The first time I heard of Boris Johnson, I genuinely thought he was a Little Britain character. I can’t remember exactly when or where I first encountered the floppy twat but I distinctly remember thinking it was Matt Lucas wearing a shite wig playing a parody of a politician. To be fair, I can’t have been older than 11 at the time and I finally found out who he was through an episode of Have I Got News for You that he appeared on. Boris mate, you should have just left it at that really; panel show appearances, the odd charity football match and possibly a mildly successful run on the after dinner speech circuit, maybe even a stand up tour if you were lucky. He may seem like a lovable idiot but the problem with this is that he is not a comedian, this is a man that could one day be in charge of the country. Boris Johnson, minus the reality TV background, is essentially the British Donald Trump. They both have awful hair, a certain air of privilege, detest immigration, rely on their ‘humour’ and ‘personality’ to win over voters and both claim to possess the unique ability to ‘make (insert name of country) great again’ through the power of right-wing populism. He is Farage-lite, using the same idiot-baiting scare tactics but with a subtler, more refined Machiavellian twist. ‘Oh I love Boris, he’s so funny’, the mums of the home counties will say, ‘he’s not like the rest of those weird, slimy politicians like George Osborne and David Cameron’, ‘He just seems like a nice chap’. The problem with this though is that he is not there for our entertainment, he’s there to help run the country and if there’s one thing that JFK, Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela were famous for, I don’t think it was their bumbling slapstick.
Boris’ success can largely be attributed to the fact that he succeeds where many Tory politicians fail; by being a ‘man of the people’. As Mayor of London, he has managed to gain publicity by slapping his name on the bike service, or ‘Boris Bikes’, despite the fact that the idea was conceived and initially put forward by the Labour administration before him. By latching on to this, he has made it literally impossible to walk around central London for more than 2 minutes before you are reminded of his existence. He has argued that he has ‘re-invigorated local economies’ through ‘redevelopment’ and ‘regeneration’, all of which are simply bywords for kicking out all the poor people from inner city neighbourhoods and sticking a Pret-A-Manger on every street corner. He is the ultimate PR man, diverting attention from his government’s social cleansing tactics by relentlessly making jokes and being ‘a funny guy’. The man literally gets praise for acting like a child and, for that matter, knocking them out too. He doesn’t always get it right though; In the past he courted controversy for congratulating a private school for being part of the 2 percent of “our species” with IQs over 130 and there was also the time he told a taxi driver to ‘fuck off and die’. Despite this, he always manages to escape public scorn because, well, that’s just Boris.
Boris manages to come across as like a funny uncle or that teacher who everyone thought was cool because they swore in lessons, a glimpse of normality and light relief in a world of deceptive appearances and carefully crafted public images. The reality in this, however, is that his façade is perhaps the most calculated out of all of his peers. This is a man who studied PPE at Oxford, not just some bloke from down the pub. Throughout his time at both Eton and Oxford he will have been schooled in exactly how to maintain power and for us to simply believe that he is just a bumbling idiot would be to completely disregard all logical thought. An example of this is his recent alignment with the pro-Brexit campaign, a move that he didn’t make until he realised it would give him a chance to further ride out his ego trip and further his chances of being prime-minister. Since then he has simply been going round ticking the boxes, making false claims using false statistics, pathetically trying to target the marginalised groups that he doesn’t want to fuck off back home and being generally derided by all of his peers both in the Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet.
You would have thought that this would hurt Boris but, as we’ve seen in the US with Trump, right wing populism thrives off the disdain from the establishment. The more he pisses off the politicians that nobody trusts, the more he gains trust in the eyes of the general public. We may scorn large swathes of the US for buying into Trump’s shallow egotistical ideology but essentially Boris is just Trump rebranded for the British Conservative audience. I can’t say I’m a massive fan of David Cameron but I would at least like to believe the British public will be able see through his lies, Boris on the other hand, might well have outsmarted us already.