Spartacus Blog

The Political Philosophy of Dominic Cummings

John Simkin

In an article that he published on his website on 30th October, 2015, Dominic Cummings reflected on the failure of our political elite to make accurate political predictions and solve social problems. "The processes for selecting, educating, and training those at the apex of politics are between inadequate and disastrous, and political institutions suffer problems that are very well known but are very hard to fix – there are entangled vicious circles that cause repeated predictable failure. (a) The people at the apex of political power (elected and unelected) are far from the best people in the world in terms of goals, intelligence, ethics, or competence. (b) Their education and training is such that almost nobody has the skills needed to cope with the complexity they face or even to understand the tools that might help them. Political ‘experts’ are usually hopeless at predictions and routinely repeat the same sorts of errors without being forced to learn. While our ancestor chiefs understood bows, horses, and agriculture, our contemporary chiefs (and those in the media responsible for scrutiny of decisions) generally do not understand their equivalents, and are often less experienced in managing complex organisations than their predecessors. (c) Government institutions (national and international) within which they operate, and which select people for senior positions, tend to have reliably poor performance compared with what we know humans are capable of doing. Westminster and Whitehall train people to fail, predictably and repeatedly. The EU and UN do not have the effectiveness or legitimacy we need for international cooperation." (1)

In a previous article on 16th June, 2014, he set out a long view of the failure of British elite decision-making since the 19th century. He described how the prime minister of Prussia, Otto von Bismarck, visited London in 1862 and had dinner with many of the leading British politicians of the day. Bismarck wrote to his wife about how Lord Palmerston and Lord Russell had little understanding of European politicians: "Palmerston and, to an only slightly lesser degree, Lord Russell too were in a state of complete ignorance… The British ministers know less about Prussia than about Japan and Mongolia."

Cummings believes that it was this lack of understanding that allowed Bismarck to create a Germany that was able to challenge Britain's control of Europe. According to Cummings this led to the First World War. This in turn played a role in the rise of Adolf Hitler and the outbreak of the Second World War: "A quarter of a century later, for the third time our leadership was intellectually, psychologically, and institutionally unprepared to deal with the question of deterring Germany and we tottered into another world war for which we were unprepared.... During both wars, the tactical and operational superiority of German forces was eventually outweighed by their political leaders making more big mistakes than ours did, and, thankfully, Hitler would not appoint someone like von Manstein as supreme commander." (2)

Dominic Cummings and the Conservative Party

Dominic Cummings was educated at Durham School and Exeter College, where he graduated in 1994 with a First in Ancient and Modern History. One of his professors remembers long tutorial discussions. "He was fizzing with ideas, unconvinced by any received set of views about anything... He was something like a Robespierre - someone determined to bring down things that don't work." A friend added: "He just wants to sweep rotten stuff away." (3)

After leaving Oxford University he moved to post-Soviet Russia where he attempted to make money from the fall of communism. After upsetting the KGB in 1997 he returned to England and became briefly campaign director of Business for Sterling. In 2002 he became director of strategy for the then Conservative Party leader, Iain Duncan Smith. He was seen as a "young, thrusting moderniser", but he quickly offended party traditionalists. (4)

Cummings left the job after only eight months, and writing in The Daily Telegraph, he described his feelings towards his former boss. He also outlined what he believed should be the long-term strategy for the Conservative Party: "Mr Duncan Smith is incompetent, would be a worse prime minister than Tony Blair, and must be replaced. He is, however, the symptom rather than cause of a party desperately short of the political essentials: understanding, talent, will and adaptation... There are many talented people working for the party who have been failed dismally by the leadership.... The management structure is institutionally incompetent. Their language defines them as a separatist caste rather than national representatives.... They do not understand modern society... The meltdown of the Tories has occurred in parallel with the historically necessary pre-condition for a generational shift in opinion - the practical experience of failure, of 'tax and spend', centralised public services, the EU, welfare, and 'modern' policing. In all of these areas, the Tories should be transforming conventional wisdom and building new coalitions. Instead, we have failed in every area."

Cummings went on to say that this was not an issue of right or left. "Tebbitites and some Portillistas have stuck us with a series of false dichotomies: the answer is neither 'gay candidates', 'soft on drugs', 'be nice', and 'image' - nor 'tax cuts', 'be proper Tories', or just 'whack Blair'. Success requires a synthesis of structural, policy, and communications transformation, as with all successful machines. It requires modernising communications and candidate selection - and the point is that these political techniques allow one to be tough on tax, Europe, and asylum... All parties are suffering a talent blight because the crucible of democratic society - local civil society - is being destroyed by centralisation in Westminster and the EU. In the short term, the Tories must promote young, talented MPs. In the medium term, only if local politics becomes as important as it is in America (and was here) will a democratic renaissance be catalysed and services improved, via tough local competition for money, people, and ideas." (5)

Dominic Cummings
Dominic Cummings

After a period in the wilderness, in 2007, Cummings began working for Conservative politician Michael Gove. For the first nine-months of the coalition government, Andy Coulson, David Cameron's head of communications, blocked him from being involved in the administration as he correctly believed that Cummings would not take orders from No 10. When the phone hacking scandal forced Coulson, a former editor of the News of the World, out in January 2011, Cummings was allowed to become special adviser in the Department of Education. (6)

In this position Cummings wrote an article attacking the people making political decisions: "Most politicians, officials, and advisers operate with fragments of philosophy, little knowledge of maths or science (few MPs can answer even simple probability questions yet most are confident in their judgment), and little experience in well-managed complex organisations. The skills, and approach to problems, of our best mathematicians, scientists, and entrepreneurs are
almost totally shut out of vital decisions. We do not have a problem with 'too much cynicism' - we have a problem with too much trust in people and institutions that are not fit to control so much."

Cummings suggested a series of Educational reforms that were aimed mainly at 15-25 year-olds. "An approach is suggested here based on seven broad fields with some big, broad goals. 1. Maths and complexity. Solve the Millennium Problems, better prediction of complex networks. 2. Energy and space. Ubiquitous cheap energy and opening space for science and commerce. 3. Physics and computation. Exploration beyond the Standard Model of particle physics, better materials and computers, digital fabrication, and quantum computation. 4. Biological engineering. Understanding the biological basis of personality and cognition, personalised medicine, and computational and synthetic biology. 5. Mind and machine. Quantitative models of the mind and machine intelligence applications. 6. The scientific method, education, training and decisions. Nielsen’s vision of decentralised coordination of expertise and data-driven intelligence; more ambitious and scientifically tested personalised education; training and tools that measurably improve decisions (e.g. ABMs). 7. Political economy, philosophy, and avoiding catastrophes. Replacements for failed economic ideas and traditional political philosophies; new institutions (e.g. new civil service systems and international institutions, a UK DARPA and TALPIOT (non-military), decentralised health services)." (7)

