Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s chief adviser, has set the tone for a radical shake-up of Whitehall by inviting “data scientists, project managers, policy experts and assorted weirdos” to apply for Downing Street jobs.
In perhaps the most unusual government job advert ever seen, Mr Cummings invites applications from “true wild cards, artists, people who never went to university and fought their way out of an appalling hell hole”.
He added: “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.”
In exchange, he offers the prospect of long hours and zero job security: “I’ll bin you within weeks if you don’t fit — don’t complain later because I made it clear now,” he wrote on his own personal blog.
Mr Cummings wants to transform Whitehall, synonymous with cautious officialdom, into a dynamic organisation informed by science, data analysis and maverick freethinkers.
He tells “public school bluffers” not to apply for a year-long assignment as his own personal assistant, promising that the job will involve interesting work alongside “uninteresting trivia that makes my life easier which you won’t enjoy”.
The former director of the Vote Leave campaign stressed the long hours, saying: “You will not have weekday date nights, you will sacrifice many weekends. Frankly it will be hard having a boy/girlfriend at all.”
Mr Cummings admitted that some of the Whitehall old guard would have fears about his proposals — “some reasonable, most unreasonable” — but insisted that many officials, particularly younger ones, were ready to embrace change.
His blog enthused about the frontiers of the science of prediction, AI and cognitive technologies, and “the selection, education and training of people for high performance”.
He said: “In many aspects of government, as in the tech world and investing, brains and temperament smash experience and seniority out of the park.”
Mr Cummings’s principal interest is in applying mathematics and science to political problems, and his blog has invited high-achievers from the world’s great universities to apply for jobs at the heart of Mr Johnson’s Downing Street operation.
He suggested, by way of example, that they should consider a paper in the journal Nature — “Early warning signals for critical transitions in a thermoacoustic system” — which looks at systems in physics that could be used to warn of epidemics or financial meltdowns.
The chief adviser, who is positioned at the heart of a powerful new Downing Street machine, is also on the lookout for project managers and innovative communications experts.
His blog suggested Mr Johnson’s government would be willing to expand the number of paid political appointments (special advisers or “spads”) to oversee this new approach.
“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 and perhaps some as officials,” he said.
Although the blog is aimed at recruiting outsiders into Number 10, Mr Cummings said there were “many brilliant people in the civil service and politics” and invited them to apply too.