In my previous blog post about Stephen Twigg getting the chop, I made reference to Michael Gove’s advisor Dominic Cummings. Well today news has been confirmed.
Dominic Cummings, who, under Education Secretary Michael Gove, was blamed by civil servants for creating an “us-and-them, aggressive, intimidating culture” within his department, will quit his post by the year’s end.
He has proved to be one of the most divisive figures in Whitehall, with the Department for Education’s attempts to slim down its workforce by 1,000 people leading to one senior official saying “DfE probably now stands for Dump F***ing Everyone”.
He is not above using similar colourful language himself – as highlighted by an internal grievance report prepared for a tribunal. In the document, the complainant said that exchanges with Mr Cummings were “more reminiscent of an episode of ‘The Thick Of It’ than a reflection of acceptable behaviour of employees of the Department for Education”.
He has also previously been blamed for leaking details of a private meeting about policy failures held by Mr Gove with the Prime Minister and the Chancellor. Anger over his rumoured indiscretion led to him being vetoed for the post of a special adviser to Gove by the then Downing Street chief of press Andy Coulson.
Mr Cummings came to work with Mr Gove after serving at the New Schools Network charity, set up to help with applications by parents and local groups to set up free schools. He quickly gained a reputation as a ruthless and passionate advocate of Mr Gove’s education reforms, crossing swords with those who have criticised the plans, suggesting that journalists scrutinising policy are either lying or in need of mental health treatment. Complaining about a comment article in The Independent which said the paper had incurred his “wrath”, Mr Cummings wrote that paper was treating him as badly the Financial Times’ education correspondent, Chris Cook…
Last night Mr Cummings told The Independent he was planning to leave his job to give time to prepare a successor for the role. He said he had not yet decided what to do next but was interested in helping free schools and getting involved in other educational developments “outside politics”. Mr Cummings, if you get involved in any form of educational development you will be involved in politics. Do you not realise that education is the lifeblood of most political debates? I sure hope you don’t set up a free school near my neck of the woods, I wouldn’t want my children going to a school run by someone who uses colourful language. I don’t want my children picking that up and using it. (I must add here that I’m thinking retrospectively, I don’t actually have kids yet.)