The Cummings-Gove diarchy was able to bring in free schools and increased the speed in the expansion of academies. However, he became very frustrated in his failure to bring in some of his other educational reforms. He blamed politicians and civil servants for blocking his proposals. The chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, was derided by Cummings as out of his depth and insufficiently radical. Most of all he hated the whole civil service system: “It keeps out great people, it hoards power to a small number of people who are increasingly crap. And the management of the whole thing is increasingly farcical, like that of any closed bureaucracy keeping its perks. It cannot manage public services, it cannot deal with counter-terrorism. It’s programmed to fail – and it does.” (8)

It was not long before people began complaining about his behaviour. Though in charge of the team, Cummings had "no concept of normal working hours whatsoever". He would saunter in at 2pm without explanation. He often worked hard but to his own timetable. If any official raised objections to a policy important to Cummings, they were moved out of the department. Chris Lockwood, then of the No 10 policy unit, remembers him as "awkward, abrupt, arrogant, aggressive, chronically late." (9)

In his blog Dominic Cummings claims that "My point is not ‘the DfE/Whitehall is filled with rubbish people’ – it is that Whitehall is a bureaucratic system that has gone wrong, so that duff people are promoted to the most senior roles and the thousands of able people who could do so much better cannot because of how they are managed and incentivised, hence lots of the best younger people leave and the duffers are promoted. I have been encouraged to explain the problems by many great officials particularly younger ones who are fed up of watching the farces that recur in such predictable, and avoidable, ways." He admits that one senior official told him: "You're a mutant virus and I'm the immune system." (10)

According to sources within the Department for Education, along with evidence taken from internal complaints lodged by staff on the receiving end of what many regard as an "us-and-them aggressive, intimidating culture", Gove's policy reform masks a hard-line ideological revolution. "The conduct of Cummings... has been criticised after episodes that have contributed to staff simply walking from their jobs. Two separate Fleet Street editors are alleged recently to have told Gove that he should end Cummings' reign as a special adviser for the good of the party. Gove dismissed the advice as misplaced." (11) However, after clashes with Nick Clegg and David Cameron, Cummings left office in 2014. Clegg said he had “anger management problems” whereas Cameron suggested he was a "career psychopath". (12)

As Ian Leslie of the New Statesmen has claimed that he left the school system in a state of chaos. "As adviser to Michael Gove at the Department for Education, Cummings took aim at what he believed was a cosy agreement between Whitehall bureaucrats and local councillors to make life easy for themselves at the expense of the nation’s children. He broke the grip of local authorities over schools, but left behind a fragmented non-system of independent state academies, with opaque rules and accountabilities, and no mechanism for scaling up or replicating instances of excellence." (13)

2016 European Union Referendum

In February 2016, after some hesitation, Boris Johnson endorsed Vote Leave in the "Out" campaign for the 2016 European Union membership referendum. David Cameron was shocked by his decision and stated that Johnson backed the campaign to help his career. As it has since became clear, Johnson made the move to unseat Cameron as prime minister, who stood in the way of him ever achieving the top job. Cameron has recently written that Johnson’s claims of concerns about British sovereignty were “secondary to another concern for Boris: what was the best outcome for him?” (14)

Dominic Cummings returned to power when Michael Gove managed to persuade his colleagues to appoint him as campaign director of the Vote Leave campaign. Up until this stage Cummings had not spoken out against the European Union. In fact, it is reported that he was paid €235,000 in EU subsidies as a co-owner of the the family farm. His father, Robert Cummings, denies this: "Dominic does not own any of the farmland. He has not received any of the money from the EU for it. The land is owned by us and my brothers." (15)

He created the key slogan, "Take back control", and his campaign strategy was to focus on the subject of immigration. He successfully used social media to target those working-class communities that had become disillusioned with politics. In the 1980s they knew who to blame for their plight but after they got a Labour government in 1997 they felt they continued to be ignored and stopped voting in elections, both local and national. (16)

In his memoirs, For the Record (2019), Cameron attacked Gove and Johnson for the lies they told during the referendum debate. This included what Cameron believed to be a racist campaign by focusing on Turkey and its possible accession to the EU. Cameron wrote. “It didn’t take long to figure out Leave’s obsession. Why focus on a country that wasn’t an EU member? The answer was that it was a Muslim country, which piqued fears about Islamism, mass migration and the transformation of communities. It was blatant.” Cameron emphasizes his point by claiming it echoes the explicitly racist Conservative campaign slogan used by Peter Griffiths in Smethwick in 1964: "They might as well have said: 'If you want a Muslim for a neighbour, vote remain". (17)

Cummings later explained why he used the subject of immigration in the campaign. "15 years of immigration and, recently, a few years of the migration crisis from the East and Africa, dramatically portrayed on TV and social media, had a big effect. In 2000, focus groups were already unhappy with immigration but did not regard it as a problem caused by the EU. By 2015, the EU was blamed substantially for the immigration/asylum crisis and this was entangled with years of news stories about ‘European courts' limiting action against terrorists and criminals." Cummings realised that he had to use high profile politicians like Johnson, Gove and the Labour MP, Gisela Stuart to link the subject of immigration with that of the NHS. He admitted that they would not have achieved victory if "Boris, Gove, and Gisela had not supported us and picked up the baseball bat marked ‘Turkey/NHS/£350 million'." (18)

Jenni Russell has pointed out: "He (Cummings) outwitted Britain’s establishment by combining a brilliantly simple slogan - 'Take back control' - with shameless lies about the European Union, the National Health Service and the danger that Turks could soon emigrate to Britain en masse, all backed up by a huge and hidden micro targeted social media campaign. Every element was designed to have a powerful, visceral appeal. Mr. Cummings proved that stories and lies, allied to strategic cunning, conviction, secrecy, ruthlessness and upending convention, could be much more appealing than reason and fact. Years of studying and writing obsessively about the art of strategy, the failings of most institutions and the success of revolutionary thinkers like Otto von Bismarck had paid off." (19)

The economist, Abby Innes, has pointed out that one needs to look at the people who funded the Brexit campaign: "The leaders of the financially extractive economy and those who benefit from the really-existing-supply-side-revolution demand Brexit as an opportunity to escape EU regulations that have acted as a brake on their worst excesses. ‘No deal’ for this group promises an unprecedented fire sale of UK public, corporate, and land assets. Out of the top five donors to the Leave campaign, four had made their fortunes in private equity firms. That the extreme economic purpose of Brexit has been successfully conflated with an act of national liberation from tyranny is a product of a skilful charismatic politics, a polarised social media landscape nevertheless driven by conventional media skewed ever further to the right." (20)

Cummings quoted Andrew Marr as saying in October, 2016: "I don't think we voted to leave the EU because of clever tacticians or not-quite-clever-enough pollsters, or even because Johnson decided that one of his columns was better than another. I think we voted to leave because so many British people had been left behind economically and culturally for so long, and were furious about it; and because, from the 2008 financial crisis onwards, they had accumulated so much contempt for the political elites. In these circumstances any referendum narrows down to a single question: 'Are you happy with the way things are?' The answer was 'no'." (21)

