boris for the afternoon? hold on! as his zip line stunt creates an internet sensation, one of his fans warns he’d be a disaster at number 10
by quentin letts for mailonline
published: | updated:
what a good guy boris johnson is. little of it surprises us, most of it delights us.
the latest prank of the mayor of london, and with his amateur background, “prank” is somehow the word for boris, he saw him hanging from something called a zip line.
Zip lines are those things that slide on a pulley that you sometimes find in adventure parks. mayor johnson tried one out at an olympics celebration event.
scroll down to watch the video
the mechanism sank, groaned, stopped. our hero was left suspended, 65 feet from the finish, for five crisp minutes.
He naturally looked like a real charlie. two small British flags in his hand suddenly took on a melancholy air, all the more whiny as he continued to flap them like the wings of a dying butterfly. on his head he carried a large egg cup.
Or was it the birth control cap of a blue whale? it was in fact a helmet, ordered (for revenge?) for health and safety.
‘Help!’ croaked the mayor-elect of the world’s coolest city. ‘get me some rope!’ my kingdom by stepladder.
click, buzz every passerby’s mobile phone rang and images of the latest bonzer boris bob-up trended online before his scruffy black brogues were back on solid ground.
as david cameron said (very generously, given the context), boris johnson defies gravity.
is it possible, therefore, that sooner or later it could displace mr. cameron as conservative leader?
Most other politicians would have been killed for that zip line mistake.
imagine if it had happened to mr cameron himself or his labor opponent ed miliband, or even more precious to that strutting, gulping, overpowered idiot we have for deputy prime minister. Oh, to have a shotgun in case such a calamity befalls Nick Clegg!
but boris comes out unscathed from such a farce. why? for he encourages us and laughter is therefore part of his medium.
There’s no point in making fun of him because he already does it with such charm. there is a shamelessness about him, a rare form of honesty, that even allows him to get away with serially cheating on his wife. he is the john prescott of the thinking woman.
He is the bunga-bunga berlusconi of Great Britain.
It is simply unthinkable that the zip line incident could have happened to a ruthlessly serious figure like Gordon Brown, Margaret Thatcher, or the late Enoch Powell.
Our brains would barely be able to program such an image. but Boris, once again, gets away with it.
good old bozza. only in britain! And we say it with real pride.
How maddening it must be to be a serious Berliner or Parisian and look across the water at the fun we’re having with the mayor of our capital city. Boris is now surely more famous around the world than even the Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg. who is he?
boris is exceptional today for being a high elected official who enjoys a completely benevolent image.
In this time of recession, cutbacks and recriminations, you’re wearing a halo of joy and Olympic crowds, so don’t hesitate to sing ‘boris! Boris!’ and barking at him as he hangs over them like a worn-out yo-yo.
In an age of celebrity worship, this familiarity with voters is an extraordinary asset that should in no way be underestimated. it contrasts sharply with the isolated “otherness” of rival politicians who seem to belong to a remote and indifferent administrative caste.
Not all this is luck, nor bad luck in the case of the zip line, not even reluctance as in the case of his 2009 photocall when Boris came to the edge of a river to clean up some garbage and instantly fell into the muddy water Watch the clip online and you’ll hear a reporter resignedly say, “Classic!” in the background.
one of the reasons we like boris is that, despite his buffoonish appearance, he makes an effort to communicate. it avoids the lazy riffs on clichés deployed by more stale political minds. he understands that at the first mention of words like ‘stakeholder’ or ‘strategy’ or ’empowerment,’ our attention is turned off.
Boris not only speaks excellent English. she also speaks human. the only thing that surprises her is that more politicians do not do the same.
There is another reason for Boris’s popularity (opinion polls currently suggest a Tory party led by Boris would have a Labor force within a single percentage point rather than the minus six recorded by Mr Cameron’s Tories): he doesn’t really have a serious position of power.
London’s mayor is high-profile, but has negligible power. mayor johnson, despite all the attention he receives, is very limited in his executive mandate.
His job description says that he has a responsibility to “promote economic and social development” but cannot change income tax rates or VAT rates.
and by the way, how does london’s “promotion of the economy” fit in with your overblown hyperbole that london will be crowded during the olympics?
lost in space: the mayor of london is above the earth’s atmosphere in this endeavor
boris fancied a bit of self-advertising and had his voice broadcast around the train terminals, practically telling commuters not to bother going to work during the games. It’s turned out to be a costly overreaction, as London looks more like a frontier town before a Wild West shootout. And all because Boris was riding a demagogic vanity drive.
to be fair, the mayor is also responsible, in part, for london’s public housing budget, but relies on the treasury for that money, and the same limitations apply to police and fire brigade oversight .
Mayor’s job is basically that of a glorified transportation commissioner with a fancy office attached. Although Boris plays this role exuberantly, he does not have to make brutal decisions about closing hospitals or schools, nursing homes or regiments.
You don’t have to tell the public sector that the money is gone. he doesn’t have to do the political kitten drowning.
and this is why the “boris-for-tory-leader” speech, which is being widely aired by david cameron’s enemies, is so wrong. boris is sold with a false prospectus. the talk is probably heating up in part because it’s a joyous dream, but also to split right. Conservative activists, beware.
just as we find it difficult to imagine margaret thatcher on a zip line, can we imagine boris johnson commanding troops into battle? would the chiefs of staff take it seriously? If a battle plan didn’t succeed immediately, would you hold your nerve like Mr Cameron did in Libya?
can we imagine prime minister boris being tough on national unions if, say, his government were to freeze public sector wages?
boris certainly hasn’t stood up to that swaggering thug bob crow and his london tube drivers. he supinely caved in to them, bribing them with bonuses simply to show up at work during the olympics, and causing other public sector unions to demand more money for deigning to work during the games.
of all internet virals, the mayor of london will least appreciate this one showing him on the tip of david cameron’s giant finger
can we imagine boris issuing an emergency declaration in parliament after some national disaster like a bank closure, a currency run or a disease outbreak?
the house of commons is a place where it has been a complete failure. during his brief time as leader of the opposition, he failed to earn the respect of the chamber. mps saw through it and detected, within, a man of lesser abilities.
this is surprising given his experience as an eton scholar and president of oxford union, but he is one of the weakest debaters i have seen in the commons.
for the foreseeable future, british politics will require leaders who, like that iron lady from finchley, can say ‘no, no, no’ and make it stick.
Our public finances are going through a time of painful transition. david cameron is not currently losing popularity because he is being too determined and austere.
He is struggling in the opinion polls because he is too soft. and boris johnson, who more than anyone loves to be loved, would be even softer.
Having known him for the better part of 25 years, I happily agree that Boris is magnificent. it is a national gem. He is the master of political nonsense, an international celebrity, a buffoon like no other, a perfect Mayor of London and has much to offer the Tory party, perhaps as David Cameron’s deputy.
but boris is not prime minister. we, and he, would do well to acknowledge that now, before more nonsense is said.