Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Boris Question

Boris Johnson has now trashed Portsmouth from the comfort of a Maybach, a £340,000 car he was reviewing for GQ. This might be said to look a touch iffy on a number of levels for the shadow higher education minister. Iain Dale, however, defends him on the basis that he is good at his job and he is one of the few nationally known Tories. Iain suggests a promotion to the shadow cabinet combined with an ultimatum stipulating that 'he give up the outside interests ... and concentrate on the job.' This is a polite way of saying, cut the buffonery, Boris. The flaw in this is the assumption that Boris's apparent popularity will sustain him in government. At the moment, he is well known but not as a politician. In government his flamboyant toffery would at once irritate the people whose real lives he was affecting. Furthermore, there is a silly, sentimental, Tory view that 'characters' in politics are, somehow, refreshing. Alan Clark was the previous beneficiary of this folly. The truth is that any fool can be a 'character' and there is no reason why such a person should be any good as a politician - Clark certainly wasn't. Such 'characters', to the sentimental imagination, represent a rebuke to the supposed depravity of the present; but, in reality, they only exist because it is so easy to make one's name as a rebel merely by vacuously rejecting contemporary mores. These high Tories dreaming of the toffs of the past are, in fact, drowning in the celebrity cult of the present. Johnson - who may, for all I know, make a brilliant minister - doesn't seem to realise that he may have already drowned. Clark and Johnson are, for the Tories, Posh Spice and Kate Moss. I would have thought Boris wanted a more elevated role.

15 comments:

  1. Bryan, you've missed the most interesting part of that Telegraph article, the drug-users league table for Southern towns and cities:

    1,146 in Portsmouth
    1,343 in Southampton
    1,155 in Reading
    3,380 in Brighton and Hove
    3,000 in Bournemouth
    7,648 in Bristol

    Go Bournemouth! Although 2,999 of that suspiciously round number probably come from Boscombe.

    Bristol has a population of 400,000, while Bournemouth only has a population of 164,000, so, per capita, that pretty much places Bournemouth equal top of the table. Surprising, really, when you consider all the drug-related crime and murders that occur in Reading. But I'm sure the figures are reliable...

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  2. Onwards and upwards, Bryan.

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  3. "it is so easy to make one's name as a rebel merely by vacuously rejecting contemporary mores"

    Possibly why a punk ethic is destined to burn itself out very quickly or as an alternative to become a parody of itself, though maybe this is not a parody of itself but the embodiment of itself just a few steps further down the line; it has very little in the way of positive self-sufficiency as an ideal. By contrast it does seem possible to grow old gracefully as a kind of hippy where you are primarily concerned with what you are for rather than against.

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  4. (But you can't grow old gracefully as a Conspiracy Theorist, remember, Andrew.)

    I agree about Alan Clark. Fantastically entertaining diarist - and a beautiful prose writer - but rotten as a politician. Much like Boris, as you suggest.

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  5. Perhaps you would care to share with us just what exactly makes a good politician. It's easy for journalists to dismiss us with a light turn of phrase, but talk is always cheap. What qualities are you looking for in your political class, Bryan?

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  6. Clueless AmericanApril 05, 2007 12:07 am

    Could someone please explain to me (in 20 words or less) *what* exactly Tories are? I studied Tories/Whigs in 19th-century Britain, but the current breed seem quite different. When you refer to them I've no idea what you're talking about...but I'd like to.

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  7. How gracefully can one grow old as a Docile Herd-Poisoned Lackey, Brit?

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  8. Well, if that's how one thinks of human beings, 'poison' is the right word.

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  9. None of the qualities you possess, Bertie, I would imagine. Then again, there may be a small minority of imbeciles out there who believe a politician should be mealy-mouthed, incoherent, dim-witted, dull, humourless, unpolished, graceless, mendacious, unprincipled, cowardly, smug...

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  10. Now, now, boys. Less of the name-calling. It's unseemly. Ungentlemanly, even. Save your vitriol for those who deserve it (like Bertie or Tony or George and others of their ilk).

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  11. And don't call me a hypocrite. How dare you!

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  12. Neil,

    There's a saying I always trot out when faced with people like you: you get the politicians you deserve.

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  13. Cliched maybe. But this week I got to shake the hand of one of my all time heroes, The Rev Ian P, or the Big Man, as we like to call him. On camera he comes across a bit dour and forbidding, I grant you, but in person he exudes charm and wit like you have never seen, just like El Gordo in fact.

    The funny thing is just days before my very self same hand was buttering up Edwina. She too was exuding but in her case it wasn't charm. So you see we politicians may not be up to much but we do know how to have a good time.

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  14. What Alan and Boris as POsh and Kate? They are not photogenic nor international. Must find some much more parochial comparisons next time!

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