Is it too much to hope that politicians and civil servants, when they’re not busy using the Leinster House internet resource for essential research on high-end sex dolls, Germany’s gay demi-monde, lingerie, horse racing, and gambling, might turn their attention to what could be at work in the mind of Dominic Cummings?
He is the political strategist credited with the wholly unanticipated success of the Vote Leave campaign in the UK’s 2016 referendum. Now Boris Johnson’s special adviser in charge of secession planning, his will be a mind of interest — as the police might have it — to politicians in Dublin and other EU capitals as they think about the diminishing number of moves left to be played on the Brexit chessboard.
They will find Mr Cummings has been generous in assisting them. From his huge blog entries, researchers have produced a list of the people whose lives and work have shaped his ideas and methods.
They include Otto von Bismarck — described as a “diabolical genius”— T S Eliot, Warren Buffett, and Philip Tetlock, a North American academic whose scientific study of error in forecasting, says Cummings, concluded that “the average expert was no more accurate than the proverbial dart-throwing chimp on many questions”.
Significantly, the Chinese warrior Sun Tzu (c 544-496BC) is rated highly by the man summed up by David Cameron as a “career psychopath”. Sun Tzu’s The Art of War — mandatory reading for US Marine Corps officers — emphasises the crucial importance of speed and doing the unexpected in perplexing, unsettling, and overpowering an enemy. But this advice might be of limited value to Mr Cummings. Unlike Sun Tzu, he has told his opponents what the plan is.