Dominic Cummings' 'misfits and weirdos' quote triggers angry exchanges in Wakefield council chamber

A reference to Downing Street wanting to recruit "weirdos and misfits" has sparked furious exchanges between Labour and Tory councillors.

By David Spereall
Thursday, 27th February 2020, 5:26 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th February 2020, 5:28 pm
The Prime Minister's chief adviser, Dominic Cummings (left), invited "weirdos and misfits" to apply for jobs in Downing Street.
The Prime Minister's chief adviser, Dominic Cummings (left), invited "weirdos and misfits" to apply for jobs in Downing Street.

The line was taken from a blog belonging to Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister's chief adviser, who talked of wanting to hire "wild cards" and people with "odd skills" to help staff Number 10.

The now infamous quote was used by Wakefield Labour councillor Martyn Johnson to describe Conservative proposals to amend the council's Budget, which was debated on Wednesday.

But several Tory councillors took offence to the quote and appeared to claim it had been made as a direct reference to them, before the origin of the quote was clarified by the mayor of Wakefield, who was chairing the meeting.

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Tory group leader Nadeem Ahmed reacted angrily to jibes from Labour councillors, including one that his party's proposals were "recycled rubbish".

Coun Johnson, who also described the Opposition's ideas as "100 per cent recycled rubbish", said: "It may be that central government has had an input into this document.

"It may be it's come from your team of weirdos and misfits in the Conservative Party."

Cries of dissent then came from the Conservative benches, with one councillor shouting, "That was out of order", as the meeting continued.

Allegations of bullying were then later made, after Labour Cabinet member Maureen Cummings also described the Tory proposals as "rubbish".

Angrily taking exception to both that and Coun Johnson's comment, Conservative group leader Nadeem Ahmed defied instructions to sit down from the mayor and said: "You can sit here and debate in a proper manner and we'll do the same."

In response Coun Cummings said: "Nobody in this council chamber is to be bullied or threatened."

Coun Ahmed later retorted: "Don't dare any councillor in this chamber accuse us of bullying or threatening.

"We can sit here and go through things in a respectful manner, or not.

"When I became Conservative group leader I assured the mayor that they and I will give them and the chamber respect at all times and I will continue to do that."