Sketch: Dominic Cummings is hiring weirdos
Christmas is over and with it, the shaky festive truce struck up across UK politics has ended. The new year passed and it’s time to get back to work. To put away the Christmas films. Pack up the boardgames. Clear away the fetid dead fox remains, put the kimono in the wash and hang up the baseball bat.
With any luck, this will have been a period of reflection for everyone in British politics. For conciliation. For peace. For everyone to stop beating foxes to death then taking to the internet to boast of their deeds. On Boxing Day.
No, this is a chance to move forward and make new plans for the future. For new starts. Even, if Dominic Cummings has his way, for new jobs. Yes, that’s right, a new opportunity has arisen: the UK Government is hiring.
Now, for anyone unfamiliar with Dominic Cummings, he’s the man credited with orchestrating the campaign to leave the EU, who is now senior special adviser to the PM. A man who sees himself as Machiavelli but looks like a raisin. Or a harassed peanut. That’s basically everything you need to know.
Hmmmm, no public-school bluffers? Maybe should have run that one by the boss there, Dom
And, as he explained, in launching the recruitment campaign through his own personal blog: “We want to hire an unusual set of people with different skills and backgrounds to work in Downing Street with the best officials, some as spads and perhaps some as officials.”
So far, so good. So, who is he looking for, then? Policy experts? Researchers? Translators?
Well, no, not really. In this case, his main aim is to find “weirdos and misfits with odd skills”.
Now, obviously, the first conclusion to this is that Cummings is getting civil service recruitment confused with assembling a team of superheroes, but it is probably worth hearing him out. “We need some true wild cards, artists, people who never went to university and fought their way out of an appalling hellhole,” he wrote. “Weirdos from William Gibson novels like that girl hired by Bigend as a brand ‘diviner’ who feels sick at the sight of Tommy Hilfiger or that Chinese-Cuban free runner from a crime family hired by the KGB.”
Wait, what was that about weirdos from William Gibson novels? That girl who does what? He wants to hire more Chinese-Cuban free runners? For the Treasury or something?
The most confusing bit is the idea someone could be working in politics and come to the conclusion there are too few weirdos
It made no sense. We needed answers, and fortunately, Cummings was at hand. In fact the blog is about nine million words long.
He said: “If you want to figure out what characters around Putin might do, or how international criminal gangs might exploit holes in our border security, you don’t want more Oxbridge English graduates who chat about [French psychoanalyst Jacques] Lacan at dinner parties with TV producers and spread fake news about fake news.”
So we don’t want people who make obscure references to Lacan, but we do want people who understand that Gibson reference. It didn’t make a huge amount of sense.
But actually, the most confusing bit is the idea someone could be actively working in politics and come to the conclusion there are too few weirdos.
If he needed weirdos, he should have known where to look. Scottish politics is overrun with weirdos. We are overstocked, if anything. Our cup runneth over. We have so many weirdos, we don’t know what to do with them. If it’s weirdos he wants, he only needed to ask.
But, while it’s easy to sneer – it really is very easy – maybe Cummings is right. Maybe it is time for a shakeup, even if the wonderful new opportunities don’t seem to bring much job security. Or, as he chose to put it, around 50,000 words into the babbling: “I’ll bin you within weeks if you don’t fit — don’t complain later because I made it clear now.”
And, of course, that is how employment law works. No backsies. You were warned, so you can’t complain. In fact, the word ‘bin’ features a surprising amount in the ad – it is second only to ‘weirdo’ – with Cummings explaining that anyone found guilty of playing “office politics” will also be sacked. Or as he put it: “You will be discovered and immediately binned.”
“I don’t want confident public-school bluffers,” Cummings said. “I want people who are much brighter than me who can work in an extreme environment.”
Hmmmm, no public-school bluffers? Maybe should have run that one by the boss there, Dom. Sadly, though, it was too good to be true, with things taking a disappointing turn with the news that Cummings isn’t actually in charge of civil service recruitment. Apparently, the UK Government doesn’t usually advertise highly sensitive advisory roles using a made-up sounding Google email address as a contact, in large part because, aside from Cummings, the only people who do that are internet fraudsters, using far-fetched nonsense to trick you into handing them large sums of money.
But that’s probably just a coincidence.