Dominic Cummings has become the Chief Special Adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He is senior to the special advisers to other ministers and can if it suits his purposes dispose of these other advisers. Cummings has become a very influential and powerful person within the present British Government. His political outlook is clearly very right wing but just what sort of rightist political ideology does he embrace?
He is quite clearly nationalist and enthusiastically took up leading the organisation and campaigning of the successful Vote Leave Campaign during the EU Referendum in 2016. He coined the slogan “Take back control” from the EU bureaucrats. Before that he had a prominent role in the campaign against Britain joining the Euro when he spoke of the “Euro threat to British democracy”.
What is more, he has frequently expressed racist sentiments. In 2003 he set up the New Frontiers Foundation which was another propaganda campaign against the EU. It spoke of a “demographic decline” in Britain at least partly brought about by “rising Muslim immigration”. Also mentioned was a “tribal movement of peoples from East to West”. During the Vote Leave Campaign the propaganda devised by him emphasised that staying in the EU would lead to the immigration into Britain of millions of Turks.
This casual attitude towards factual accuracy is a general feature of political campaigns led by Cummings. Most notorious was the slogan on the Vote Leave battle bus claiming that Britain was paying 350 million pounds a day to the EU and that this money would be better spent on the NHS. This sort of disdain for the facts was characteristic of the Nazi propaganda campaigns orchestrated by Joseph Goebbels. Cummings refused to appear before a House of Commons Select Committee investigating “false news”.
Cummings is openly contemptuous of elected politicians. In the campaign against bringing in an elected assembly for the North East of England in 2004 he promoted the slogan “Politicians talk, we pay”. He regards most Members of Parliament as trying to obstruct the introduction of populist measures favoured by most ordinary people, e.g. Brexit, immigration controls. He encouraged Boris Johnson to expel pro-EU Tory MP’s from the Conservative Party.
He is openly hostile to civil servants. Cummings thinks that we “must get away from the Whitehall idea that civil servants know best”. He told the new batch of special advisers – they are civil servants – that “You have no rights”. He sees these people as obstacles to the implementation of the sort of right libertarian policies he favours. The Civil Service, according to Cummings, is part of the Establishment which he says he wants to get rid of.
If it suits him, Cummings rides rough shod over established laws. Most notoriously, he urged Boris Johnson to prorogue the House of Commons so as to clear the way for the Tory Government to expedite leaving the EU. The Supreme Court ruled that this move was illegal, much to Cummings’ fury.
The Chief Special Adviser’s personal style leaves a lot to be desired. He is aggressive and abusive and has been physically violent with people he falls out with. He tries to overawe and demean people. He certainly believes in the triumph of his will.
It is said that Cummings regards the apparatus of the bourgeois democratic state as a hindrance rather than a help in implementing the sort of right libertarian policies he favours. Apparently he thinks that the governance of Britain would best be served if a small committee of special advisers like himself effectively made all the important decisions which have national consequences. As far as he is concerned the rest of the British state apparatus is a charade.
We must be under no illusions about the character of the British state. It is first and foremost a capitalist state which primarily serves and upholds the interests of the monopoly capitalist class. Even so, as a result of a long process of historical struggles certain civil liberties which are in the interests of the working class and middle strata have been established, e.g. the right to form trade unions. Parliament does occasionally yield to pressures to enact measures opposed by the monopoly capitalist class, e.g. Brexit. Even so, in the main it is a bastion of capitalism. But it is not the same as fascist regimes which are outright authoritarian dictatorships acting in ruling capitalist class interests where no real dissent is tolerated.
So is Dominic Cummings a fascist? In his attitudes and behaviour he embodies many of the attributes of classical fascists. He is certainly not a liberal democrat. The sort of system of government he favours would at least be highly authoritarian. Will he get the opportunity to institute such an oppressive system? Probably not unless there are radical changes in the objective conditions of British capitalism. His current position is totally dependent on the patronage of Prime Minister Boris Johnson. If he rubs Boris up the wrong way then, as Boris has demonstrated by the treatment of some of his former colleagues, Dominic’s services will quickly be disposed of. On Cummings’ past performance this outcome is fairly likely. At the same time we should recognise given that a proto-fascist can get to the heart of the British Government this bourgeois democratic system is weak. This is good provided that revolutionary minded people work to expose the present political system for what it is and take the necessary further action to undermine it.