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This is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, commonly known as “Boris”, the Conservative Party’s candidate for the Mayor of London.  Voting is tomorrow, 1st May 2008.

Wikipedia has wicked information on Boris whose early life began thus:

“Johnson is the eldest of the four children (including Rachel) of Stanley Johnson, a former Conservative MEP and employee of the European Commission and World Bank and his first wife, painter Charlotte Johnson Wahl, the daughter of Sir James Fawcett, a prominent barrister[4] and president of the European Commission of Human Rights.[5] (Stanley Johnson also has two children with his second wife.) On his father’s side Johnson is the great-grandson of Ali Kemal Bey, a liberal Turkish journalist and interior minister in the government of Damat Ferid Pasha, Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire who was murdered during the Turkish War of Independence. During World War I Boris’s grandfather and great aunt were recognised as British subjects and took their grandmother’s maiden name of Johnson.

Johnson was born in New York and educated at the European School in Brussels [5], Ashdown House and then at Eton College, where he was a King’s Scholar. He read Classics at Balliol College, Oxford as a Brackenbury scholar, and was elected President of the Oxford Union, at his second attempt. It has been claimed by Frank Luntz[6] and Radek Sikorski[3] that, tactically, to gain the Presidency he touted himself as a supporter of the Social Democratic Party, then a dominant current at the University, though Johhnson denies that he was more than their preferred candidate. While at Oxford he was also a member of the Bullingdon Club, an exclusive student dining society known for its raucous feasts, and was involved in the British-Arab University Association. He was a close friend of Darius Guppy, who was later convicted of fraud, at both Eton and Oxford.”

Read the rest here:

So far, so good, one dodgey friend aside. Lots of clever boxes ticked. I am preternaturally diposed to like those unusual characters who have been King’s scholars at Eton, but I make an exception for Boris for a very particular reason. 

A while ago, but not that long ago, I was part of the audience for an edition of Question Time.  Question Time (for those who don’t know) is a programme comprising topical questions posed to a panel made up mainly of politicians and the “Commentariat”.  The show is hosted by old timer David Dimbleby and moves around the country with its portable studio.  The conversation is invariably lively and the audience’s contribution is generally indicative of the nation at large.  It is a useful litmus paper, watched by those who need to know what the country thinks.  Anyone may apply to be in the audience, but the selection process is not transparent.  I found myself chosen, and to my delight (but not surprise) so was my Muslim girl friend.  Together with another acquaintance we sat on the very back row, mere observers since none of our carefully prepared questions had been chosen to be panel fodder.  High above the stage, we had a perfect bird’s eye view of the members of the panel which included Boris Johnson and the gamekeeper-turned-poacher human rights activist Shami Chakrabarti, constantly in the media’s eye.

My opinon of both of them changed irreversibly that evening in the period before the programme went live, when nobody who mattered was watching.  My opinion of Ms Chakrabarti took a dive as I watched her fawn over Boris, leaning over him, stroking him.  My stomarch lurched. This was Shami Chakrabarti, left-wing rabid human rights activist, oozing over Boris Johnson, editor of the right-wing Spectator, former member with David Cameron of the despicable Bullingdon Club, and buffoon of the Conservative Party.

Bullingdon Club, ready for a night out.  David Cameron, back row, one in from left.  Boris, blonde, front row

And Boris?  What did he do to earn my disdain?  Why, he frequently, even once the programme was live but he was off-camera, messed up his hair quite deliberately.  He ran his fingers backwards through his white mane, flipped locks from left to right, ensuring that he presented the dishevelled appearance that is his trademark but which I now knew to be just an affectation.

Boris’s Bendy Bus being blown up by Bond

Watch Boris at his best here, standing up to Jeremy Paxman on replacing “bendy buses” with good old fashioned routemasters, his best hope for the regeneration of London.

Or here, in a very amusing clip from Have I Got News For You (stick with the patchy bit in the middle) getting stuck in a conversation about his friend, the fraudster Darius Guppy.  He is hung up to dry by Ian Hislop, the cheeky gnome, whose editorship of the satirical weekly, Private Eye, has given him a great deal of practice in catching people out, like Boris, for instance …

If Boris wins, it will not be a vote for Boris, but a vote against Brown.  Brown may be not the most charismatic leader this country has ever had, and I wonder what Simon Baron Cohen would make of his ferocious intelligence, but he is honest to the core.