The Great Durham Swindle

I was once told by a Liverpool author that the difference between the UK and the USA when it came to power is that while in the US power came from wealth in the UK, power came from privilege.

This side of the Irish Sea, the current narrative rings true with the unelected advisor to the current government: Dominic Cummings.

Julien Temple’s flawed but at times brilliant ‘The Great Rock ‘n Roll Swindle’ springs to mind. The Sex Pistols under the management of Malcolm McLaren rode the zeitgeist of 1970’s Britain, a nation mired in strikes, debt to the IMF, and hopelessness which spawned the Punk Rock wave that shook up the music industry.

McLaren was media savvy, clued in, manipulative, but above all; not only recognised but tapped into the nihilist mindset of the disaffected.

Cummings’ ability to harvest data and twist the narrative into ‘Take back control’ too tapped into the disaffected and brought about three torturous years of BREXIT. His own Punk wave. His own following, his own ThinkSpeak.

Now all he needed was a Jonny Rotten or Sid Vicious, cue Boris Johnston. Rotten was too smart, too intelligent, and fought McLaren at every opportunity, but then there was Sid. Sid was the clothes horse for McLaren the puppet on the string. Sid did everything McLaren wanted and he above all became the picture boy of tearing down the establishment. Sid needed McLaren, Sid suited McLaren’s narrative.

Johnston is Sid. His dream, his wish to become PM, and be viewed in history as the man who ‘Saved England’ is tied inextricably in with Cummings. Dazzled by the limelight Boris Johnston is a bastard child of the media, not only that but the entire establishment’s 4th estate. Like the Pistols, Cummings has molded a bunch of clothes horses to peddle his message in the form of the current government.

Johnston has achieved power through privilege; the right background, the right upbringing, and the right sort of education the Tory party is built on.

The party that is in power.

It's no secret that Cummings is resentful, snide, and dismissive of everyday norms, be it politics, ethics, or the well being of the nation. He pushed for the ‘Herd mentality’ which Johnston mouthed on morning TV - ‘wash through the population’ which has resulted in 40 000 deaths to date.

When Emily Maitlis had the audacity to call out Johnston, and the Government, Cummings ensured the BBC toed the line and she was stood down for being ‘off message’ with the plan.

Tear up the rule book, tear up the establishment and follow the plan argues Cummings

(if there even is one)

But if there’s that McLaren moment – its Cummings’s jaunts to Durham and Barnard Castle that best sums up the Swindle – his bizarre press conference in the back garden of Number 10 without a hint of remorse or understanding of the sacrifice made by everyday citizens; people dying alone in ICUs with only a facetime moment. NHS staff depleted of the most basic PPE dying like the first wave over the top of the trench removing an entire stratum of know-how with only lip service and applause from Johnston.

Cummings has made no secret that he doesn’t give a fuck. The rules don’t apply to him, because at Oxford he tore them all up in his head.

Johnston is pathologically lazy, like Sid utterly inept at his role and painfully obvious at the daily briefings that someone else is off-stage playing the bass. He blinks like a rabbit in the vivisection cage, desperately glancing off-camera for Cummings’s approval.

McLaren got bored the Sex Pistols, cashed the cheque from EMI (where the movie gets its name), and went on to peddle other projects and kept on rolling in filthy lucre. Which raises the question of what happens to Johnston when Cummings gets bored?

Its all so pretty vacant in the UK.

… and they don’t care!


Agreed. Also brings to mind the debates about rationing during the second world war. For the first (and only) time, upper class Etonians like Johnston were pilloried for breaking the rules. We're not that far from the 1950's mentality of an Eton educated yahoo emerging from a smoke-filled backroom to take the job of PM. Hence Johnson fits the mould. Ironically, with Keir Stammer (Sir) leader of the oppositon, he can no longer get away with winking at the media and saying off camera this is what you'll get. Stammer is one of them. Boris is already being hammered. He's past his peak and it's not even Christmas when the British folly of Brexit kicks in and takes another 10% off a failing and depressed British economy. He's fucked. Alleluia.