Saturday, May 03, 2008

Boris Johnson: London has a Celebrity Buffoon as a Mayor

Image by BBDO
Charlie Brooker foretold it with HA HA BORIS !!!1LEGERND!!!1
Unity liveblogged it
Justin calls it the dawn of the dickhead

The thing is, Charlie was right. Loads and loads of people - enough to fill dozens of O2 stadiums - voted for LOL BORIS OFF TEH TV!!!

But this isn't Big Brother. This isn't Have I Got News for You. This is London. This is a world city, entering a recession, with crime and terrorism and housing and transport problems and the Olympics to worry about.

Boris has some good things going for him. He's very clever ( the Boris The Buffoon is just that, an act). I admire his passion for classics. He was in Taking Liberties, objecting to the extradition of the Natwest 3 and ID cards. He looks like he would be congenial company if you were stuck in a lift with him. He is a amusing guest or host on quiz-shows. He might be much more, but, kept on a tight leash by his Conservative handlers, the tee-total tight-mouthed ''serious'' Boris of the campaign was unconvincing: muzzled and monitored and managed, this was not so much a ''new'' Boris as the absence of the old one whose eccentricities, gaffes and gags made him a primetime celebrity.

But the post of London Mayor does not exist merely to add to the gaiety of the nation.
I woke up feeling spooked and pessimistic about what is happening politically at the moment, and what the future might hold.

Did hundreds of thousands of people really turn out for a man whom they considered a tousle-haired joke? If so, how vapid, decadent, and bibble-headed we have become that we will vote merely because the outcome may briefly amuse us. It's the same mentality as registering your religion as '' Jedi'' on the census. A bit of a giggle. A jape to recount to your buddies in the bar. Funny for a good ten minutes, arf. Flat-out embarrassing to recall ten months later.

The joke was never on Mr Johnson; it was always on us.

(No, I didn't vote for him. But I say 'us', because it was a democratic vote and that's who my city elected and we'll just have to live with it. I hope he does better than I imagine)



Blogger fh said...

Agreed, on all counts. I didn't vote for him either, but have to accept my share of the responsibility, having voted for Paddick, a decent man but a poor politician. But I simply could NOT vote for Ken. Not this time, and not even as second preference.

Fingers crossed that the Tories and Cameron want national office badly enough that they keep Boris under discipline. And, in any event, that's certainly what Londoners need to do.

May 03, 2008 5:31 pm  
Blogger Dave Hodgkinson said...

It's all about the team he appoints. Let's hope Richard Barnes gets a good job...

May 03, 2008 5:40 pm  
Blogger Cookiemouse said...

Maybe Boris is a Jedi?

May 03, 2008 6:24 pm  
Blogger Old Fogey said...

My instinct tells me that this was more a vote to get Livingstone out, rather than a positive vote to get Johnson in.There was always an element of "unfinished business" from the Thatcher era about Ken's election in the past. He's had eight years now and closed that chapter. In recent years, however, he has become deeply suspect through the political company he keeps, his growing anti-semitism and his increasing arrogance. The election of Boris was the revenge of the suburbs. The electorate can't be blames for Boris's election. If you want to blame someone, blame Ken Livingstone.

May 03, 2008 7:56 pm  
Blogger fh said...

Ken's vote went up, and he still lost, which means the anti-Ken vote simply got bigger. So, you're right, OF, and it's true Ken had become a divisive figure.

The risk now is that Zone 1 and 2 residents will regard Boris as the suburbs' choice. He needs to be more inclusive than Ken ever tried to be. I'm with Rachel on this: I'm not sure Boris has it in him. I hope he does.

May 03, 2008 11:15 pm  
Blogger Newmania said...

The left have always regarded the possession of a sour face and an infinite capacity for pontificating as the same thing as “serious “. I do not get it and I suspect it is a division in the English soul traceable at least to the Civil War. There is a long tradition of “style “ in which not seeming to be trying to hard is greatly valued . The English garden as opposed to the continental , the Cavalier poets of course and the multitude of English humorists that published in Punch and elsewhere of which Wodhouse the champ. The hysterical under-statement of the British hero in the 40s et al

Boris draws on deep roots in his writing in which he has consciously drawn on this somewhat lost , but glorious tradition. To those of us who have enjoyed it the suggestion by po faced barbarians that he is a “clown” is slightly bewildering . Gentle Geoffrey makes an unprepossessing appearance or two in Canterbury tales , but we can rest assured that Chaucer was not a buffoon . It would appear by the bored indifference to plodding Brown we see that we are still unimpressed with sham “Earnestness” as evinced by this tragic ‘Casaubon’ .Thank God

If you imagine that Ken Livingstone is competent I can only assume it is because he has said so there is no other evidence . Boris is a clever brave and kind man who looks for a balance . He is a true Conservative and he will be a marvellous Mayor .

Don’t be such a misery Rachel.

May 03, 2008 11:30 pm  
Blogger Steve_Roberts said...

Rachel, are you really saying you would prefer an extension of the Livingstone regime ? Well, a million Londoners disagree.

May 04, 2008 12:09 am  
Blogger Dave Hodgkinson said...

Was it an anti-Ken vote or an extension of the anti-Labour vote?

In other words, would Ken have done better if he'd been independent still?

May 04, 2008 12:18 am  
Blogger USpace said...

YEY BORIS! Boris may be a buffoon, but at least he's not a communist one.

Bloody good news! Praise the Lord! Thank God! There is hope for Londonistan. What will Red Ken do next?


absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
elect a communist

someone who will work full-time
to destroy your country


May 04, 2008 3:14 am  
Blogger Simon said...

