Who would win in a fight? Dominic Cummings or Seumas Milne?

Whoever wins, we lose
By Marie Le Conte

There are many questions to be asked about Dominic Cummings and Seumas Milne. How much power do they really have in their parties? How much power should they really have in their parties? Is their power revealing of the sort of people they are or the sort of people their leaders are?

These are all worthwhile topics to ponder but we must put them aside for now, as we are here for one reason and one reason only, and it is to answer the important question: Who would win a fight between Dominic Cummings and Seumas Milne?

Some background

Who are we kidding? You’ve clicked on a piece asking whether a senior special adviser to the Prime Minister could beat the opposition’s head of communications in a fight. You know why you’re here. You don’t need background to this. You know who these people are. You want to know which one could beat up the other one.


How are we to decide who would win a fight between Dominic Cummings and Seumas Milne? The process is tricky, especially given that we know nothing - really, nothing - about fighting. Instead, we decided to reach out to former colleagues of both advisers to seek their expert opinion. That they did not know anything about fighting either was to be expected, but hardly our fault. We can only work with the tools available to us.

1. Would a fight even happen?

When approached, most people who know Cummings and/or Milne tried to argue that a fight like this would never happen. One person who used to work with Milne suggested it would be impossible that things would ever get physical between the two men. Instead, Milne would manipulate the rules to make them work in his favour: “Seumas will have the fight delayed for a substantial period of time while he checks and clarifies the rules,” they argued. “By the time the fight is scheduled to happen, he will have found and ratified a subclause declaring his victory before a single punch is thrown.”

This feels pertinent; while Cummings may have been touted as a strategic genius in the past, absolutely nothing in this world can prepare you for arcane and obscure rulebook manipulation like spending decades on the hard left. The infighting between and within factions is ruthless, and if you want to survive in these conditions, your plotting abilities must be unparalleled.

As a result, only one conclusion can be reached: in a fight where the contestants can have a say about the rules, Milne wins.

2. Can you take the other person by surprise?

Though we had assumed that the fight between Dominic Cummings and Seumas Milne would happen, duel-like, at a set time in a set place, one person who used to work with the former decided to use a different premise; as far as they were concerned, both parties would be informed of the fact of the fight at the same time, but would then be left to prepare in any way they want, including the possibility of ambush.

This, they think, would give Cummings the advantage: “Dom would unquestionably win; Milne is a communist: they can’t dictate their own strategy for warfare, he’d have to consult the comrades and there’d be a committee. Dom is the polar opposite; he’d storm into the politburo armed to the teeth and take them all out. And then set about streamlining the politburo’s operational methodology. And then he’d write a 7000-word blog about it. All while the bodies of his truly unworthy adversaries lay bleeding around him.”

Again, this makes sense. Cummings has the air (and the political track record) of an impulsive man; one who could just take a decision on a whim then decide to act upon it immediately, only caring about the consequences afterwards.

Milne, on the other hand, strikes us as someone who would take his time, and think about every possible angle and possibility before springing into action. This may well be a better way to operate in life, but maybe not in this particular fight.

So, if they were simply told that a fight had to happen, but could initiate it off their own bat at any time, Dominic Cummings would have the upper hand over Seumas Milne.

3. ...Weapons?

When we asked former colleagues of Seumas Milne and Dominic Cummings who they thought would win a fight between the pair, we did not expect pretty much everyone to come up with a different scenario. Several graphic scenarios involved weapons, and so we must move on to heavy artillery.

As one person who knows them both sees it, Cummings is impulsive and Milne bides his time, but in this case, it would be to the latter’s advantage: “Given Cummings' experience with Vote Leave and failed attempts to run a Russian airline in the 90s, he would stick to an air attack on the Milne HQ. Milne would, of course, simply wait in his bunker until the aircraft ran out of bombs and then call in the Soviet tanks to roll in and crush Cummings and his acolytes”.

The assessment of our two opponents is similar to the previous scenario, but the addition of weapons changes the balance of power entirely. So, to recap: if there is a fight between Dominic Cummings and Seumas Milne and they both have access to pretty much unlimited artillery, Seumas Milne would win, through sheer Stalingrad spirit.

4. Hand-to-hand

It’s all well and good talking timing and bombs, but at the end of the day, when we ask who of two people would win in a fight, what we want to see is a simple, straightforward physical fight. No tricks, no ambushes, just two men, their fists, and maybe some people around them, chanting.

Given that this is our main scenario, we will now go to several of our experts, in order to come to a fair and educated ruling.

First, we have this: “In my experience, Cummings' approach to political campaigns tends to be more a relentless barrage without really worrying too much about the impact. Milne will wait to deliver a single knock-out punch - and he's also quite wiry in person. In hand-to-hand combat Dom, who does not look a particularly healthy type, would exhaust himself throwing punches as Seumas side-stepped and danced around. Milne would then jump on him and stick a knife in Cummings' back.”

Then, this one: “It is tricky. Seumas has a bit of an air of menace about him and [allegedly] almost got in a fistfight at the Guardian once. But Cummings has that energy of the wiry kid at school who won every fight because they were willing to actually hurt the other guy.”

And finally: “Dom, depending on his mood, can have a pretty physically threatening manner (without ever actually threatening anyone). I've seen officials actually cower away from him. So I reckon he'd be pretty good in a fight. Though he's also quite malcoordinated so it would all be about the attitude rather than the technique. Milne, on the other hand, probably learnt some vicious way to kill someone with one touch during his Stalinist days.”

This is a lot to digest, but ultimately the same few points keep coming up. Cummings has the rage in him and would not hesitate to dive in, giving him an advantage at the very beginning, but would tire himself out quickly. If Milne can survive the initial onslaught, victory is pretty much his.

That being said, it is not obvious that Milne could simply avoid Cummings repeatedly charging towards him, potentially with several knives. What we think would happen is: Cummings gives it everything he has, and he very nearly succeeds. Milne collapses and Cummings thinks he has won and stops paying attention. Milne, using his own last bit of strength, stands up and [insert impressive and scary martial arts move that requires little energy but makes someone pass out instantly, you know the one, like in the movies], then collapses again.

They both lie on the ground. People in Whitehall look on and start getting a bit shifty. They don’t know what they were expecting but now it all seems a bit weird and unnecessary. How did we get here?


Having spoken to many people who know nothing about fighting but a lot about Dominic Cummings and Seumas Milne, we have found that:

  • If the conditions of the fight can be manipulated, Milne would win

  • If one opponent can take the other by surprise, Cummings would win

  • If heavy artillery is allowed in the fight, Milne would win

  • In hand-to-hand combat with maybe one or two knives, they would sort of both lose, or both win, depending on how you look at it.

If we add it all up, the result is clear: in a fight between Seumas Milne and Dominic Cummings, Milne is more likely to win than lose.

So now you know.


Since Seumas Milne and Dominic Cummings are both known for their wonderful, self-deprecating sense of humour and easy-going approach to life, we would like to clarify that this is all a joke and please, please don’t sue. Unless whoever we decide would lose the fight wants to sue because they feel they would win, in which case we would like to humbly suggest fighting the man we crowned hypothetical winner instead.

Marie Le Conte’s Haven't You Heard: Gossip, Power and how Politics Really Works is published on 5 September