“So, who did you vote for then?”
“Because he’s funny.”
Dangling from a zip wire with all the grace and elegance of a pregnant basset hound, Boris Johnson gurns and sways moronically, in the latest of a series of publicity stunts. No one benefited more from the rapturously received Olympic games than he. His profile soared and the “Boris for PM” whispers gathered momentum. He is a rare breed- a Tory who can win in an election. Those with only a casual interest in politics find themselves slightly more engaged when he appears on their screens; even the snarling and disillusioned find him amusing, albeit begrudgingly. His linguistic dexterity knows no bounds.
However, the above conversation in homes and pubs across the land around the time of the mayoral election earlier this year highlights the problem with “Bojo”. He has an intoxicating personality, which has captured many a commentator’s attention in an era of anodyne politicians and sanitised answers. But he’s about as credible as a feral badger, his charisma glossing over his previous gaffes and incompetence. Underneath the carefully tailored image of a buffoon, a calculating and ruthlessly ambitious mind whirs away; plotting his way into number 10.
Boris garnered many votes during his campaign through his colourful style and command of words. Yet, he only managed to beat the mystifyingly vilified Ken Livingstone by a narrow margin. Today, when discussing politicians, the phrase “they’re all the same” comes up regularly. In Boris, the electorate see someone who isn’t afraid to challenge his own party on issues like the third runway at Heathrow. They see a man who is jovial, witty and eccentric; and they like it. He’s not like other politicians around at the moment. His success (and Ken Livingstone’s failure) shows the importance of personality (or lack of) in today’s political climate, as opposed to solid political acumen.
In fact, so vibrant is his character, his shambolic and desperately vague nine point plan for London that was spun during the campaign was went largely unnoticed. I’ve heard more coherent political statements from the cast of TOWIE. The creation of 200,000 jobs particularly grates with me- in what sector? How are you going to create them? The similarly opaque “getting a better deal for London from No.10” smacks of empty rhetoric. These are the kind of policies that will feed the disenfranchisement of the youth today; virtually nothing from his flaccid plan was aimed at helping young people.
Remarkably, despite backing the bankers amidst the LIBOR rate fixing scandal and calling for a cut in the top rate of tax, people were still compelled to vote for him.
Boris represents the 1%. The elite. He solely seeks to retain their backing. Like other politicians, Boris was too close to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s News International.- and lest we forget, once held a position in Parliament no too long ago; but he was sacked as a front bench MP by then leader Michael Howard, for failing to tell the party the truth over claims that he had an affair. I dare you to hazard a guess at who he would look out for if he became PM.
I mean, what has Boris actually achieved in his four years as mayor? (Apart from intensifying the misery for commuters across the capital). The prized Routemaster buses have been dubbed a costly vanity project, and the number of police officers on the beat has been slashed by 1,700 in the last two years. There is no major landmark policy of note that has significantly improved the lives of Londoners.
In the bubble that is the Gherkin, Boris can do as he pleases without incurring heavy repercussions. In the position of PM however, I am convinced that he would implode- incinerated, like the proverbial Icarus, by the pressure of holding the top job in front line politics. He would not be able to do or say the same things he does so confidently now, and the public’s perception of him would change dramatically to his detriment.
So don’t be fooled by the Boris bandwagon. More misery would await the 99% of us if he were to be PM.