Somehow, Alexander Boris de Feffel Johnson has acquired a reputation for being highly intelligent. He might be highly educated, but as for intelligence, I have severe doubts. The fact that he can spout Greek and/or Latin speaks well for his Eton and Oxford days, but his recent behaviour has opened up wide cracks in his ability to judge situations and display genuine intelligence. His support for the B-word is a perfect example.
On the other hand, perhaps he is hiding a better intellect than I think, behind a public persona which is driven by his massive ego and frightening levels of ambition. Or perhaps, rather than intelligence, it’s a form of primal cunning. I suggest this, because I have been watching his face as closely as TV allows in recent days, and this is a man who, while making strident Brexit noises, clearly does not believe a word he is saying. To many, he is now just boring us with his faux-passion for the B-word.
Remember that before the 2016 referendum campaign got under way, Johnson was heard to say that he was not sure which way to vote. He was thinking about it. He then concluded that in order to stay firmly in the public eye, he had to do something that would titillate the media into hanging onto his every pronouncement, however wrong-headed. So, be controversial. Support a clearly wrong idea. He needed and needs to maintain his celebrity in order to keep up his appeal to the Conservative Party “activists” at constituency level because they are the people who will be asked to vote for someone to replace Theresa May as Tory leader anytime between now and the next General Election.
True – the backbench Tories must first decide on just two candidates, but Boris has become the darling of the grassroots activists, whose political discernment is minimal (and the same goes for the corresponding lot in the Labour Party – which accounts for O Jeremy Corbyn). I can’t claim any scientific support for this, but I am certain that a poll among those Tory activists would show a huge majority in favour of leaving the EU, because I am certain, having once been there and left in disgust, that they are, by the very fact of being Conservative activists, Little Englanders to a man and woman. Boris knew that, and knows it still. And he knows that they hold the key to that big black door in Downing Street.
Boris also knows that there is no-one else in the Conservative Party who can command the kind of following at constituency level that he enjoys. So, before and above all else, Boris is about The Party and how it could take him to the coveted door of Number 10.
Do you remember the expression on his face when the 2016 result was announced? He could not believe it. What’s more, it’s on record now that before he made up his mind on which way to vote and throw his weight, he had composed two pieces for the Telegraph, one in favour, one against. (Have a look at this interview with Fintan O’Toole).
Talk about playing both ends against the middle! His decision to support Leave was taken purely on the basis of which direction would give him greater publicity, and (rightly) he chose Leave because the sheer effrontery of that position would guarantee it.
Boris as Mayor of London? Much clowning sound and fury, signifying nothing. Boris as Foreign Secretary? An embarrassment to us all. Boris as Prime Minister? Heaven preserve us. What to do, to avoid that?
Get serious and committed Independent candidates to stand in every constituency and elect them. Wrest our democracy out of the dead hands of the so-called main political parties, which are like two very old boxers, committed to fight, but who can do nothing but lean on each other in order to stay roughly upright. A Parliament of Independents will, at the very least, ensure that neither Bore-us Boris nor O Jeremy Corbyn will get beyond looking at the door to Number 10, but finding it barred