It was all going so well. The sun was shining and the rain had eased off, and so my girlfriend and I decided to walk along the canal into Birmingham city centre to get some lunch at Brindley Place and pick up some shopping. However, all feelings of content soon evaporated when I walked into Sainsbury’s and saw, emblazoned on the front page of The Sun, the headline ‘PM: I want Boris with me as an MP.’ I let out an almost audible groan, mainly because Rupert Murdoch had seemingly lost all common sense by allowing James Corden to guest edit my beloved paper, but also because of the contents of that headline. The country may love him, but I’m afraid I will never succumb to Boris-mania – the question is, why has the Prime Minister?
Before I am accused of being a killjoy or a ‘Boris hater,’ let me justify my position. I openly admit that Boris is a highly intelligent man; despite his clownish public image, he remains an Oxford graduate with a degree in Classics. Likewise, he also possesses the skill of having huge levels of charisma, despite being an appalling public speaker. He is certainly not a Barack Obama or even a Tony Blair, instead bumbling his way through speeches in an often incoherent mixture of Latin, Greek, and his own made-up words (and he also occasionally throws in the odd bit of English). But yet the crowds lap it up – he is funny, witty, and refreshingly down to earth, happily falling into ponds and getting stuck on zipwires for the general amusement of the British people.
However, like most clowns there is a darker side to Boris Johnson, a side which renders him unsuitable for the job of Prime Minister. For one thing, he makes David Cameron look like a man of principle, which is no easy feat, and I truly believe he is one of the most slippery characters in British politics. From his hazy private life to his political ambitions, everything about Boris is vague and fuzzy. Having strenuously denied any ambition to be Prime Minister just a few years ago, saying that he had more chance of being ‘reincarnated as an olive,’ he has now all but admitted his true ambitions, whilst secretly his allies fume that it was his old Eton rival who took the top job. Indeed, he even admitted during the 2005 leadership campaign that he was only voting for Cameron out of ‘pure, cynical self-interest.’ One thing is for sure about Boris – he is calculating, ambitious, and potentially ruthless.
As well as his own personal defects, Boris simply lacks the statesmanship to serve as Prime Minister of this country. We would, quite frankly, become the laughing stock of the world. Likewise, he would provide the left with an endless supply of mud to sling at the Conservative Party, having made a series of racist, sexist and generally offensive comments. From joking about black people having ‘watermelon smiles’ to describing the city of Portsmouth as being ‘full of drugs, obesity, underachievement and Labour MPs,’ these comments would suggest that, at best, Boris is naive and insensitive, and that in the worst case he is actually a rather bigoted man. I do not personally believe he means any harm, but he certainly doesn’t endear himself to the humourless Guardian-reading middle classes either.
I oppose almost everything that Ken Livingstone stands for, but at least when he was Mayor of London he was harmless. Indeed, I would even go as far as saying that his eight-year tenure was surprisingly successful. Boris, on the other hand, is a totally different story. Whilst Ken Livingstone used the position of London Mayor to sign off his long political career, Boris is using it to build up a power base within the Conservative Party and to establish himself as Britain’s most recognisable and well-known politician. For a man whose intentions are often so difficult to work out, his machinations from City Hall are only too clear. David Cameron may be willing to welcome him back as a Conservative MP, but it won’t end well for Britain.