PHOTOGRAPHS of Tory political aide Dominic Cummings show him dressed like a middle-aged teenager. A recent one captured his arse hanging out of his jeans.
This is true and not an attempt at satire, as we seem to be living in the Land That Satire Forgot.
Once the great cartoonist Steve Bell could portray John Major with his Y-fronts on over his trousers, Superman-style, and we could all laugh. Now the most influential man in the country can scuttle into Downing Street while giving his cheeks a public airing and our eyelids remain unbatted.
Cummings can’t see something without wishing to smash it up.
We’ve all had bosses like that, whizz-kids who blow in to tell the was-kids why they’re wrong about everything.
The ‘decision’ to move the House of Lords to York sounds like a Cummings plan: good headlines, a nod to the north, and yet impractical and never likely to happen.
Whatever you think of having a non-elected second chamber, the Commons and the Lords work together, and shoving one House 200 miles away in York is plain daft. And I live here and love the place.
Cummings has long disliked the BBC. No surprise then that when director general Tony Hall said he was off Cummings’s tail was up (perhaps it could be seen at the back of those jeans undone by gravity).
As long ago as 2004, his think-tank, the New Frontiers Foundation (yawn) called for an end to the BBC in its current form. He also said the Beeb was a “mortal enemy” of the Tory Party.
As we know to our undying cost, the Tories won the election, and the right has for too long been winning the cultural war, shoving all debate in a narrow frame.
That was one problem with Jeremy Corbyn (hasn’t he gone yet?): whenever the Tories went low, Corbyn sighed and looked disdainful, saying that he wouldn’t be playing that game. And look where that got him and us.
Anyway, the BBC. When it was announced that Hall was going, ITV’s Robert Peston tweeted that Cummings and prime minister Boris Johnson wanted a say in who would be the next director general.
Downing Street backtracked a little from that position, although Peston did pass on the thoughts of “a well-placed Downing Street source” (quite possibly one with his arse hanging out of his jeans).
Below is what Peston wrote in his TV blog… For clarity, David Clementi is the chairman of the BBC, and James Purnell used to be a Labour minister and is now BBC’s director of radio.
“…if the BBC’s board and Clementi try to put someone like Purnell in [as DG], we will put in a chairman whose first job is to fire him… The likes of Purnell [would be] ‘dead on arrival’.”
How reassuring to discover that Downing Street sources talk like Mafia dons.
The BBC is rarely out of the headlines. This morning those headlines concern the shocking decision to drop the much-admired Victoria Derbyshire current affairs show.
The Guardian’s leader sees this move as a direct result of an “orchestrated campaign by politicians, corporate rivals and the right wing think tanks – in a war against the BBC”.
And long-delayed payback for George Osborne’s dodgy footwork as Chancellor, when he forced the BBC to pay for free TV licences for the over-75s – in effect a huge cut to the BBC.
That argument doesn’t wash in the Sun, which accuses the corporation of axing the programme “because the more visible the cut, the easier it is for luvvies to pretend that the BBC is the blameless victim of evil Tory austerity”.
Almost unnecessary footnote: the Sun is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who has spent much of his long life denigrating the BBC and pouring poison into the ears of receptive Tory ministers.
Incidentally, dismissing those at the BBC as “luvvies” is a small but typical example of that all-out cultural war, conducted with a yobbish sneer.
The licence fee may be an anachronism, but it gives the BBC independence. And while the BBC isn’t perfect, I don’t resent a penny of that fee.
And Dominic Cummings and his accidental behind should be kept out of the BBC’s business.