Ken started out good - then got worse, turning the nations capital into a penalty tax area.
Boris is good and lets be honest, yes he's a baffoon, but one hell of an intelligent one.
As for the thoughts regarding the overall political landscape.
Labour's days are finally over - but as yet I find no party I can vote for - I just wish there was a leader with balls out there, a true statesman. Show me one and i'll vote for them, instead of these wishy-washy idiots we've had ever since J.Major.
They seem to think we all vote on Education and Health - fools!

May 04, 2008 3:21 am  
Blogger Katy Newton said...

Whilst I didn't vote for Boris, I am quite astonished at how many left-wing sites are belittling the "hundreds of thousands of people" who turned out as a bunch of morons who did it for a laugh or out of mindless spite against Ken/Labour. Don't any of you get how patronising it is?

Ken Livingstone at least had the decency to acknowledge that it was his fault he couldn't sway the 2% and not theirs for not wanting to vote for him. If you, Rachel, think that "Boris the Buffoon" is an act, don't you think it's possible that the "vapid, decadent and bibble-headed" masses might have spotted that too?

It is quite possible that some people will wish they hadn't voted for him, though. I voted for Livingstone eight years ago and it's stuck in my throat several times since then.

May 04, 2008 8:04 am  
Blogger Tom said...

"If you imagine that Ken Livingstone is competent I can only assume it is because he has said so there is no other evidence"

Er, he was exceptionally competent for an elected politician in 21st century Britain and although it's too late now there's plenty of evidence of this. Exhibit One would be the actual existence of an integrated transport policy, which you can't come up with without hard work, a grasp of detail and a good deal of experience, all of which adds up to 'competence' in my book (and none of which add up to 'Boris', on current evidence). I suspect, however, that you don't actually want to hear anything that bursts your bubble, so I'm not going to bother going into detail. Pearls before swine, and all that.

I hardly know anyone who admits to supporting Boris, which means it's perfectly legitimate for me to wonder who he'll govern for, apart from the Evening Standard. A very sad day - the final victory of tabloids over technocracy, celebrity over competence. Well, it's been coming for years, but it was nice to live in the last hold out.

Old Fogey - I'm of part Jewish ancestry. If I thought Livingstone was anti-semitic I would have voted for someone else, wouldn't I? It's instructive as to how important racism was to the election that we spent so long listening to rants against Ken that we forgot there were real bloody Nazis standing, with the result that one got elected. Happy now? I'm bloody not.

May 04, 2008 9:28 am  
Blogger JuliaM said...

"I am quite astonished at how many left-wing sites are belittling the "hundreds of thousands of people" who turned out as a bunch of morons who did it for a laugh or out of mindless spite against Ken/Labour. Don't any of you get how patronising it is?"

The age old cry of the thwarted leftie:'The people aren't voting for my policies! There must be something wrong with the people...'

May 04, 2008 9:56 am  
Blogger Jeremy Jacobs said...

You said.............

"I woke up feeling spooked and pessimistic about what is happening politically at the moment, and what the future might hold".

and I woke up thinking we may be just getting back to less government, lower taxes and common sense.

Don't know what planet you live on.

May 04, 2008 12:13 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Jeremy ( and Ian Dale) ask what planet I'm on. A planet which appears to prize visible profile over visible policies, it seems. A protest vote against Ken was part of it, but the choice of Boris as Tory Mayoral choice is telling.

Crowing Conservatives belatedly clutching Boris to their bosom and citing his success as the triumph of rebranded Cameron Conservatism might want to remember how Boris is not and never was a Cameron Conservative ( as the row over amnesty for illegal immigrants showed). Arnold Schwartzenegger proved he could be a surprisingly good Governor, Johnson may transcend his 'bumbling buffooon' brand and turn out to be good too.

Boris being Boris, I doubt he'll stay on message for long. The next 4 years could be interesting...

May 04, 2008 1:09 pm  
Blogger Tina - omme i London aka teeweewonders said...

SIGH - he can only do better than I'm expecting him to do!

May 04, 2008 1:26 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Suburban Tories: Be careful what you wish for. Repeal Ken's car taxes, and you might as well be living in London, 'cos you sure won't be able to navigate the gridlock unless you have a bike or the Tube's not on strike.

For those BJers who say "stop whingeing, he's not that bad": That's what our Tories said about Bush eight years ago.

RE: Arnold and California -- That was one of the great con games of our time. The Republicans pushing the governor recall grossly overstated the state debt, which their target Gray Davis had all but eliminated; then when they got Arnold in, they proceeded to cut taxes, especially on the richest Calis (lower taxes = lower revenue), which of course sent the deficit zooming upwards again. Yet deficits under Republican governors are A-OK, according to our Murdoch-Moon media.

(CA's silver lining: Darrell Issa, the guy whose money financed the recall drive to the tune of $5 million IIRC, had done it so he himself could be governor. But the state and national GOP knew that Darrell the Car Thief could never win the election, so they forced him to step aside for the movie actor -- which meant that Issa had to watch $5 million of his own money get flushed down the toilet. Yes, he cried in public.)

May 05, 2008 1:38 pm  
Blogger Matt Wardman said...

I find it difficult to take the "Boris the TV Buffoon" and "Boris the toff" claims seriously. Ken was on HIGNFY 6 times himself; did those complaining now complain then?

Can they not come up with a substantial political critique?

I'm anti-Ken (based on his contempt for the democratic process - cf the 1979 post-election putsch and other events since), rather than pro-Boris - but those talking about buffoons really need to try a bit harder in my view.

May 06, 2008 5:39 pm  

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