Dominic Cummings’s, the prime minister’s special adviser, call for weirdos, scientists and programmers is a breath of fresh air and could, perhaps, really spark a flame of diversity in a place known for its drab intake of talent.
Although his blog posted job advert has been mocked and forensically criticised – perhaps correctly, as, for example, he did unwisely welcome applications via Gmail (not the most secure) – I believe it is a welcome break from traditionalism and conservatism. Cummings cites a need for ‘genuine cognitive diversity’ as a response to the heavy intake of Oxbridge PPE (politics, philosophy and economics) graduates in Whitehall. Most of whom, by the way, are white and male. Thus, with Cummings’s wide search for talent, women and other underrepresented groups in Westminster are likely to feature more prominently in this team of ‘misfits,’ simply by dint of a wider search for individuals who occupy different fields.
Cummings, in his recruitment post, not only seeks graduates but also people who are ‘artists,’ and ‘people who never went to university and fought their way out of an appalling hell hole’. He seemingly wants to recruit talent that has not found it ways into a lecture theatre, which usually are inhabited by some of the wealthiest people in the country. He wants people with unique life experience, which seemingly signals his understanding that diversity of, not just cognition, but life history holds some of the most valuable wisdom that would only serve to enhance government understanding of the country.
Cummings and I are in agreement regarding Whitehall being completely out-of-step with the modern world. Britain’s governmental departments are deplete of people who are scientifically inclined and people who can think divergently. As Cummings wrote, Whitehall is saturated with ‘bluffers,’ with ossified sets of thought, who can’t handle their briefs. Although Mr Johnson can certainly be described as all those things, perhaps Dominic can keep him away from actually running the country and give that responsibility to those who are willing to acquaint themselves with detail.