Dominic Cummings emphasized the narrative that had been promoted by the Tory press, that it was the European Union and not successive governments, that had caused their problems. As the Ipsos MORI poll pointed out: "The referendum vote revealed huge differences in voting intentions by age, class, education level and ethnicity - if anything, more apparent than that seen in the general election. Younger, more middle class, more educated and BME voters chose to remain; older, working class, less educated and white voters opted to leave... There were clear differences along party lines, but a majority of those who did not vote in the last general election choose to leave." Whereas 59% of social class AB voted to remain, 64% of DE voted to leave." (22)

Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings
Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings

Cummings was described as being the "mastermind" of this very successful campaign that resulted in the June 2016 referendum result of a 51.9% vote to "leave" the European Union. Cummings made enemies during the campaign. He was especially critical of the European Research Group of Tory MPs, who were calling for a "hard Brexit". Cummings also described Brexit Secretary David Davis as "thick as mince" and as "lazy as a toad". The BBC's political correspondent Alex Forsyth "said while he was not regarded by some as a team player or, indeed, being particularly likeable, Mr Cummings was able to marshal a team and take it with him through sheer force of personality and intellectual brilliance." (23)

Cummings later pointed out that the campaign had nothing to do with rational discussion. "I’ve learned over the years that ‘rational discussion’ accomplishes almost nothing in politics, particularly with people better educated than average. Most educated people are not set up to listen or change their minds about politics, however sensible they are in other fields. But I have also learned that when you say or write something, although it has roughly zero effect on powerful/prestigious people or the immediate course of any ‘debate’, you are throwing seeds into a wind and are often happily surprised." (24)

However, over the next few months the tactics used by Cummings came under scrutiny: "Vote Leave’s use of data analytics has been scrutinised after the Observer reported that the data-mining company Cambridge Analytica had links to the Canadian digital firm AggregateIQ, on which Vote Leave spent 40 per cent of its campaign budget. In July 2018, the Electoral Commission announced Vote Leave had been found guilty of breaking electoral law by overspending, following testimony from whistleblowers. The group was fined £61,000 and referred to the police.... In March 2019, he (Cummings) was found in contempt of parliament for refusing to appear at a committee of MPs investigating fake news". (25)

Dominic Cummings and Game Theory

Dominic Cummings was forced to look on from the sidelines as the government, headed by Theresa May, failed to negotiate a way out of the European Union. According to his blog posts it would all be so different if he was in charge. Cummings is a great fan of the mathematician, John Von Neumann, and On the Theory of Parlour Games (1928). Cummings quotes Von Neumann as saying: "Chess is not a game. Chess is a well-defined computation. You may not be able to work out the answers, but in theory there must be a solution, a right procedure in any position. Now, real games are not like that at all. Real life is not like that. Real life consists of bluffing, of little tactics of deception, of asking yourself what is the other man going to think I mean to do. And that is what games are about in my theory." (26)

Cummings points out that Von Neumman introduced "the concept of the minimax: choose a strategy that minimises the possible maximum loss." (27) Cummings argued that if the UK needed to make dramatic changes: "One of the many ways in which Whitehall and Downing Street should be revolutionised is to integrate physicist-dominated data science in decision making... There really are vast improvements possible in Government that could save hundreds of billions and avoid many disasters. Leaving the EU also requires the destruction of the normal Whitehall/Downing Street system and the development of new methods. A dysfunctional broken system is hardly likely to achieve the most complex UK government project since beating Nazi Germany." (28)

Cummings has also written on his blog about the ineffectiveness of governments. He is especially critical of politicians and civil servants who were only interested in reaching compromises. Cummings wants a different kind of government: "faster, fitter, future-focused". A young intellectual elite making decisions for us who are not held back by older and more experienced people in positions of power. The only way he could see this happening was by taking over control of the Conservative Party. As he once pointed out: "If a group of people take over a party… you could actually change an awful lot, very quickly”. (29)

The Brexit Party

In January 2019 the Brexit Party was formed. Interestingly, the same people funding the new party, were also major donors to the Conservative Party and other right-wing causes. Techtest, a company which is part of the HR Smith Group, owned by Richard Smith, gave £100,000 to the new party. As well giving considerable funds to the Tories he also provided £250,000 to Ukip, and £125,000 to "Labour Leave, the supposedly Labour Party-oriented Brexit group in the referendum (the fact Labour Leave relied on Tory donations shows it was a rather sleazy front group)." Smith has also helped to fund the headquarters of Taxpayers’ Alliance, in Tufton Street, the Whitehall address they share with other right-wing think tanks. "The Taxpayers’ Alliance are of course an 'astroturf' organisation pushing for tax cuts for the rich, slashing public spending and deregulation. So the Brexit Party looks like a continuation of this programme."

Christopher Harborne, who according to Companies House, lives in Thailand, has given the Tories over £400,000 and the Brexit Party £200,000. The new party also got £243,000 from Jeremy Hosking, a millionaire asset manager who is also a long-term Tory funder ( £100,000 for the 2015 election and £1.7m to Vote Leave for the 2016 referendum). It could be argued that big investors apparently sees the Tories, Brexit campaign and the Brexit Party as a continuum. In the words of Solomon Hughes: "It is a clear indication that the people at the centre of the party see it as a way of pulling the Tories harder to the right, and see Brexit as way of creating a fresh, neo-Thatcherite slash-and-burn of regulations and social spending." (30)

Changing the Conservative Party

When it became clear that Theresa May was not able to obtain a deal and that she would probably have to resign, membership of the Conservative Party began to increase. Cummings made an important contribution to this by communicating to those who had supported Brexit by using his huge date-base created during the campaign. A poll carried out in January 2019, showed that opinions amongst members. According to this survey "just 29% of Tory members would vote for May’s deal, compared with 64% who would vote to leave without a deal, if there was a two-option referendum." (31)

On 16th May 2019, Boris Johnson confirmed that he would stand in the forthcoming leadership election following Theresa May's anticipated resignation. By this time surveys showed that two-thirds of Conservative members wanted to exit the EU without a deal. To win the election Johnson had to promise that he was willing to support this policy. When he launched his campaign he stated: "After three years and two missed deadlines, we must leave the EU on October 31st. We must do better than the current Withdrawal Agreement that has been rejected three times by Parliament - and let me clear that I am not aiming for a no-deal outcome. I don't think that we will end up with any such thing. But it is only responsible to prepare vigorously and seriously for no deal. Indeed, it is astonishing that anyone could suggest dispensing with that vital tool of negotiation." (32)

Johnson was elected on 23rd July. The following day Dominic Cummings was appointed as Johnson's senior adviser. It soon became clear that he was the power behind the throne. Owen Jones has called him Johnson's "co-prime minister". (33) The people who were invited to join Johnson's first cabinet suggested that he was serious about a no-deal Brexit. Supporters of Brexit, like Liam Fox and Penny Mordaunt, who had raised doubts about leaving without a deal, were sacked from the Cabinet. Whereas leading figures in the party who had previously ruled out this option, such as Amber Rudd, Sajid Javid, Nicky Morgan and Matt Hancock, were given posts in return for statements that they had changed their minds. (34)

