” just as the door shuts, when the word he is looking for is in fact, “Yeeeees.”

All of this has left us precious little time to get in to the fact that he is still nonchalantly blaming MPs for their own death threats, for “not getting Brexit done,” still has “senior cabinet ministers” anonymously briefing The Times to warn that if you don’t get Brexit done “there will be riots”.

It is miserable to have to point out that, in public life, the role of the people who make the laws has traditionally been to encourage people not to break them. Governments, traditionally, tell people not to riot, rather than to threaten the country with them.

Still, Classic Dom and all that, as they say, whose final words to Mr Goodall were arguably the best. “You’re not a very good journalist, mate,” he says.

To which we can only ask, of the man who has thrown Ken Clarke out of the Tory party, failed to get a general election, lost every single vote in the House of Commons and has been internationally and unanimously humiliated by all 11 judges of the Supreme Court, how good do you think you are, exactly, at this political strategy stuff?

At some point, inevitably, there will be an election, and the public will have to make their minds up. Eventually, Brent liberates himself from his false idolisation of his idiot hero. The last we ever see of Finchy is the back of him, on his way into the Christmas party, and three telling words:

“Chris, f*** off.”

It may just be that the voters come to a similar conclusion.

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