Published on April 6th, 2013 |
by Joe Lo
Image © John Hemming
Boris Johnson – a Thug with Funny Hair
A poll last September showed that Alexander Boris De Pfeffel Johnson was by far the most popular British politician ever. Indeed he was pretty much the only one that is liked by more people than disliked him and it’s not hard to see why. A quick YouTube search unearths some classics: Boris on a zipwire, Boris on Have I Got News For You, Boris arranging for a journalist to be beaten up.
The first two are funny, the last one isn’t. In fact, it’s shocking and, for me, means he’s unfit for any position of power. What’s just as shocking is how little this incident is mentioned in the mainstream media. Since the recording was made public Boris has run in three general elections, been made a shadow minister and been elected as Mayor of London twice. Our media prides itself on harsh scrutiny of those running for public office but how many times have you heard the incident brought up? I’ve heard it mentioned twice. Firstly, on Have I got News For You where Boris showed expertly what you can get away with by sporting a sheepish smile and pretending to be stupider than you are. Secondly, two weeks ago in this interview with Eddie Mair, when Boris wasn’t prepared for it, let his mask slip slightly and looked a fool. Compare this relative silence to the vitriolic scrutiny Ken Livingstone’s tax affairs received in the 2012 Mayoral election and, in my opinion, you have exhibit A of the media’s bias against the anti-establishment Left.
Maybe I’m being too harsh though. Maybe the phone call was an uncharacteristic moment of madness from someone trying to help out an old University friend? Except it’s not an isolated incident. As Eddie Mair pointed out last week, Boris has form as, in Mair’s words, “a nasty piece of work”. Mair confronted Boris with the fact that he was sacked for making up a quote while at the Times and lied to Michael Howard, then Tory party leader, about an affair. This doesn’t bother me too much. I expect journalists to make things up and men to lie about affairs. In fact it wouldn’t really be an affair if he wasn’t lying about it and, if I was having an affair, Michael Howard would be one of the last people I’d tell. What does bother me is the arrogance of of Boris’ university days. At Oxford, along with David Cameron, Boris joined the Bullingdon Club, a “dining club” for the super rich which specialised in destroying the room in which they were eating and then paying the owner extravagantly in compensation. More specifically, Boris and Dave’s generation of “Bullers” threw a flowerpot through a restuarant window. Six of them were arrested but, according to witnesses, Boris, Dave and two others got away. Boris was subsequently so proud of the incident that he falsely claimed he had been arrested for it. This is worth bearing in mind next time protesters resort to property damage and are condemned by the stern-faced Mayor and PM.
So Boris is a thug but what of it? What is the social cause of this kind of thuggishness? In the aftermath of the tragic Phillpot murders it seems fashionable to blame entire social classes for the actions of an individual so I’m blaming this one on the anti-social ruling class and a system that allows such a class to exist. In a recent BBC documentary Boris Johnson’s sister said that, from an early age, Boris “realised that life was a competition” which obviously he wanted to win. This is a view of life that powerful people often hold and try to propagate. This is unsurprising as, by definition, the powerful are the ones winning that competition and, with social mobility as it is, their kids will be born ahead in that competition too. The problem with seeing life as a competition is that competitors who are serious about winning will do anything they can to win and won’t let the rules of the game (or fairness) stop them. In the same way that Diego Maradona didn’t let the first rule of football, (don’t use your hands), stop him winning the World Cup, people like Boris Johnson won’t let basic human decency get in the way of their ambitions to lead the country. So unless we change the rules of the game and build a society that rewards compassion, cooperation and community people like Boris will keep coming into power by any means necessary. He is pretty funny though.