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August 04, 2012



I'm pretty sure Mark Spitz isn't the face of the Munich Olympics unless it was him under that balaclava all along.

belle le triste

My first thought when this burst all over twitter was "He did it on purpose"

A week or so back I was sat on the bus in front of two black Hackney teenagers -- Bojo's voice came onto the intercom or whatever's it's called, and one of the girls grumbled and the other laughed. "I like him. He's the only politician who's funny." I think stuff like this does him no harm at all.

Charlie W

Take courage. Boris's image is turning to shit. Imperceptibly slowly, but it is turning.


Nice thought, but do you have any evidence that his image is turning to shit?

As far as I can see people relate to him as serfs might to a less obviously nasty baron.


Is it unfair to suggest Boris's persona has a touch of the Aarfy about it?


I did click on the link in the original post, but on seeing the author's name though "figures" and read no further. JF used to really get on my wick in the mid-90s with a strange blend of parochialism and Atlanticism.

Igor Belanov

He has managed to use his image to perfect advantage, which means he's treated by a totally different set of standards to any other politician. This also allows him to keep his nasty side well hidden. I'm just hoping that enough people still think that he's just too stupid to ever gain any higher office.


Hey, who says we need itnelligent politicians at the top? It worked for GW Bush didn't it?

chris y

The Tories are already largely an English party. Putting Johnson in charge would make them entirely a regional party, which they might survive for one election, but not more. I very much doubt whether the movers and shakers will be prepared to let this happen.


What's most bothersome about the Johnson phenomenon is the way people seem to relate with such affection to somebody who so visibly despises them. I hate to sound like some embittered sectarian leftist, but what do you do if people like somebody who holds nothing but contempt for them?

belle le triste

My theory which is mine:

Bojo's relationship with the rank and file of his own party is no different: he holds them in no less contempt. How many loyal troops does he command? He's achieved affection outside the party by finding a way to escape its tribal protocols, and turning what was a distinct negative for eg William Hague into a super-smart (political) positive (ie that he doesn't mind being laughed at). He's semi-detached enough in his present job -- which has no recent tradition of role in leader-creation -- for this to work more for him than agin, on rough balance, but the moment he moves in for the kill in re bossing the party the significant crackling resentment within that unlovely org will be ignited against him. he *may* be able to play out-party affection against it, by running "against" the nastiness of his own party, but I'm not convinced this will smooth stuff over.

Igor Belanov

a3t- I agree, and it makes you wish there was a bit more old-fashioned class prejudice in this country. Johnson is so much a stereotypical Old Etonian as to be almost a caricature of a public school buffoon, but there is a worrying tendency for ordinary people to laugh with him, rather than just laughing at him.


So, going by Belle's theory and by this, his best bet is to cross the floor immediately before the next election and run for PM as leader of the Labour Party?

belle le triste

Where would "a bit more old-fashioned class prejudice" direct the attitudes of black Hackney teenagers, though? It's because stereotypes are easy to game if you're astute -- and willing at some level to be playful -- that the Boris mojo has had heft: my suspicion is that this heft vanishes as soon as he needs to tie himself to a faction or a party or a movement that demands mutual obligations of any determinable kind. The professional political class in particular are surely much less likely to think "aw, it's just Boris being Boris" in any kind of positive way, once he moves away from the "licensed clown" role...

(I don't think he's an idiot, even though he clearly and endlessly plays one on TV: but does he have any kind of activist-level loyal following?)

Igor Belanov

He's an example of why politics desperately needs to avoid presidential-style positions. As belle says, he has benefitted from his relative lack of attachment to the party machine and the prominence of 'celebrity culture'. The mere fact that he's different from 'ordinary' politicians and does his best to reinforce that image helps obscure his actual role as an eccentric, but otherwise typical, member of the right-wing establishment. Fortunately, I think his only hope of achieving prominence on a national scale is if the Tories get so desperate they think they have to try to cash in on his 'fame'.


I think you need to distinguish between a Boris Effect on people like Freedland and an actual Boris Effect. I still find it heard to believe that someone thought that Boris was the face of the London games on Tuesday, let alone on Friday night when the article was published.

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