Johnson's election had a major impact on the funds of the Conservative Party. In June, a couple of weeks after Theresa May announced her resignation and therefore a likely Boris Johnson prime ministership, financial services recruitment consultant Robert Walters gave the party £200,000. A few months earlier, he announced record profits for his company which earns three quarters of its revenue abroad and told his shareholders, "our European offices performing more strongly in terms of finance and banking jobs as uncertainty over the outcome of Brexit continues." Other major donors in June included tax advisers to the super-rich, Lancaster Knox, who stands to gain much from Brexit-era Britain becoming a happy tax-planning hunting ground and offshore wealth management specialist Stephen Massey. (35)

Lubov Chernukhin, who in 2014, donated £160,000 in return for a tennis match with David Cameron and Boris Johnson. In June she provided another £200,000. Lubov, is the wife of Russian oligarch Vladimir Chernukhin. He was Putin’s deputy finance minister in the 2000s and is now a British-based investor. Over the last few years Putin-friendly businessmen are among the Conservative Party's most reliable donors. (36) Although it is Russian money going into the Tory Party, Lubov can pay the money because, according to a Tory spokesman: "Ms Lubov Chernukhin has lived in Britain for many years and is a British citizen, which gives her the democratic right to donate to a political party." (37)

Ehud Sheleg, the Israeli-born businessman, and the owner of the Halcyon Gallery, is the Conservative's largest current donor and is now the party's treasurer. He also has a senior role on the party board and is "responsible for all operational matters including: fundraising, membership and candidates". It was reported in the summer of 2018 that Sheleg's £750,000 donation made him the largest single donor to any party during a three-month period. He also handed the party £250,000 in the run-up to the 2017 general election. (38)

One of the main questions regarding the 63 year-old Israeli businessman is where his money comes from. The Halcyon Gallery, is held through an Isle of Man trust and a British Virgin Islands company, the Tov Settlement, the Sheleg family trust. It doesn't generate the kind of money that would make such large political donations feasible for a man with an expensive lifestyle to fund as well. Details of Sheleg's dubious business dealings were discovered in the "Panama Papers, a huge leaks of documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca that caused international outrage when they were published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in 2016." (39)

Private Eye has been investigating the business activities of Sheleg for some time. It discovered Sheleg's close relations with Moscow and how he became involved in a major deal with "organised-crime-connected figures in establishing a Cyprus outlet of Halcyon". The magazine also revealed that in 2009 Sheleg's company had liquidated one of its subsidiary companies (high street art chain Castle Galleries), "walking away from £4m of debts and simply carrying on the business under a new company." (40)

The following month the magazine unearthed Sheleg's earlier track record of "unfiled accounts, unpaid suppliers, investigations and VAT penalties from HM Customs and Excise, along with millions of pounds in dodged tax." As a result of his habit of dissolving companies and avoiding liabilities, a fellow businessman claimed the he had acquired the nickname "Alka Seltzer." The magazine commented: "Given a political party's onerous accounting and reporting requirements, Sheleg is certainly an interesting choice to hold the finance brief in the Tory boardroom." (41)

The Johnson-Cummings plan was to change the Conservative Party in a way that would make it difficult for "One Nation Tories" to remain in it. As Rachel Shabi has pointed out: "This is what Conservatives rebels are now facing up to: the party of conservatism and traditionalism, the self-styled party of business and status quo, has been taken over by the British wing of the Trump-and-friends franchise. A grumbling Euroscepticism, nurtured over decades, has festered into a ravaging virus and infected the entire body." (42)

Game Theory and Brexit Negotiations

Johnson had agreed to follow Cummings strategy for leaving the EU. This has been explained in some detail in his blog. His tactics included what is known as the hawk-dove or snowdrift game. Johnson prefers to call it the "chicken" game. It is a model of conflict for two players in game theory. The principle of the game is that while it is to both players’ benefit if one player yields, the other player's optimal choice depends on what their opponent is doing. The origins in a game in which two drivers drive towards each other on a collision course: one must swerve, or both may die in the crash, but if one driver swerves and the other does not, the one who swerved will be called a "chicken", meaning a coward. (43) This is one of the reasons why Johnson called Jeremy Corbyn a chicken, which was repeated in the Tory press, when he refused the offer of a general election. (44)

The Sun (5th September, 2019)
The Sun (5th September, 2019)

Cummings believes that the EU car will swerve at the last moment if it is convinced that the vehicle driven by Johnson is determined not to. Tom Chivers, who writes on Game Theory, has argued: "I realised: it was the classic application of game theory to the game of chicken. Imagine you’re playing chicken – that is, driving your car head-on towards another car. Whoever swerves first loses. What’s your best strategy? One game-theoretic answer is: you ostentatiously unscrew your steering wheel and throw it out of the window... On one level, it’s limiting your options, so it seems like a bad plan. But from your opponent’s point of view, it is a credible commitment that you are going to continue in a straight line."

Chivers points out that one flaw in this theory is that it assumes that Johnson and the EU are driving the same cars. However, if you compare the economic might of the two opponents, you could argue that one is driving a Reliant Robin and the other a EMB tank. "A no-deal Brexit will hurt the EU, but much less than it would hurt Britain, because the EU is much bigger than Britain. And there are worse outcomes for the EU, such as other countries seeing that they blinked first and trying similar strategies to get favourable deals from them. It may be that no-deal is the least bad option available for them if Britain commits to it." (45)

Johnson and Cummings used a similar strategy when dealing with Conservative MPs who were threatening to vote against the government. Johnson warned the potential rebels that if the voted in favour of taking control of the parliamentary order paper they would have the Tory whip withdrawn. This would make it impossible for them to stand for the Conservative Party in the general election that will be taking place in the next few months. In other words, their political careers would come to an end. This was similar to the tactics used by Cummings when he worked with Michael Gove to engineer the firing of David Davis as Tory chairman. Apparently, Cummings quoted Al Capone: "Find the toughest guy in the room. Embrace him like a brother. And then slam his head against the wall." (46)

Roger Gale, not one of the potential rebels, blamed Cummings for this strategy that was “in danger of tearing the party apart” and said the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservatives may have to act. “I think to have an unelected, foul-mouth oaf at the heart of Downing Street is dangerous and acceptable. The time has come for Mr Johnson to get a handle on this and have Mr Cummings frogmarched out of Downing Street, because if he doesn’t the damage is going to continue." The strategy did not work and the 21 rebels had the whip withdrawn and the government lost its majority. (47)

