The political aide and communications strategist has built himself an uncompromising brand. He is the stuff of Westminster satire: not so far removed from the fictional spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker from the comedy series The Thick Of It. Yet Cummings may yet prove to be stranger than fiction. He is determined to ensure the referendum vote is upheld and the UK leaves the EU which he’s pursuing with such vigour that sensibilities appear to have been lost. Both Cummings and his boss Boris Johnson should be aware the manner of their behaviour and language impacts on the mood of the nation.
Anyone watching the shenanigans in Parliament play out on news bulletins will be in no doubt this is the age of the ego.
Bickering and shouting in Westminster outrages and disconnects the British public in equal measure.
Add the noise from social media and it’s clear: the age-old qualities of charm and decency are being eroded.
This is perilous as from royalty to Westminster, the art of charm ensures survival in a harsh world of open opinion.
Prince Harry and Dominic Cummings have public image problems
A charming communicator doesn’t have to mimic the vitriol of the Twitter sewer.
Shouting to make a point heard does not make communication any better: indeed, quite the reverse when more consideration and thought would be appropriate.
Charm is a powerful and attractive commodity.
To be truthfully charming, you need to use your ears first but not be voiceless.
A great communicator leads the conversation but does not govern it and the current debate requires a far greater lightness of touch.
"It’s not enough to conquer,” as Voltaire said. “One must learn to seduce”.
Prince Harry’s insistence on privacy in an age of absolute scrutiny has exposed his charmless Achilles’ heel.
His hubristic distance from media unease and reactions to his continuing bad press is a crisis entirely of his own making.
This is a textbook example of a highly flawed communications strategy – and it shows a lack of charm.
Harry, of all men, should know better.
His mother Diana, knew how to keep her enemies close.
As veteran Royal expert Ingrid Seward recently noted: “The public wanted to take Meghan Markle to our hearts, but Harry is pushing them away.”
According to Seward, Diana’s way of dealing with “the enemy” was to invite them into her home, flatter them and make them her supporters.
Right now, Harry would do well to follow Diana’s approach.
Now, rumours that the Duchess of Sussex has employed US-based PR firm Sunshine Sachs are even more concerning, and could distance the royal couple further from the British media.
The Sussexes seem intent to build their power base in the US.
But what the couple badly need is less corporate egotism and more of the diplomacy and charm the Royal Family has survived upon for decades.
The affable British public relations pioneer Theo Cowan was the UK’s first PR superstar.
His key weapon, which he deftly deployed, wasn’t bullying, aggressive and full of abuse.
He preferred to use his limitless charm to persuade people into the headlines.
He understood its importance.
Before setting up his consultancy in the 1960s he was head of Rank film publicity, which created the legendary Rank Charm School which taught its stars how to walk, behave and talk properly – and most importantly, how to navigate a media interview.
Cowan made a name schooling starlets in the ways of the media and owing to this success created a hugely influential entertainment PR concern.
True, the contemporary media age is less forgiving. And let’s not be naive; charm can be deceitful. But we sorely need to move away from scorched earth communication tactics, and build better relationships with the public again.
Prince Harry, Cummings and our politicians should remember the values their roles demand. Being a politician, political adviser or a member of the Royal Family are not career roles for the sharp-elbowed – they are service roles.
And if those in these vital roles want us to believe in them, then communications strategy based on charm and truth are where they must return.
* Read more from Mark on Twitter @markborkowski