This likely lad is the North’s problem to fix

Say what you like about Dominic Cummings, but you’ve got to admit he’s a Northern kid.

He’s got attitude, he’s got swagger, he hates the effete London metropolitan liberal establishment.  If he’d gone into Britpop rather than Tory politics in the 1990s he could’ve been a classic Northern hero by now, reminiscing for cash on BBC4 rockumentaries.  But he did go into Tory politics, and right now he presents a genuinely mortal danger to our democracy.  So the North owns a big part of the job that needs to be done right now: getting rid of him.

Taxi for Mr Cummings

Dominic Cummings thinks he has all the trigger slogans and Facebook profiles he needs to deliver enough swing seats in the North for the Tory party to win the coming general election.  For the moment, the Trump administration and the international hedge fund billionaires believe him. What the North has to do now is not to fall for his tricks, and simply refuse to show support for the Tories.  Then the big money will quickly do the job of removing him from our lives.

This post was going to take a look at Dominic Cummings’s life story and ask the question, how did he work his way up to become Britain’s most powerful person, holding an entire country to ransom?  What exactly happened to make this ordinary Durham lad the craziest megalomaniac Britain’s seen in ages?  But in this week’s New Statesman, the job has already been done, and done well, by Harry Lambert: The Machiavel in Downing Street

The piece is well worth reading, and for what it’s worth, it seems like his parents in Durham are decent people.  Maybe it was moving from a state primary school to the posh-but-tough, private sector Durham School, in the shadow of the ancient cathedral, that taught him how to protect himself against bullying by becoming a bully himself.  Or maybe the North isn’t to blame, and something in him died when he joined the neoliberal goldrush into Yeltsin era post-Communist Russia in the 1990s.  Perhaps he saw enough criminality and cold brutality there to turn him into a nihilist.

But there comes a point where diminishing returns are hit in trying to work out whether Cummings is a toxic nutcase in good faith – a man who really believes that he will improve the country by tearing it to shreds so that he can build it back up again according to the half-baked sketches set out in his voluminous blog; or whether Cummings is a toxic nutcase in bad faith – a misanthrope who wants power for its own sake, and will burn the country down just for kicks.

There comes a point where you just think, who cares – this guy is a toxic nutcase either way, so get him out of 10 Downing Street right now.

Story time

George Monbiot tells us that if we want to make political impact, we need to stop quoting statistics and writing searing polemics, and start telling stories instead.

So here goes: a fairy tale about a cheesy night club that could be in any Northern town – a world that we know Dominic Cummings himself is well familiar with.

Klute-y Dumpling

It’s the big Friday night down at the town nite klub – let’s call it No.10’s.

A little while earlier Psycho Dom and his big daft hooray henry mate Bozzer made their dramatic entrance.  They’ve pulled some entertaining, if somewhat alarming, moves on the dance floor and have now moved to the bar.  But Dom is totally off his head on a very dangerous drug: power.  Refused another round of shots, he’s shouting the place down and is starting to smash the place up.  Very soon people are going to start getting hurt – seriously hurt.  There’s only one option for what to do: get this guy out, and fast – Route One to the exit.

Let’s add a twist to this tale.  Psycho Dom and Bozzer are actually the night club’s managers.  They’re running the place for Owd Liz, who has owned it for many years.  What are the bouncers going to do now?  He’s threatening them with the sack if they come anywhere near him.  The staff know Psycho Dom is not a man to be messed with – he sacked 21 of their colleagues just a few weeks ago.

They also know that Dom has been lying to Owd Liz.  He’s not looking after her interests at all.  He’s cut a deal with a big American boss, Don, to trash the premises and buy it for a song, and then knock it down and put up a luxury hotel for Don in its place.  There are rumours that Russian mafia money is involved.  The staff imagine there will be plenty of work for them in the fancy new place, but they know the club’s current clientele definitely won’t be invited.

So here we are, Bozzer is stumbling and mumbling around, and Psycho Dom is stood, back to the bar, waving a broken pintpot about.  “You’re all soft as shite, man.  None of yez can take me!” he yells.

There’s really only one thing to do, the clubbers themselves are going to have to take this headcase down, and get him out.

The lads from the building site, having a night out, could do it easily.  So could the big group from the call centre, celebrating a leaving do.  Even the students from the uni could do it, despite being pretty useless.  But the students are currently sat in their different cliques: Jo and Chuka’s team aren’t talking to Jez and Emily’s crew because of a dispute over who said what to whom in the gender-neutral toilets down at the student union.

If all the clubbers rushed him at once, Psycho Dom wouldn’t stand a chance.  But Dom has got a few tricks up his sleeve.  He knows the workers from the building site and the call centre take a sceptical view of the students.

“Look at these students, they’ve never done an honest day’s work in their lives!” shouts Dom.  “Are you going to let them fuck this club up with their gender-neutral toilets, eh?”