Cummings theory lacks an understanding of psychology. If they had backed down as a result of these threats they would have been seen as people who had put their political careers before their political principles. Nicholas Soames, the veteran Conservative MP and grandson of Winston Churchill, who was one of the rebels, commented: "In a debate in the House in 1938, Chamberlain accused my grandfather of undermining his negotiations with the Germans. I think history will prove my grandpapa to be right under the circumstances. And I think I will prove to be right.” (48) A few days later, Boris Johnson suffered a devastating blow, when his own brother, Jo Johnson, resigned as Minister of State for Transport. In his statement he said: he said. “In recent weeks I’ve been torn between family loyalty and the national interest - it’s an unresolvable tension & time for others to take on my roles as MP & Minister.” (49)

So far the tactics employed by Cummings have not worked. Instead of his opponents, both inside and outside the Conservative Party, backing-down, they have united against him. Nor are they willing to give him an election. Instead they are holding him in office but without power, in order to force him to ask the EU for an extension. He has constantly said he will not do this and suggested he would rather disobey the law than do what Parliament has instructed him to do. Or in the colourful words of Boris Johnson he would prefer to be "dead in a ditch" than ask for a delay. According to the The Daily Telegraph he is losing support in the inner-circle and a Cabinet minister has told him to back down as "Government does not break the law." (50)

The high-stakes strategy of Cummings involves creating an image of Johnson as a martyr. A man standing up for the people against the establishment in the form of Parliament and the judiciary (if Johnson loses his case at the Supreme Court next week this will only reinforce the power of this narrative). The conclusions of a team of leading QCs, which have been sent to the shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, make clear that the prime minister would be declared in contempt of court if he tried to remain in No 10 while refusing to obey legislation to prevent the UK leaving the EU without a deal on 31st October. One of the QCs who provided the unequivocal advice, Philippe Sands, stated: “If the prime minister chooses not to comply with EU (Withdrawal) No 6 Act, he will be subject to an action for contempt which could, logically and as a matter of last resort, lead to imprisonment, but that has never happened and will not happen; Britain is a rule of law country, so he will comply or leave office. All other talk is bluster, as attorney general Geoffrey Cox will already have advised him.” (51)

General Election

Taking on the might of the establishment, especially the judiciary, was the strategy of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s, but he was only a corporal in the German Army. However, he gained power by gaining the support of the middle-class rather than the working-class who were more inclined to vote for the Social Democratic Party and the Communist Party. Can a multimillionaire, old Etonian, who has experienced a life of privilege, really portray himself as a "man of the people"? The same goes for his chief lieutenant, Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Some commentators will point to the success of Donald Trump, a multimillionaire businessman, who presented himself as the "man of the people" in the 2016 Presidential Election. Clearly, a large number of working-class people voted for Trump, but the main reason why he won was a large section of the working-class vote, who had supported Bernie Sanders during the primaries, refused to vote for Hillary Clinton, as she was seen as under the control of the large corporations. Even so, given this difficult situation, Clinton, won the popular vote over Trump by 48.2% to 46.1%. (52)

Cummings showed during the EU Referendum Campaign that he could persuade low-income working-class people to vote to leave the EU. But he will find it more difficult to overcome the long standing traditions of working-class hostility to the Conservative Party in the industrial heartlands of the country. Although support for the Labour Party in these areas have been in decline in recent years, it has resulted more in abstentions than Tories increasing their vote. At the same time, Labour has been increasing its support in the big cities. (53)

This is why Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit Party, has offered Boris Johnson a no-deal Brexit election pact. Farage took out a full-page advert in The Sun and a wraparound ad in The Daily Express, setting out its terms for a hard Brexit alliance to take on tactical voting among supporters of the pro-referendum parties. Farage would pledge to give the Tories a clear run at all their existing seats and targets if the Brexit party were to get a similar deal in 80-90 constituencies. Johnson would also have to sign up unequivocally to a no-deal departure. (54)

Farage has pointed out that he can win votes in the traditional Labour heartlands, whereas because of its history, these votes are not available to the Conservative Party. Farage has presented himself as the "man of the people". In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. The son of a stockbroker, it was while being educated at Dulwich College, one of the country's most expensive private schools, he developed his strong right-wing views. He joined the Conservative Party after a visit to his school by Enoch Powell and Keith Joseph, two of the most reactionary members of the party. In 1981 one of his teachers objected to him being appointed as a prefect because of his "fascist" views. (55)

Boris Johnson is aware that if he takes up this offer he will lose the support of all those Conservatives who voted to remain (41% according to Ipsos MORI). It would be difficult to see how Tory MPs who voted to stay in the EU could also stay in the party. However, if he does not accept this deal, the Brexit vote will be split, making it virtually impossible to form a government after the next election. Johnson might well feel that with the current lead he has in the polls he does not need the support of Farage. However, although the last 12 polls give the Tories a lead over Labour, they vary enormously: Kantar (14%), ICM (11%), Opinium (10%), Ipsos-MORI (10%), YouGov (9%), ICM (7%), Hanbury (7%), BMG (6%), Salvation (5%), Panelbase (3%), Deltapoll (3%) and ComeRes (1%). However, they only have an average of less than 33% support in these polls and makes a general election a big gamble. (56)

Nor can Boris Johnson be confident that in a general election he will have the full support of the Tory press. As The Financial Times reported: "Markets are warming towards Jeremy Corbyn. Yes, you read that right. In a sign of just how unpredictable UK markets have become, analysts are starting to believe that the diehard socialist leader of the Labour Party could be just what sterling needs in this, its darkest hour." It goes on to argue that whatever the long-term implications for sterling, an ascent to power for Corbyn would likely mean “the pound would benefit if the risk of a no-deal Brexit is removed and a closer UK-EU relationship looks more likely.” (57)

The Tory journalist Peter Oborne has admitted: "When the Tory government is hit with a setback in the Commons, the value of sterling tends to rise, sometimes quite sharply. One would expect that if the markets were terrified of Jeremy Corbyn, they would fall sharply as Corbyn’s chances improved. But there is now undeniable evidence that markets are actually rising on prospects of a Corbyn government, not the reverse.... Corbyn is more mainstream than some of his political opponents allow. More to the point, I can't help but notice that Corbyn and his shadow chancellor McDonnell go down well in the City. Better by far than Boris Johnson." (58)

It has to be remembered that in the 2017 General Election the Conservative Party won 36.9% of the vote, but still could not form a majority government. What is more, the polls in the final week were suggesting they would obtain nearly 40%. Johnson and Cummings will be pleased that the Liberal Democrats are polling an average of 18% in September. They hope that this will take votes from Labour. That is unlikely to happen as the 19 top target seats (seats where they are behind their opponent by 20 points or less), just two are held by Labour. Instead, the Lib Dems pose a bigger threat to the Tories. Thirteen of their top target seats are currently held by Conservative MPs. This creates a major obstacle to the Tories’ chances of winning a majority. Ell Smith has pointed out: "In the 2015 election, just 56 seats out of 650 had a majority of less than five points; since the 2017 election, there are now 96 such seats. As a result, small swings in the popular vote can have a massive impact." (59)

