More than a year since leaving Downing Street clutching his possessions in a cardboard box, Dominic Cummings has appeared in public again, recasting himself as a political speaker,
From No. 10 into a lecture hall in Darwin Building at University College London, the man who was once Boris Johnson’s chief adviser and de facto chief of staff, appeared Thursday night at a panel discussion at the Orwell Festival of Political Writing.
The subject matter, Bismarck and political power, is one with which he was quite fascinated. In fact, the former political consultant-turned-creator of long-running Twitter threads and blog posts, told an audience of about 100 that today’s politicians could learn a lot from the Iron Counsellor.
“I think Bismarck’s study can help us better select people who enter politics and who have critical roles,” he said.
Readers of his blog will be familiar with Cummings’ fascination with Otto von Bismarck, who quickly rose up in Prussian politics and orchestrated German unification in 1871, and served as its first chancellor until 1890.
Presented by the chairman of the commission as “that rare thing of being a political strategist of the first order and becoming a political player of the first order,” Cummings spoke of Bismarck’s genius and political insight. Unable to resist mentioning his former boss, he told the audience that one of Bismarck’s strengths was that he knew how to set priorities. “Now it is quite normal in politics for those at the top of power to be completely ignorant of their priorities. Back in 2020, Boris Johnson often rambled several times a day, ‘We have to save lives, we have to save the economy.’ Not week after week, nor Even day after day, sometimes several times in one meeting.
The panel discussion was part of the opening of the 2022 Orwell Festival of Political Writing.
He represents a new role as a public speaker for Cummings, who, after Downing Street, has sought to promote himself as a political commentator, Johnson’s chief critic, and extraordinarily whistleblower, happy to provide context and gossip about everything from “back door” to Carrie Johnson to morality in a nutshell. general.
His fellow panellist, Anglo-German historian Katja Heuer, previously discussed Cummings’ admiration for Bismarck.
“It is clear that Cummings seeks inspiration from the Iron Chancellor for his political work,” she wrote in The Spectator last year, noting that he quotes him frequently in his essays. She argued that Cummings’ fall from grace followed “a path somewhat similar to the Bismarckian path”.
Both were once considered indispensable lines of political wisdom. Both of them infuriated powerful enemies. Both left the position as a bitter man with giant political axes to grind,” she wrote.
She also wrote that Bismarck, like Cummings, had struggles “with the First Lady in court” and that both men considered them indispensable and “witnessed their downfall with astonishment and suspicion”.
Also speaking at the ticketed ceremony were Sir Richard Evans, Professor Emeritus of History at Cambridge University, and Gideon Rachman, Senior Foreign Affairs Commentator at the Financial Times.
Organizers said the festival, the first of its kind, opened on Wednesday and will feature “some of the most powerful thinkers and newsmakers of recent times”.
The festival culminates on July 14th with the announcement of this year’s Orwell Prize winners.
Professor Jean Seton, Director of the Orwell Foundation said: “The first Orwell Festival of Political Writing is an exciting new stage in the Orwell Foundation’s growth. The festival focuses attention on the work of all the finalists who are valued by our Journalism and Writers Awards judges. But it begins to open up difficult discussions about the things that interest to the masses.”