/SIMON WALTERS on Dominic Cummings overhaul of the Civil Service

SIMON WALTERS on Dominic Cummings overhaul of the Civil Service

Brainbox Cummings (pictured) holds Whitehall's army of Sir Humphrey-style mandarins in total contempt

Brainbox Cummings (pictured) holds Whitehall's army of Sir Humphrey-style mandarins in total contempt

Brainbox Cummings (pictured) holds Whitehall’s army of Sir Humphrey-style mandarins in total contempt

It is easy to laugh at the bizarre job advert posted by Boris Johnson‘s top adviser Dominic Cummings calling for ‘super-talented weirdos’ to apply to work at No 10.

It spawned scores of spoof applications and comparisons to Ricky Gervais’s character David Brent in The Office.

Brainbox Cummings holds Whitehall’s army of Sir Humphrey-style mandarins in total contempt. He wants to replace them with a team of ‘weirdos, misfits, true wild cards and artists,’ together with maths and physics geeks, to shake up Britain as it faces its biggest change since the Second World War.

‘Mad Dom’ can expect full support from Boris Johnson, not least because it was the formula used by Mr Cummings when he masterminded the campaign that won the 2016 EU referendum and was the basis of Mr Johnson’s recent election landslide.

But there is another reason Mr Johnson will back him: it is precisely how his hero Winston Churchill won the war.

Churchill sought what he called ‘corkscrew thinkers’ – those able to think outside the box. It didn’t matter how eccentric they were, whether they played by the rules or went to the right school, as long as they had unique problem-solving skills.

Churchill was convinced it was the way to stop Hitler anticipating his next move. He even set up a unit, the ‘XX Committee’, to take charge of ‘corkscrew thinking’.

Recruiter: Boris Johnson's top special adviser Dominic Cummings (pictured days after the Tory election victory last month) wants 'super-talented weirdos' to work for him at Number 10

Recruiter: Boris Johnson's top special adviser Dominic Cummings (pictured days after the Tory election victory last month) wants 'super-talented weirdos' to work for him at Number 10

Recruiter: Boris Johnson’s top special adviser Dominic Cummings (pictured days after the Tory election victory last month) wants ‘super-talented weirdos’ to work for him at Number 10 

Churchill’s unconventional style went down no better in Whitehall than Cummings’s. Foreign Office stuffed shirts resented his treasured Special Operations Executive, dubbed the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, that carried out daring espionage raids in Europe.

Churchill’s team of ‘weirdos, misfits and wild cards’ included Alan Turing, who cracked the enigma code.

The famous Operation Mincemeat was ‘corkscrew thinking’ at its best.

In 1943, desperate to convince Hitler that he was not preparing to invade Italy from Sicily, the obvious place, Churchill had to trick him into thinking he planned to do otherwise.

The man who did it was Ewen Montagu, a barrister who joined Naval Intelligence when war broke out. 

Mr Montagu devised the audacious scheme whereby a corpse bearing secret documents was floated ashore to the Spanish coast, tricking Hitler into believing the landing would be in Greece and Sardinia. It worked and the story was told in the film The Man Who Never Was.

Not all the ideas dreamt up by Churchill’s corkscrew thinkers worked. Such as plans to convert icebergs into mid-Atlantic air bases with a runway on top, and to drop Hitler lookalikes on to occupied Greek islands to order German garrisons to surrender.

Both were rejected as too wacky by far.

The most powerful of all Churchill’s ‘weirdos and misfits’ was Brendan Bracken, his wartime right-hand man, spin doctor and troubleshooter. A very similar role to Mr Johnson’s Brexit right-hand man, Mr Cummings.

How Mr Cummings' job advert might look on a poster - calling for 'super-talented weirdos' to apply to work at Number 10

How Mr Cummings' job advert might look on a poster - calling for 'super-talented weirdos' to apply to work at Number 10

How Mr Cummings’ job advert might look on a poster – calling for ‘super-talented weirdos’ to apply to work at Number 10

Job advert: Mr Cummings setting out his plans for a Downing Street shake-up in a meandering 2,900-word post on his personal blog

Job advert: Mr Cummings setting out his plans for a Downing Street shake-up in a meandering 2,900-word post on his personal blog

Job advert: Mr Cummings setting out his plans for a Downing Street shake-up in a meandering 2,900-word post on his personal blog 

Like imposing, Geordie-born outsider Mr Cummings, volatile 6ft Irishman Mr Bracken was viewed with suspicion by the Tory Establishment.

Mr Cummings’s designer gilets, trainers and beanie hats are fashionable in the eyes of some; redhead Mr Bracken was once likened to ‘a Polynesian with dyed hair’.

Ruthless Mr Cummings had an official accused of disloyalty frogmarched out of No 10 by an armed policeman; the day Churchill entered Downing Street in 1940, Mr Bracken reportedly threatened to send a senior civil servant to Greenland unless he left immediately. He did.

Describing the early stages of their partnership, Mr Bracken said of himself and Churchill: ‘We were a party of two.’

The same could be said of Mr Johnson and his No 10 wild card and corkscrew thinker in chief, Dominic Cummings.

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