Friday, August 3, 2012

Boris Johnson for PM? I sense a cunning plan...

I wrote the other day about the disbelief of Boris Johnson being a seriously-considered future candidate for PM.
My disbelief came from the attraction that people saw in him - or more accurately, the "suspension of disbelief" that seemed to explain his popularity with the general public. However, just because it seems unbelievable doesn't mean it couldn't happen.

I read a Telegraph article that spun a different perspective onto Boris and his path to power here, and it clearly dispels the myth that Boris is a nincompoop. In my hastiness, I forgot one (perhaps the most important) thing: that Boris is an accomplished actor. His gradual rise to power has been through his consistent stance of going against the grain, acting as though the rules don't apply.
In that sense, he may remind some Tories of a latter-day Churchill - a maverick who cannot be pinned down, whose charms are as infectious as they are inexplicable and contradictory.
And his appearance as a buffoon is part of his public persona, that hides an intellect well-versed in the art of rhetoric, wordplay, and the power of clever oratory. He may not appear to be smart, but smartness can come in many guises - even as a blonde-haired buffoon, playing on his oafish charms.

No, Boris is no fool - he merely plays the fool very well. I compared him to "Dubya" the other day, but now I realise I was being unfair. I said that Boris made Cameron looked smart, which is true, strictly speaking - he makes Cameron seem smarter than him, while in reality, it is Boris who holds the best cards in the deck, and lets Cameron be the sponge for all the government's bad news stories. It is Cameron who has been out-smarted by the "blonde bombshell", cornered, and made to look ineffective.

There is a sense that all the pieces are being carefully put in place, events set in motion. Cameron has been the willing dupe for what has gone wrong with the economy and the government's failings in general. Banks and big business realise that Cameron has failed in repairing the economy because he was shackled to the LibDems, and too slow to restore faith in business. Osborne is discredited, and yet Cameron refuses to replace him for the entire term of parliament. Business has lost respect for Cameron, and the banking sector thinks that Cameron has no real idea what he's doing.
Meanwhile, Cameron's party is slowly losing its respect for him, too, as the Tories (never the most loyal of people) look for alternatives. Cameron has been weak with his own rebellious backbenchers, seeming even weaker than when John Major was in power, consistently conceding ground, and emboldening further the rebellious "bright young things" of the 2010 intake. Now, with House of Lords' reform dead in the water, the Lib Dems are looking more irate than ever, and Cameron is stuck between a rock and a hard place.The Coalition seems less and less likely to survive till 2015.
And where would that then leave Cameron? If the Lib Dems pull out and agree to allow the Tories to continue as a minority government at some point in the next couple of years, then the Conservative backbenchers would be even more emboldened to force a leadership contest before the 2015 election. If Boris can therefore manage to concoct a passage into parliament before then, the backbenchers may well think he has the charisma and "name recognition" that would give them the edge to, at least, limit the damage that Cameron has done thus far. And the polls appear to support that logic.

Boris is going from strength to strength, so this path is not as unlikely as it sounds. Going back to Churchill, his path to power was also a fluke at the time: in May 1940 he was in the right place at the right time, and as a maverick his appeal was difficult for "career politicians" to understand, or counter for that matter. In that way, Boris shares some of these characteristics.
Boris is also a strong defender of the financial sector, and from what he has said would therefore have the support of the men in The City. Having the "common touch", his charisma crosses class boundaries like no-one else in his party. It is no surprise also that the "Murdoch press" are supporting him where they can: with Cameron damaged goods through links revealed to the Leveson Inquiry, they would look for a new "poster boy" to defend their interests. Boris therefore suits their needs well.

The "cunning plan" is then to have Boris as PM, as he would support the aims of the financial sector, be an affable defender of the "free press", as well as making the right populist noises about promoting growth for small businesses (if not really doing anything about it). The cuts would continue, as would the various public sector "reforms", albeit explained by a man whose maverick charms would render the left-wing speechless and tongue-tied. Ken Livingstone tried to dismiss Boris as a lightweight and not a serious politician: yet these blows deflected off Boris' affable persona. There's no reason to think that, as PM, Boris would not be able to repeat the same conjuring trick.
For those who support the "neo-liberal experiment", the "blonde bombshell" would then be the one who stood the best chance against the "forces of darkness" of the left-wing, discrediting them with his unique turn-of-phrase and maverick methodology, ensuring that their economic fascism would continue for the foreseeable future, until a point when their transformation of the UK would be beyond reversal.

A strange irony indeed, if economic fascism reached its logical conclusion in the UK under the tenure of the "blonde bombshell".

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