As Craig Murray has argued: "Make no mistake, the Tories are in trouble. They need to pile on millions of votes in Northern English Labour constituencies before they actually start to win any, and they have thrown away existing liberal Tory support in London and southern England in order to pursue that goal. First Past the Post is very capricious, and once the leading party falls to 35% results become fickle even where there is a decent plurality. Regional concentration is actually an advantage in FPTP and in effect the Tories are in danger of evening out their support across England too much. They will certainly be down to a maximum of two seats in Scotland. They will have large losses to Labour and Lib Dems in London and the South West. All that is before we get in to the campaigning period and Jeremy Corbyn’s ability to solidify the Labour vote. So with the prorogation row, the parliamentary defeats, the lost court cases and the Yellowhammer documents, Boris Johnson was looking on sticky ground. The Labour Party had finally arrived at an apparently workable stance on Brexit: a general election followed by a second EU referendum with options of a viable deal and remain. Jeremy Corbyn, who had succeeded in helping build an opposition consensus on parliamentary tactics, has been looking in his strongest position for some time." (60)

On the surface it appears that Cummings strategy has not worked. As one journalist has pointed out. "No prime minister has had a more calamitous start. These are the opening battles of a seismic political war. Within five days, Mr. Johnson has lost control of Parliament, lost his party’s majority, lost his ability to leave the European Union at the end of October without a deal, as he has pledged, and lost the loyalty of many moderates in his Conservative Party by brutally expelling the 21 principled, thoughtful, experienced and respected members of Parliament who had opposed his plans to catapult Britain out of Europe without a deal. Mr. Cummings’s decisions have left Mr. Johnson dangling at the mercy of the opposition parties. He can’t pass any laws, and the opposition now has the power to make the crucial political decision: the date of the next election." (61)

Dominic Cummings' tactics have raised fears about his actual intentions. Some political commentators have suggested he is an anarchist who is determined to destroy the Conservative Party. Cummings has actually admitted that he is not driven by political ideology or interested in destroying political careers: "My motivation was the issue itself – not personal antipathy for Cameron or anybody else. I've never been a party person. I'm not Tory, libertarian, ‘populist' or anything else. I follow projects I think are worthwhile." (62)

If I was a member of the European Research Group (ERG) I would be worried about this post on his blog on 27th March 2019: "Those of you in the narcissist-delusional subset of the ERG who have spent the last three years scrambling for the 810 Today slot while spouting gibberish about trade and the law across SW1 - i.e exactly the contemptible behaviour that led to your enforced marginalisation during the referendum and your attempt to destroy Vote Leave - you are also in the pirate category. You were useful idiots for Remain during the campaign and with every piece of bullshit from Bill Cash et al you have helped only Remain for three years. Remember how you WELCOMED the backstop as a ‘triumph’ in December 2017 when it was obvious to everybody who knew what was going on - NOT the Cabinet obviously - that this effectively ended the ‘negotiations’? Remember how Bernard Jenkin wrote on ConHome that he didn’t have to ‘ruin his weekend’ reading the document to know it was another success for the natural party of government - bringing to mind very clearly how during the referendum so many of you guys were too busy shooting or skiing or chasing girls to do any actual work. You should be treated like a metastasising tumour and excised from the UK body politic." (63)

Boris Johnson, like most new prime ministers, received a boost in the polls. Just before Theresa May left office the Conservatives were averaging 21% in polls, with the Brexit party ahead of them on 22%; Johnson’s promise to deliver Brexit changed this. In September thus far, the Tories are on 33%, and the Brexit Party around 12%. If Johnson does not take the UK out of the EU, with or without a deal, and at the moment this seems highly unlikely, he will not only find it difficult to win a majority; he will struggle to get enough seats to form any kind of government. (64)

The sociologist William Davies, the director of the Political Economy Research Centre, has argued: "The current poll lead feels precarious; 59% of Tory members have already voted for the Brexit party once (in the European parliament elections), and many could well do so in future. The Conservatives are now to the Brexit party what cocaine is to crack: more acceptable in polite company, but ultimately made of the same stuff." (65)

On 13th September the Scottish High Court ruled that Johnson's advice to the Queen on the suspension of Parliament was unlawful because "it had the purpose of stymying Parliament." A week later the UK's Supreme Court agreed that Boris Johnson’s advice to the Queen that parliament should be prorogued for five weeks at the height of the Brexit crisis was unlawful. The unanimous judgment from 11 justices on the UK’s highest court followed an emergency three-day hearing last week. The Scottish National party’s Joanna Cherry, a barrister who was among those who challenged the prorogation in Edinburgh, was first out to give her reaction. “There is nothing to stop us, myself and my colleagues, immediately resuming the important job of scrutinising this Tory government, which has us hurtling towards Brexit,” she said. “Boris Johnson must have guts for once, and resign.” (66)

Boris Johnson of course did not resign and in the House of Commons he refused to apologise for his behaviour. Instead he went onto the attack the opposition by using the words "traitor", "surrender" and "betrayal" to describe their actions in preventing a "No Deal Brexit". The most shocking incident was Johnson's response to the claim made by Paula Sherriff, that claim in the Commons that like Jo Cox - who was killed by a man with far-right sympathies just days before the 2016 referendum - many MPs faced death threats from people using the same sort of language as the Prime Minister. Johnson dismissed her comments as "humbug" (deceptive or false talk). He then went on to telling Labour’s Tracy Brabin, who was elected to Cox’s seat following her murder “the best way to honour the memory of Jo Cox and to bring this country together is, I think, to get Brexit done”. Before her death, Cox had campaigned to remain in the EU. Her widower, Brendan Cox, swiftly condemned the prime minister’s remarks, saying it had left him feeling sick. (67)

Dominic Cummings, who was in the car that drove him to the House of Commons, is determined to continue with his "hawk-dove" strategy. Whereas the Supreme Court decision was seen as a defeat for Johnson, Cummings believes it is a victory, and feeds into his proposed narrative of the people against the ruling elite. As Hannah Arendt, a philosopher who grew up in Nazi Germany, pointed out in her book, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) that in times of crisis there is a "temporary alliance between the mob and the elite." (68) Arendt was aware that Adolf Hitler was only a front man, for the German elite. Without the funding of big business the Nazi Party would never have won power. (69)

John Heartfield, The Meaning of the Hitler Salute: Little Man Asks for Big Gifts (October, 1932) (Copyright The Official John Heartfield Exhibition & Archive)
John Heartfield, The Meaning of the Hitler Salute: Little Man Asks for Big Gifts (October, 1932)
(Copyright The Official John Heartfield Exhibition & Archive)

Cummings problem is he has to portray Boris Johnson, a millionaire Old Etonian prime minister, as the man representing the people against the ruling elite. The Daily Mail, The Daily Express and The Sun will do their best to help with this message, but is it really possible in a modern democracy to achieve this? Unlikely, but we should remember Hannah Arendt's words on the use of lies in the rise of fascism in Germany: "In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true... Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.” (70)

John Simkin (6th October, 2019)


(1) Dominic Cummings, The Hollow Men II: Some reflections on Westminster and Whitehall dysfunction (30th October, 2015)

