Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Premature euphoria

Actually I did consider calling this post premature something else but that sort of thing can attract unfortunate search engine rankings. But either way it is clear that the decision by Boris Johnson to enter the race for the London Mayoralty has sent the Conservative blogosphere into paeans of ecstasy not seen since the days when Margaret Thatcher was in No 10.

As a fellow-journalist, I have to say I had a fair amount of respect for Bozza. But as a politician? Well, suffice to say his is a precocious talent that has remained unfulfilled.

As far back in the mid-90s, when he was still on the Daily Telegraph and toying with a Parliamentary career, he was being talked about as the most promising Tory of his generation. Yet he seemed unable to make a clear choice between politics and journalism and was eventually beaten to the Tory leadership by a younger man.

His frontbench career has progressed in fits and starts. Michael Howard took a gamble on him and brought him into a prominent role, but ended up having to sack him after he was less than forthcoming about his affair with Petronella Wyatt.

For what it's worth, I thought Iain Dale was right that Boris would have benefited from the rigour of a tough internal primary against someone of Steve Norris's calibre. But that now looks unlikely to happen, and who can blame Norris for not wanting to play the fall-guy?

The fact that this chaotic and wholly unproven figure has been alighted upon by the capital's Tories as a potential saviour is surely a measure of their desperation.

19 July update: And this great story from the Mirror's Bob Roberts proves the point. I particularly love this quote from a "Labour source" which Bob couldn't possibly have made up:

"It may be safe to go back into the water. It's certainly not safe to go back to the Tories."

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Bryan McGrath said...

Boris Johnson for Mayor of London, we will see. Given that Boris is blatantly an ambitious politician who believes ‘all publicity is good publicity’, merely letting his name go forward is a result.

Given that he is so gaff prone is would make the selection of Jeffrey Archer seem like an inspired move by Bill Hague: remember that particular blunder was down to the Yorkshire genius.

I was recently treated to a public meeting address by Boris at Keele University: I was picking up number one son and his belongings. Boris did is usual “turn” about how he must not offend anybody today: them immediately listing the places he had offended over the previous year, leaving Liverpool to last, since it was a bit too close for comfort. The subject of his speech was financing higher education, a subject you would expect him to have of useful ideas about, however, that was not the case. His main idea was to make Britain the ‘Athens of the global economy’: which translates to taking as many fee paying on EU students as possible.

I asked him what had happen to the idea espoused in the 2005 Conservative Manifesto of selling off student loan debt and changing commercial interest rates, therefore, avoiding student tuition. Oh that idea was too difficult to explain on the doorstep so had to go.

Yes Boris is a politician of our time: he can’t see farther than the next “sound bite”.

Anonymous said...

Boris was a rather different sort of journalist to you were.

Sorry if that sounds harsh but you weren't regarded as the most important target in the Lobby.

Give him a break. he has walked the walk!

Paul Linford said...

I have never regarded myself as any sort of "target" in the Lobby, important or otherwise.

I am however getting rather tired of people coming here anonymously and playing the man, not the ball. If you've got something to say to me or about me, be a good chap and put your name to it, why don't you? It's not as if you're ever likely to have to look me in the eye along the Burma Road again.

Matt Carter said...

Boris is, rather sadly, just a class clown. His knowledge and interest level make David Cameron look positively overflowing with substance and purposeful direction.

I happily voted for Steve Norris but as a Conservative I have to vote for someone serious who could actually do the job. I wonder who UKIP or the Lib Dems might put up. What about Des Wilson or Brian Paddick? Either would be better than Livingstone or Boris Johnson.