Bozzer comes up alongside Dom and starts chucking peanuts at the female students.  “Yeah!” he shouts, and then falls over.

“Look at these lot.”  Dom gesticulates towards a group of Asian-British kids who have decided to have a night out at No.10’s.  It’s their town after all, they’ve lived here all their lives.  “We NEVER used to have their sort in THIS club.”

A nasty group in the corner cheer at that remark.  It’s the Footy Lads.  They’re a sad, paunchy bunch of has-beens, their glory days of football aggro in the 1980s now long gone.  There’s only a few of them, but they still look ugly and dangerous.

“If you touch me”, yells Dom to the clubbers, “my footy mates are going to batter you and everybody else in here.  Why would you get battered for a student?  I’m on your side against them – and against them!”, turning to snarl at a young Asian-British woman.

“Jolly well looks like a jolly old pillar box” manages Bozzer, before falling over again.  A couple of the older women in the group from the call centre burst out laughing.  He’s not supposed to say that, they laugh, but you’ve got to admit, he is hilarious.

The footy lads chuck some beer and it lands on the young Asian-British woman.  She looks both frightened and angry.  The two women look nervously at each other: that wasn’t so funny.  But still, Dom and the footy lads weren’t having a go at them, and they weren’t the ones getting wet.

“Look guys, it’s like this.”  One of the students appeals to the building site lads and the call centre party.  “Dom’s not on your side, he’s trying to close this place and get all of us kicked out.  He’s really working for an American guy called Don.  They stand to make millions.”

The building site lads are listening.  “Don’t listen to that little pillock and his conspiracy theories.” warns Dom.

“And another thing,” continues the student, “this place needs to become an arts space with a vegan menu and gender-neutral toilets.”  The building site lads aren’t listening any more.

Dom senses the change of mood.  “Let’s just get this done!  Traitor students out of this club!  No fucking surrender!” he yells and boots over the students’ table full of drinks.  The footy lads launch up into a chorus of “No surrender to the IRA”.

Dom grabs one the student girls and drags her out of her seat by her hair.  “All of you students get out now, or I’m going to throw her to this lot”, he says, pointing to the footy lads.  She looks very afraid.  One of the builders mutters under his breath: “Howay man Dom, you’re going too far.”

Greta, smashing, super

Then suddenly a young girl with her hair in plaits steps up.  It’s Greta, the school exchange student from Sweden.  How the hell did she get in here?  She’s never eighteen.

“You are a bully and this has got to stop now,” she says calmly.  Dom looks wild-eyed.  He’s been challenged.

She turns to the assembled clubbers, addressing all of the tables. “You could get together and stop this right now.  Do you have the courage?  How dare you leave it to a child to do what you should be doing!  In five seconds I am going to walk up and disarm this man.  If you are all with me then we can do it easily and no-one will be hurt.  If you do not join me, I will have no future.”

5, 4, 3, 2, 1……………. What happens next?

That’s up to the people of the Northern town to decide.

Post-script: what needs to happen now

Boris Johnson needs to be removed from No.10 straight away – next week – and replaced by a caretaker government.  That Government should do three jobs:

  • Ask the EU for a long delay to Brexit so that a no deal crash-out on 31 October is avoided.
  • Put through a new, tightened up electoral law to properly defend free and fair elections, rather than relying only on traditional conventions of fair play at election time.  This means excluding foreign interference and international dark money, and ensuring that whatever Dominic Cummings plans to do on Facebook in the last few days of the campaign is anticipated, and exposed for all the country to see;
  • Organise a clean referendum and general election, perhaps to be held on the same day, observed by independent international election monitors.  If those ballots can only be held in a year’s time, so be it.  The delay will allow the country to carry on functioning, whilst everybody takes a breather and calms down.

In one way all Cummings has got up his sleeve is a few million dodgy Facebook ads, yet because he will have the Trump administration and the whole mainstream media propaganda machine behind him, defeating him is going to be a mammoth task.

It won’t be easy, it will be very hard – and it will require those who oppose Cummings to cease fighting each other, compromise, and start fighting him.

If they don’t, then he could easily win the coming general election with 35% of the vote.  And that could spell game over for British democracy.  If Cummings wins the election he will be licensed to go all-out for full-spectrum domination of the media, the internet and the government machine.  As Leigh’s Paul Mason tells us, there may not be another free and fair British election in our lifetimes.

So, the stakes are high.  But if the anti-Cummings forces can stand together to fight him, peacefully, democratically, he can be beaten at the ballot box.


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2 Responses to This likely lad is the North’s problem to fix

  1. Mark Nathan says:

    Another brilliant and alarming post from Northern Umbrella. Please keep them rolling. Yes this Cummings is a creep! But I haven’t yet read the New Statesman account – not sure I have the stomach.


  2. Paul Salveson says:

    Good stuff! Will use


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