(2) Dominic Cummings, Gesture without motion from the hollow men in the bubble, and a free simple idea to improve things a lot which could be implemented in one day (16th June, 2014)

(3) Harry Lambert, New Statesman (28th September, 2019)

(4) Frances Perraudin, The Irish Times (25th July, 2019)

(5) Dominic Cummings, The Daily Telegraph (26th October, 2003)

(6) Harry Lambert, New Statesman (28th September, 2019)

(7) Dominic Cummings, Some Thoughts on Education and Political Priorities (2113)

(8) Patrick Wintour, The Guardian (26th July, 2019)

(9) Harry Lambert, New Statesman (28th September, 2019)

(10) Dominic Cummings, Some Reflections on Westminster and Whitehall Dysfunction (30th October, 2014)

(11) James Cusick, The Independent (15th February, 2013)

(12) Patrick Wintour, The Guardian (26th July, 2019)

(13) Ian Leslie, The New Statesmen (31st July, 2019)

(14) Michael Savage and Emma Graham-Harrison, The Observer (15th September, 2019)

(15) Harry Lambert, New Statesman (28th September, 2019)

(16) Dominic Cummings, The Spectator (9th January, 2017)

(17) David Cameron, The Sunday Times (15th September, 2019)

(18) Dominic Cummings, The Spectator (9th January, 2017)

(19) Jenni Russell, The New York Times (7th September, 2019)

(20) Abby Innes, Boris Johnson: The Brezhnev Years (2nd September, 2019)

(21) Dominic Cummings, The Spectator (9th January, 2017)

(22) Ipsos MORI, How Britain voted in the 2016 EU referendum (5th September 2016)

(23) BBC News: Who is Dominic Cummings? (30th June, 2019)

(24) Dominic Cummings, The Spectator (9th January, 2017)

(25) Frances Perraudin, The Irish Times (25th July, 2019)

(26) John Von Neumann, On the Theory of Parlour Games (1928)

(27) Dominic Cummings, Complexity, Prediction, and Politics – von Neumann and Economics as a Science (11th September, 2014)

(28) Dominic Cummings, On the Referendum, the Campaign, Physics and Data Science (29th October, 2016)

(29) Ian Leslie, The New Statesmen (31st July, 2019)

(30) Solomon Hughes, The Morning Star (12th September, 2019)

(31) Rajeev Syal, The Guardian (4th January, 2019)

(32) Boris Johnson, speech (12th June 2019)

(33) Owen Jones, The Guardian (12th September, 2019)

(34) BBC: Boris Johnson: Does his cabinet reflect Modern Britain? (25th July 2019)

(35) Private Eye: 1504 (6-19th September, 2019)

(36) Solomon Hughes, The Morning Star (10th July, 2014)

(37) The Daily Mirror (1st May, 2019)

(38) Nicholas Mairs, New Tory Treasurer Hands Party £750,000 (30th August 2018)

(39) George Turner, Finance Uncovered (19th February, 2019)

(40) Private Eye: 1490 (22nd February - 7th March 2019)

(41) Private Eye: 1492 (22nd February - 7th March 2019)

(42) Rachel Shabi, The Guardian (3rd September, 2019)

(43) Martin J Osborne and Ariel Rubinstein, A Course in Game Theory (1994) page 30

(44) Martyn Brown, The Daily Express (7th September, 2019)

(45) Tom Chivers, Dominic Cummings is no Chicken (30th August 2019)

(46) Simon Jenkins, The Guardian (29th September, 2019)

(47) Jessica Elgot, The Guardian (4th September, 2019)

(48) Washington Post (5th September, 2019)

(49) The Evening Standard (5th September, 2019)

(50) Anna Mikhailova, The Daily Telegraph (12th September, 2019)

(51) The Guardian (7th Septermber, 2019)

(52) New York Times (9th November, 2016)

(53) Michael Savage, The Guardian (22nd September, 2018)

(54) Rowena Mason, The Guardian (11th September, 2019)

(55) Michael Crick, Channel 4 News (19th September, 2013)

(56) Mark Pack, Latest UK General Election Opinion Polls (13th September, 2019)

(57) Katie Martin, The Financial Times (4th September, 2019)

(58) Peter Oborne, Middle East Eye (11th September, 2019)

(59) Ell Smith, The Guardian (13th September, 2019)

(60) Craig Murray, The Dogs in the Street Know (12th September, 2019)

(61) Jenni Russell, The New York Times (7th September, 2019)

(62) Dominic Cummings, The Spectator (9th January, 2017)

(63) Dominic Cummings, On the Referendum: Actions have Consequences (27th March 2019)

(64) Mark Pack, Latest UK General Election Opinion Polls (13th September, 2019)

(65) William Davies, The Guardian (1st October, 2019)

(66) The Guardian (24th September, 2019)

(67) Nicola Bartlett, The Daily Mirror (26th September, 2019)

(68) Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) page 427

(69) James Pool, Who Financed Hitler: The Secret Funding of Hitler's Rise to Power (1979) pages 138-141

(70) Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) pages 428

Previous Posts

The Political Philosophy of Dominic Cummings and the Funding of the Brexit Project (15th September, 2019)

What are the political lessons to learn from the Peterloo Massacre? (19th August, 2019)

Crisis in British Capitalism: Part 1: 1770-1945 (9th August, 2019)

Richard Sorge: The Greatest Spy of the 20th Century? (29th July, 2020)

The Death of Bernardo De Torres (26th May, 2019)

Gas Masks in the Second World War killed more people than they saved (9th May, 2019)

Did St Paul and St Augustine betray the teachings of Jesus? (20th April, 2019)

Stanley Baldwin and his failed attempt to modernise the Conservative Party (15th April, 2019)

The Delusions of Neville Chamberlain and Theresa May (26th February, 2019)

The statement signed by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (20th January, 2019)

Was Winston Churchill a supporter or an opponent of Fascism? (16th December, 2018)

Why Winston Churchill suffered a landslide defeat in 1945? (10th December, 2018)

The History of Freedom Speech in the UK (25th November, 2018)

Are we heading for a National government and a re-run of 1931? (19th November, 2018)

George Orwell in Spain (15th October, 2018)

Anti-Semitism in Britain today. Jeremy Corbyn and the Jewish Chronicle (23rd August, 2018)

Why was the anti-Nazi German, Gottfried von Cramm, banned from taking part at Wimbledon in 1939? (7th July, 2018)

What kind of society would we have if Evan Durbin had not died in 1948? (28th June, 2018)

The Politics of Immigration: 1945-2018 (21st May, 2018)

State Education in Crisis (27th May, 2018)

Why the decline in newspaper readership is good for democracy (18th April, 2018)

Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party (12th April, 2018)

George Osborne and the British Passport (24th March, 2018)

Boris Johnson and the 1936 Berlin Olympics (22nd March, 2018)

Donald Trump and the History of Tariffs in the United States (12th March, 2018)

Karen Horney: The Founder of Modern Feminism? (1st March, 2018)

