Saturday, August 11, 2012

Boris for PM? The bandwagon rolls on and on...

Since I wrote my last article here about Boris Johnson's ultimate ambition, there is even more evidence in the last week that adds weight to the bandwagon, rolling on to an almost self-fulfilling prophecy.

First of all, there are the quotes from the horses mouth. Boris's definitive denials of upstaging Cameron are told to the media with a an evident knowing twinkle in the eye. Then, there's the planned meeting to the Conservative 1922 Committee next month, where Boris will espouse his reasoning for his success in London, and what the rest of the Conservative Parliamentary Party can learn - while no doubt allowing Boris an opportunity to network and gain  more influence and popular support. Thirdly, Boris is planning a "world tour" as London Mayor after the Olympics; ostensibly to promote foreign investment in London, but also to give his persona a bigger stage and wider global recognition, like other "pop star" politicians such as Barack Obama. And lastly, and most extraordinarily, even David Cameron himself admitted to Boris's special talents, admitting that it was justifiable for someone like him to want to have the highest ambitions.

This last point, although not commented on heavily in the media, to me appears very telling. It is hard to think of any other sitting head of government being so openly charitable to the main rival and heir apparent to his position, especially from his own party.
It tells me that either a) Cameron privately knows that he's doomed to a successful leadership challenge at some point, and is being a "good sport" by doing what he can to make it an orderly transition, or b) he's been given a quiet word by senior figures in his party to tell him he's doomed, and thus quietly facilitate an orderly transition, or c) he's honestly speaking his mind simply because he's a political amateur and doesn't think about the implications of what he's saying. Any of these three possibilities are telling - the reality may a combination of the three: that Cameron has been hopelessly out-played by events and the duplicitous cunning of Boris.

I wrote about the reasons for Boris' popularity on the streets before. This is also well-explained in another article here, and the reasons why Labour have just cause to be worried (which I also mentioned previously) are explained in this other article here. There is also the darker side to Boris's personality, which is well-hidden under the public, bumbling, eccentric maverick persona. One of his former colleagues called him "shallow, duplicitous, selfish, sociopathic, scheming"; and again, Boris in his own words said "as I have discovered myself, there are no disasters, only opportunities. And, indeed, opportunities for fresh disasters".
There is also the impression given that Boris doesn't have a "plan", has no agenda or political platform, other than his own self-promotion.  Like the anarchic character from Batman, "The Joker", Boris just does things, says whatever comes to his mind at that moment, and sees what will happen next. Boris has no clear convictions; he has few real "friends", so insiders say, as he drops interest in them when they are no longer useful to him. He is able to get away with this abject lack of loyalty through his charming personality; his affable, bumbling persona that makes people laugh. He disarms his critics and opponents through a well-worked mask of harmless fun. This is also has the additional benefit of making his rivals (such as the Labour Party when competing in the mayoral elections, or Cameron when assessing his threat to his position) under-estimate his capabilities.
Boris is not stupid; he simply cultivates a persona that lulls his rivals into a false sense of security. With a record as a serial adulterer, as well as the wealth of anecdotal evidence that he can be ruthless with his critics, as well as promoting loyalists at the expense of expertise in the mayoralty, there is therefore an increasing stockpile of evidence that suggests Boris would score highly on the "psychopath check-list".

Clearly, Boris is a smart man and a cunning and ruthless politician, which he hides under a mask of clownish buffoonery. Where does the acting stop, and the "real" Boris begin? Who is the "real" Boris? When he was an MP he was well-known for doing very little in parliament. This tells us he was either lazy, or that he felt the job was beneath him. Either of those being true, this is not a good sign. If it is the first, it tells us he is irresponsible; if it is the second, it tells us he is arrogant. And there have been stories in the news while he's been Mayor of London that suggest the same kind of behaviour continues unabated, on an even larger stage. 
While saying publicly that he intends to serve his full term as mayor come what may, everyone knows the disingenuous reality: he is aiming for the top job. Seeing Cameron flailing as PM, the Conservatives, looking around for  other inspiration before the next general election, Boris sees his opportunity. His sense of timing is perfect; no doubt as he intended. He knew that being London Mayor during the Olympics would be a great opportunity to show off his unique brand of charisma to a wider audience, while not actually having to be really accountable for anything too important , except for "Boris Bikes", and making the occasional remark about transport, social issues and policing. Boris allowing himself to become London Mayor in 2008 was a great strategic decision, politically, assuming he could be re-elected again so to be mayor in time for the Olympics. All he had to do was bide his time and wait for the right moment.

And so the Boris bandwagon continues. Yes, to those of sane political minds, the prospect of Boris as PM may seem implausible, even ridiculous. But that's precisely what Boris would want you to think! It may be implausible, but looking more and more possible. It may seem ridiculous, but it may soon become inevitable, if events turn right.
The "blonde bombshell" does have an increasing momentum. Don't forget that in times of economic crisis, when the political establishment appears muddled by events, and stifled in a straight-jacket of conventional wisdom, it is the unconventional charismatic mavericks that can find their moment to upstage their rivals. It takes a set of specific circumstances for demagogues to come to power; but those circumstances already exist in the UK today. All it takes is the right man. 

And there is only one "Boris".

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