Is Boris the next Enoch Powell?
13 Sep 2014 at 09:14
I am beginning to wonder whether Boris Johnson will be the next Enoch Powell. A distinguished classicist, self publicist and boat rocking irritant. Both were disillusioned with their parties, both were dangerously unpredictable and had leadership ambitions. To be fair to Powell he at least was consistent even if dangerously wrong about so many things and even more dangerously consistent and right about everything else. Powell was a loner. So is Boris. Powell used to send shivers of dread down the spines of party leaders at election time. What will he say? What will he do? So does Boris. And when canvassing, the party faithful in 1974 would be treated with the usual refrain of ’ I agree with every word that that Mr.Powell says.’ Boris hasn’t quite got there yet, but he might.
But that’s where the comparison probably ends. Powell was an intellectual, a deep thinker who could dazzle his opponents with crystal towers of logic. We knew what he believed. We knew where he stood. You got what was written on the tin. We know what is written on the Boris tin, ‘I want to be Prime Minister.’ But what is actually in it? I haven’t a clue. And I doubt whether he does either.
So here is his problem. Boris wants to replace the man who his enemies believe is a slick PR man, stands for nothing and has departed from the true Tory path. And Boris? I am not entirely sure which path he follows at all apart from the garden variety of which he consistently and elegantly leads us up. On Europe he started off as rather pro until he realised he could impress his editor with some delightfully amusing but very flaky anti EU copy. And a true Tory (whatever that is)? Mmm, from a man who nearly joined the SDP? So the crude difference between Cameron and him is that one is a pragmatist the other an opportunist. Although to be fair, in politics there is absolutely no shame about the latter as long as it is practised in moderation. Not perhaps a Johnsonian trait.
Well, we’ve got him now, how do we best utilise him? General elections like any good ballet have to be meticulously choreographed. And the Tory Chef de ballet is that old bruiser Lynton Crosby, who must pondering how on earth to keep Bozza reasonably on message and not trapped into divisive quotes apart from hallucinogenic drugs or physical restraint. I suspect it will be a lot easier than we think. Firstly, it is not in Boris’s interests for Cameron to lose the election. The hard, demeaning, hopeless job of being Leader of the Opposition doesn’t fit his psyche. The best chance of becoming leader is one of two options. Option one; the figures are so tight that another coalition is inevitable which is scuppered by Tory backbenchers and Cameron is forced out Boris takes over and fights an election. But that is not as easy as it seems. Nowadays Tory backbenchers don’t chose the leader, there has to be a vote by members of the party. This takes time and if the Queen is waiting to appoint a government she will not want to be hanging about for a couple of months whilst the Tories are sorting themselves out. And a coronation will not be tolerated by Osborne or May.
Option two; Cameron loses the referendum on the EU and resigns. This is Boris’s best chance.
So if he wants to be leader he must at least pretend to be loyal simply because it is in his interests that Cameron wins the election with an outright majority.And after recovering from the heady glow of being selected for Uxbridge (I wonder if he thought that it was Oxbridge?) the first thing he should do is take the Boris circus down to Clacton and knock nine bells out of the KIPPERS. And this is where he is most useful; the destruction of Farage. He can out Heineken him any day.
So Boris the politician who pretends he isn’t, might well be the Nemesis of Farage the politician who pretends he isn’t. What a funny old world we live in. But fun.
Oh, and just in case you have forgotten Enoch Powell, despite all the hype, never led his party.