Boris Johnson’s controversial adviser Dominic Cummings has paved the way for a massive civil service shake-up by publicly inviting “weirdos and misfits with odd skills” to apply for jobs in Downing Street.
On the day the PM’s Tory manifesto author promised “seismic” changes in Whitehall, Mr Cummings launched a drive to recruit people with a wide range of skills from outside the civil service to work in Number 10.
Writing on his personal blog, as well as appealing for specialists like economists, policy experts, project managers and communications experts, Mr Cummings also says he wants to attract “super-talented weirdos”.
The blog, which will cause consternation among Whitehall mandarins but delight the PM’s pro-Brexit allies, is headed: “We’re hiring data scientists, project managers, policy experts, assorted weirdos…”
Fiercely critical of pubic schools and Oxbridge, it was posted just hours after Tory strategist Rachel Wolf claimed that under the Cummings shake-up, civil servants could be forced to sit regular exams to prove they are competent to work in Whitehall.
Mr Cummings begins his blog by declaring: “There are many brilliant people in the civil service and politics. Over the past five months the No10 political team has been lucky to work with some fantastic officials.
“But there are also some profound problems at the core of how the British state makes decisions. This was seen by pundit-world as a very eccentric view in 2014. It is no longer seen as eccentric.
“Dealing with these deep problems is supported by many great officials, particularly younger ones, though of course there will naturally be many fears – some reasonable, most unreasonable.”
Mr Cummings says Brexit requires many large changes in policy and in the structure of decision-making – and claims a new government with a significant majority has little need to worry about short-term unpopularity while trying to make rapid progress with long-term problems.
He writes: “We want to hire an unusual set of people with different skills and backgrounds to work in Downing Street with the best officials, some as spads (special advisers to ministers) and perhaps some as officials.
“If you are already an official and you read this blog and think you fit one of these categories, get in touch.”
He says the categories he wants to recruit are:
- Data scientists and software developers
- Policy experts
- Project managers
- Communication experts
- Junior researchers – “one of whom will also be my personal assistant”
- “Weirdos and misfits with odd skills”
He adds: “We want to improve performance and make me much less important – and within a year largely redundant.”
Of his ideal personal assistant, Cummings says they “will sacrifice many weekends” and that “frankly it will be hard having a boy/girlfriend at all”.
And he warns: “I don’t want confident public school bluffers. I want people who are much brighter than me who can work in an extreme environment. If you play office politics, you will be discovered and immediately binned.”
Mr Cummings also reveals plans for a major shake-up in government communications with the media, which currently includes twice-day Number 10 briefings for political journalists, known as lobby correspondents.
“We’re particularly interested in deep experts on TV and digital,” he writes.
“We also are interested in people who have worked in movies or on advertising campaigns.
“There are some very interesting possibilities in the intersection of technology and storytelling – if you’ve done something weird, this may be the place for you.”
Mr Cummings adds: “I noticed in the recent campaign that the world of digital advertising has changed very fast since I was last involved in 2016.
“This is partly why so many journalists wrongly looked at things like Corbyn’s Facebook stats and thought Labour was doing better than us – the ecosystem evolves rapidly while political journalists are still behind the 2016 tech.
“The digital people involved in the last campaign really knew what they are doing, which is incredibly rare in this world of charlatans and clients who don’t know what they should be buying.
“If you are interested in being right at the very edge of this field, join.”
And in a section headed “super-talented weirdos”, Mr Cummings says Whitehall needs “some true wild cards, artists, people who never went to university and fought their way out of an appalling hell hole”.
He adds: “If you want to figure out what characters around Putin might do, or how international criminal gangs might exploit holes in our border security, you don’t want more Oxbridge English graduates who chat about Lacan at dinner parties with TV producers and spread fake news about fake news.”
Concluding by inviting a one-page letter and CV, Mr Cummings insists applicants must commit to at least two years to the job and warns: “I’ll bin you within weeks if you don’t fit – don’t complain later because I made it clear now.”