As Mayor of London, Boris Johnson is accountable to over a tenth of the UK population, with responsibility for the smooth running of arguably the world’s most vibrant, dynamic and influential city. Back when the Mayoralty of London was created in 2000, few politicians could have foreseen the danger that this post would create.
Boris Johnson is not an MP. He is not part of the cabinet, or indeed any other government body. He does not need to tow the party line when it comes to legislation, since he is not part of it. In fact, the Mayor is completely independent from any other political programme apart from his duty to the people of London, and his allegiance to the Conservative party. This means he can say and do whatever he wants, regardless of the position of the coalition government. A thorn in David Cameron’s side no doubt – but even he would not dare get rid of the flamboyant and extremely popular Boris.
The Mayor has been very vague on the matter, as is his way. On the one hand, he keeps proclaiming his undivided loyalty to Cameron, saying that he is the man who is needed to turn this country around and put it on the track to recovery. Yet, if this is the case, why is the Mayor constantly lobbying for a new airport in the Thames estuary, rather than the governments’ proposal to expand Heathrow?; or why did he make a point of outshining the Prime Minister during the Olympics this summer, boosting his popularity and diminishing Cameron’s popularity? And back to last May: surely David Cameron could not have missed the irony of losing many council seats throughout the country to Labour, whilst Boris Johnson surged to victory in the Mayoral election in London.
It is obvious that Boris is the most popular politician in the country at the moment, as the polls suggest. It is also obvious that he is clever and witty; likeable and pragmatic. Now would be a very good time to challenge for the leadership of the Tory party: his rather right-winged political stance would appease the backbenchers of the government, who probably fear the direction in which David Cameron is taking them, in order to meet the party’s Coalition obligations, as well as Cameron’s attempt to appeal to the masses by declaring himself ‘centre’. Furthermore, as the leader of the party, Boris would have more chance of getting the Tories into a second term of government because he is a politician who has shown he is not interested in appeasing everyone but who sticks to his promises and his ideology; the sort of ‘no-nonsense’ public figure we need at the moment and who would be voted in, compared with all the career politicians such as Nick Clegg, David Cameron and Ed Miliband.
But the other question is would he deliver? There is no question that, if he wanted to, he could become Prime Minister. But he has shown to us in the past that he is not the most decisive character. He has many ideas, but does not appear to be responsible enough to carry out official and solemn occasions with the necessary decorum. Boris at a state funeral? Boris meeting the US President to discuss economic troubles? Boris speaking at the United Nations about world development and helping developing countries? It just all seems a little too far-fetched.
It has been said on many occasions that Boris Johnson just is not serious enough to run this country. But ask yourself this: who is capable of running a country, with no experience otherwise? Every Prime Minister we have ever had has always been voted in as a popular person, but a person who has no experience in running a country. Some succeed, some fail. Some are more serious than others. But every Prime Minister “learns the ropes” as they go along. As long as the policies are popular, and the professional assistance is there to help the government do their job properly, then anyone can be a Prime Minister.
My summary of Boris Johnson is this: He is a man who has shown capability in the organising and smoothly running of a major world event. He is a strong, influential character who follows ideology and not, public opinion. He is no doubt a leader, a distinct representative of the capital with whom everyone can feel slightly happier. He elevates himself in terms of charisma – a jester above ‘dull’ politics. He is exactly the sort of person who, with a little training in running a vast enterprise such as the UK, and a little time to help prove himself, could easily bring us out of the current economic depression and bring out the ‘Great’ in Great Britain.
So why not?
Contributed by Benjamin Vicary