The long record of The Daily Mail printing hate stories (19th February, 2018)

John Maynard Keynes, the Daily Mail and the Treaty of Versailles (25th January, 2018)

20 year anniversary of the Spartacus Educational website (2nd September, 2017)

The Hidden History of Ruskin College (17th August, 2017)

Underground child labour in the coal mining industry did not come to an end in 1842 (2nd August, 2017)

Raymond Asquith, killed in a war declared by his father (28th June, 2017)

History shows since it was established in 1896 the Daily Mail has been wrong about virtually every political issue. (4th June, 2017)

The House of Lords needs to be replaced with a House of the People (7th May, 2017)

100 Greatest Britons Candidate: Caroline Norton (28th March, 2017)

100 Greatest Britons Candidate: Mary Wollstonecraft (20th March, 2017)

100 Greatest Britons Candidate: Anne Knight (23rd February, 2017)

100 Greatest Britons Candidate: Elizabeth Heyrick (12th January, 2017)

100 Greatest Britons: Where are the Women? (28th December, 2016)

The Death of Liberalism: Charles and George Trevelyan (19th December, 2016)

Donald Trump and the Crisis in Capitalism (18th November, 2016)

Victor Grayson and the most surprising by-election result in British history (8th October, 2016)

Left-wing pressure groups in the Labour Party (25th September, 2016)

The Peasant's Revolt and the end of Feudalism (3rd September, 2016)

Leon Trotsky and Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party (15th August, 2016)

Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of England (7th August, 2016)

The Media and Jeremy Corbyn (25th July, 2016)

Rupert Murdoch appoints a new prime minister (12th July, 2016)

George Orwell would have voted to leave the European Union (22nd June, 2016)

Is the European Union like the Roman Empire? (11th June, 2016)

Is it possible to be an objective history teacher? (18th May, 2016)

Women Levellers: The Campaign for Equality in the 1640s (12th May, 2016)

The Reichstag Fire was not a Nazi Conspiracy: Historians Interpreting the Past (12th April, 2016)

Why did Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst join the Conservative Party? (23rd March, 2016)

Mikhail Koltsov and Boris Efimov - Political Idealism and Survival (3rd March, 2016)

Why the name Spartacus Educational? (23rd February, 2016)

Right-wing infiltration of the BBC (1st February, 2016)

Bert Trautmann, a committed Nazi who became a British hero (13th January, 2016)

Frank Foley, a Christian worth remembering at Christmas (24th December, 2015)

How did governments react to the Jewish Migration Crisis in December, 1938? (17th December, 2015)

Does going to war help the careers of politicians? (2nd December, 2015)

Art and Politics: The Work of John Heartfield (18th November, 2015)

The People we should be remembering on Remembrance Sunday (7th November, 2015)

Why Suffragette is a reactionary movie (21st October, 2015)

Volkswagen and Nazi Germany (1st October, 2015)

David Cameron's Trade Union Act and fascism in Europe (23rd September, 2015)

The problems of appearing in a BBC documentary (17th September, 2015)

Mary Tudor, the first Queen of England (12th September, 2015)

Jeremy Corbyn, the new Harold Wilson? (5th September, 2015)

Anne Boleyn in the history classroom (29th August, 2015)

Why the BBC and the Daily Mail ran a false story on anti-fascist campaigner, Cedric Belfrage (22nd August, 2015)

Women and Politics during the Reign of Henry VIII (14th July, 2015)

The Politics of Austerity (16th June, 2015)

Was Henry FitzRoy, the illegitimate son of Henry VIII, murdered? (31st May, 2015)

The long history of the Daily Mail campaigning against the interests of working people (7th May, 2015)

Nigel Farage would have been hung, drawn and quartered if he lived during the reign of Henry VIII (5th May, 2015)

Was social mobility greater under Henry VIII than it is under David Cameron? (29th April, 2015)

Why it is important to study the life and death of Margaret Cheyney in the history classroom (15th April, 2015)

Is Sir Thomas More one of the 10 worst Britons in History? (6th March, 2015)

Was Henry VIII as bad as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin? (12th February, 2015)

The History of Freedom of Speech (13th January, 2015)

The Christmas Truce Football Game in 1914 (24th December, 2014)

The Anglocentric and Sexist misrepresentation of historical facts in The Imitation Game (2nd December, 2014)

The Secret Files of James Jesus Angleton (12th November, 2014)

Ben Bradlee and the Death of Mary Pinchot Meyer (29th October, 2014)

Yuri Nosenko and the Warren Report (15th October, 2014)

The KGB and Martin Luther King (2nd October, 2014)

The Death of Tomás Harris (24th September, 2014)

Simulations in the Classroom (1st September, 2014)

The KGB and the JFK Assassination (21st August, 2014)

West Ham United and the First World War (4th August, 2014)

The First World War and the War Propaganda Bureau (28th July, 2014)

Interpretations in History (8th July, 2014)

Alger Hiss was not framed by the FBI (17th June, 2014)

Google, Bing and Operation Mockingbird: Part 2 (14th June, 2014)

Google, Bing and Operation Mockingbird: The CIA and Search-Engine Results (10th June, 2014)

The Student as Teacher (7th June, 2014)

Is Wikipedia under the control of political extremists? (23rd May, 2014)

Why MI5 did not want you to know about Ernest Holloway Oldham (6th May, 2014)

The Strange Death of Lev Sedov (16th April, 2014)

Why we will never discover who killed John F. Kennedy (27th March, 2014)

The KGB planned to groom Michael Straight to become President of the United States (20th March, 2014)

The Allied Plot to Kill Lenin (7th March, 2014)

Was Rasputin murdered by MI6? (24th February 2014)

Winston Churchill and Chemical Weapons (11th February, 2014)

Pete Seeger and the Media (1st February 2014)

Should history teachers use Blackadder in the classroom? (15th January 2014)

Why did the intelligence services murder Dr. Stephen Ward? (8th January 2014)

Solomon Northup and 12 Years a Slave (4th January 2014)

The Angel of Auschwitz (6th December 2013)

The Death of John F. Kennedy (23rd November 2013)

Adolf Hitler and Women (22nd November 2013)

New Evidence in the Geli Raubal Case (10th November 2013)

Murder Cases in the Classroom (6th November 2013)

Major Truman Smith and the Funding of Adolf Hitler (4th November 2013)

Unity Mitford and Adolf Hitler (30th October 2013)

Claud Cockburn and his fight against Appeasement (26th October 2013)

The Strange Case of William Wiseman (21st October 2013)

Robert Vansittart's Spy Network (17th October 2013)

British Newspaper Reporting of Appeasement and Nazi Germany (14th October 2013)

Paul Dacre, The Daily Mail and Fascism (12th October 2013)

Wallis Simpson and Nazi Germany (11th October 2013)

The Activities of MI5 (9th October 2013)

The Right Club and the Second World War (6th October 2013)

What did Paul Dacre's father do in the war? (4th October 2013)

Ralph Miliband and Lord Rothermere (2nd October 2013)