Cumming Across Badly

Cumming Across Badly

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Be calm. Be respectful. Be careful with the facts. You’ve all done your Select Committee training and this is what you were told right? Well Dominic Cummings, former special adviser to Michael Gove and now head of the Vote Leave campaign, took a very different approach to his appearance before the Treasury Committee this week. “accuracy,” he told startled members, “is for snake oil pussies” during perhaps the most extraordinary Select Committee appearance since the Maxwell Brothers turned up and refused to answer a single question in 1992. The Treasury, people who were his colleagues until recently remember, are “charlatans” and the pro-EU consensus is akin to the appeasement of Hitler, he went on. To top it all off, he then proceeded to complain that he didn’t have time for this appearance and tried showing Members his diary to illustrate how busy he was.

Some of this is just Westminster Village stuff, but it does betray a bigger risk for Leave – that they appear like the ‘angry man in the room’, a snarling, aggressive presence who only appeal to those who already agree with them. And as everyone who has done presentational training (not Cummings evidently) knows, those people are seldom the most trusted by middle England. Both sides are struggling to present a positive face during what is turning into an increasingly acrimonious dispute. If the British people are to survive the next two months without dying of boredom, let’s hope we hear the vision piece soon