It is by now broadly accepted that the Conservative Party has become hugely unpopular in Britain and – as things stand – will probably lose the next general election to Ed Miliband’s Labour Party.
As to why the Tories are struggling, everyone has their own theory. Mine is that David Cameron is not a conservative at all and that this by itself provides ample explanation for his failures at the ballot box. In America, to be sure, Cameron would almost certainly be (or be compared to) a Democrat. His programme of moral liberalism, light-touch welfare reform, and open door immigration would not clear a single Town Hall meeting, let alone national campaign. His voter base has been consistently exasperated, driven into the arms of fringe elements on the centre and distant Right.
But with that said, all is not yet considered lost for the party of Churchill. The Conservatives have an ace in their pack. His name? Alexander ‘Boris’ De Pfeffel Johnson.
It’s true to say that no politician in Britain is held in greater affection than the current mayor of London. His rehearsed stupidity and uncensored poshness, his giggle-inducing persona, honed on chat-shows and panel games has transformed man into myth; an archetype we might call the cuddly anachronism.
Reflecting this goodwill, most national polls suggest that if Johnson, and not Cameron, was leader of the party, the Conservatives would be gliding to a sure majority in 2015, leaving even UKIP choking in its dust.
But is Johnson actually a Conservative? This is an important question to ask, especially given the name of the party he may one day represent.
My own view is that not only is Johnson barely a conservative, he is barely a politician at all. I don’t believe his muffled, engineered-to-be-endearing patriotism has any root in personal sincerity or a coherent worldview. His shape-shifting position on immigration alone, from opposing it – to (more recently) supporting it, speaks volumes. He has also modified his views (many times) on UKIP, Islam and Iraq with the same speed and apparent ease.
But don’t take my word for it; The wonderful journalist Sonia Purnell has performed an invaluable service in documenting the artificiality of Johnson’s presentation and the failings of the man behind it:
“Many in and outside the Conservative party have started talking about “when” and “how” Johnson will become prime minister, rather than “if”…” She wrote “The startling omission in all this outburst of Boris-mania, however, is whether he “should” be considered as a prime minister at all. Before we get too carried away by the cult of personality, it may be worth glancing at his track record. Any whiff of scepticism – well-founded or not – over the zipwire show (at the 2012 Olympics) should be judged in the context of Johnson’s extraordinary record as a performer. Those wonderfully spontaneous bumbling speeches, such as the Conservative party conference one that so baffled Arnold Schwarzenegger, are meticulously planned. Former staff reveal how the pauses, the non sequiturs, the rambling tangents are studiously prepared; the most successful jokes and “off-the-cuff” Boris-isms are rehearsed and recycled.” – (italics added).
Why should the office of prime minister be considered so cheap as to be open to this deception? Boris is an act; a lie sold to the public of a great country. He must always be considered in this context before any other.