Boris . . .

by Andrew Stuttaford

Charlie Cooke takes a cool look at Boris Johnson over on the home page, while, albeit through gritted teeth (check out the snark in his first sentence), Matthew Zarb-Cousin weighs in on the topic of London’s mayor with some reluctant admiration over at Labour List. Zarb-Cousin clearly sees the danger that Johnson’s brilliantly manipulative shtick could pose to the hopes of Ed Milliband’s retro-Labour:

Boris effectively holds a mirror up to technocracy, parodies the entire means through which we relate to politics, and in doing so has caught the public mood. To the people, the political arena is a circus, and Boris is happy to play the clown. After all, people have more affinity with the clown than the ringmaster.

If rumours are to be believed, David Cameron has conceded in private his belief that he’s a one term prime minister. It is no surprise that many in the Conservative Party and in the commentariat have touted Boris as his ideal successor. What would be the implications for Labour if this became reality? Ed Miliband has worked hard reforming the Labour Party on a policy level. His movement away from New Labour’s market-oriented approach to values and ideas that fit within the Blue Labour framework has been beneficial in informing his position on the financial sector, which has given the party a sustained lead in the polls.

But we still do politics in a technocratic way. Connecting with the electorate requires a transgression from the old way of doing politics, the means that deters so many from political engagement. Boris’ ability to transcend that, to connect with people on a human level, to laugh at himself and not take himself too seriously, is a valuable commodity in the current climate. His stock is high, and if he was to lead the Tories into 2015, I fear he’d absolutely walk it.

That overstates it (see the polling data here), but with Cameron, a clever man without a scrap of imagination, hopelessly out of his depth in his current job, it’ll be food for thought for restless Tories, even if there is no obvious way by which the prime minister could be replaced before the election (due in 2015) which he is currently set to lose.

The Corner

The one and only.