Wednesday, April 04, 2007
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.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 1:05 pm