Boris Johnson’s popularity lies in his ability to be himself without caring what others think of him, comfortable in his unconventionality. He is a modern eccentric who thinks laterally and limitlessly, and people love him: he is what many want for their future.
This high profile Mayor of London has his detractors, of course, those who dislike him for his classical education, his political affiliations, his, buffoonery, his adroitness and his effectiveness in his job, but he has managed to create a profile which transcends politics, and more and more his Tory label is being replaced by the Boris label. He is seen for himself – and he is the first to admit that he is imperfect with many mistakes behind him and perhaps ahead.
For some time there has been speculation that he has ambitions to succeed David Cameron, which he has dismissed, saying typically, “How could anyone elect a prat who gets stuck in a zip wire?” (referring to the time the got suspended over London during an Olympics promotion exercise). However, no other politician could have turned such an embarrassment into a public relations success – because he laughed about it and did not care, we did too, though it would have been a different outcome if he were viewed as inept in his role.
I am writing about Boris not to heap praise upon the man personally but because he represents the future. There is boredom, mistrust and fatigue in Britain about the staleness of traditional politics, the rigidity of the Church, the power of the press, the incompetence of bureaucrats and the abuses in the financial system, above all the powerlessness of the people who feel their voice, their vote does not count and will change nothing. Boris Johnson and even a politician like George Galloway attract attention because they are different, and they speak their truth which often is our truth too. They are provocative at least, mavericks who refuse to conform and who fight for what they believe in and what they want, and whose enthusiasm can take us with them. Boris is a leader but in a different way, and this is why a lot of people would vote for this “prat” – and despite his denials, he knows it.
It may not be Boris who introduces a new way of government, but someone will come forward here in the UK, and in other countries experiencing the same political impotence, to change attitudes and conduct in order to take citizens with them rather than alienate them more and more from their sense of national community. It is about transparency and truth, common sense and decency, and, especially, about vision.