Dominic Cummings goes out and Dan Rosenfield comes in through the revolving doors on Downing Street. They are ships that passed almost in the night.
Rosenfield is a former civil servant; Cummings distrusted the public service. He worked for Alistair Darling and George Osborne, both faces from the vanished world before the EU referendum. Cummings helped destroy it. Rosenfeld then went to Hakluyt, a strategic consulting firm, through Bank of America. This is Planet Remain Territory, not Leave Country.
Such comparisons must be made today after Rosenfeld was appointed Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister. You are far from the mark.
Cummings was Boris Johnson’s chief advisor – the election strategist came to the guru, came to the specialist and, in the run-up to his depature, concentrated on putting the new test and trace plan “Moonshot” into operation. But Rosenfeld does not replace him: in fact, Cummings, good or bad, is irreplaceable.
Rosenfield will be chief of staff, not a special adviser. He was clearly appointed not to give political direction but to exercise administrative influence. That he supposedly has no discernible political views is a plus from this point of view. And a sign that Johnson wants a bit of quiet after the storm. For the moment.
In any case, Rosenfield is largely in the tradition of Jonathan Powell, the former civil servant who became Tony Blair’s chief of staff, rather than Ed Llewellyn, David Cameron’s chief of staff who later became a civil servant – or more precisely, a diplomat; or more precisely, ambassador in Paris.
Powell, as an old Labor hand tells us, “hardly looked at Labor MPs”. Conservative MPs queuing to bow to Rosenfield’s ear can be referred to Johnson’s Political Secretary, Ben Gascoigne.
“I really enjoyed working with George,” Rosenfield said in an interview. “He’s a really professional guy and someone who really cares about making a difference. I enjoyed every minute. “
As we write, Osborne hasn’t tweeted about the appointment. It is impossible to believe that Downing Street did not at least ask the former Chancellor for his opinion. In any case, the administrator has taken care of it. (We hope.) Next comes politics. That means that Downing Street will sort out less staff and more relationships with Tory MPs.
What suggests the CCHQ has changed is the reshuffle, a move in the Whips Office, and a senior backbencher as a problem solver for number ten – to obliterate problems before they can flare up.