BORIS: A DANGEROUS JESTER, BUT NOT A JOKE

Let us set aside the matter of Mr Boris Johnson's divorce which, by itself, is a personal domestic matter. But let us factor in a history of alleged serial adultery, the alleged fathering of children from extra marital adventures, and lack of inclination to acknowledge them. Because whilst these allegations also concern his domestic domain, they contain within them evidence of his ability to cheat and to lie and to break promises large and small whilst seemingly incapable of accepting responsibility for his actions. These do not suggest to me a temperament or personality suited to the pursuit of public office.

He does have talents, the most prominent of which is an unerring gift for self promotion.  It is this which propelled him to two terms as the major of London, during which time, according to those involved, he was disinclined to bother with the petty details of managing the budget or the myriad problems of the metropolis.  These could safely be left to underlings who lacked his ambition and his vision. (No subsitute for the photo ops of "Boris Bikes" or big red buses.) That vision, then and now, being to propel himself up the greasy pole to  Number Ten Downing Street.

This journey, in parliament and outside, in cabinet and outside, is littered with the bodies of erstwhile colleagues whom he was happy to stab front and back in the pursuit of what he chooses to regard as his birthright.  Old Etonians rarely lack self confidence, but few wear it with such obvious and overweening self regard as the erstwhile Foreign Secretary. Ah yes, his spell as Foreign Secretary. It is one of the great mysteries of recent political times as to why Theresa May chose to reward this dangerous dilletante with one of the great offices of state. Perhaps she thought it safer to have him in the tent, than the alternative. That went well.

The collateral damage from his period in that post is still with us, and still, most tragically with Nazanin Ratcliffe Zaghari, the British Iranian whom he casually asserted had been training journalists rather than visiting her Iranian parents. Just one more  product of his legendary inability to read let alone absorb his civil service brief.  His slipshod error has had a catastophic effect on that family. But his blustering "bonhomie" soon made him, and by definition his government, a laughing stock througout the diplomatic world. Not that their disdain was ever liable to penetrate his iron clad belief in his own genius. 

And let us not forget his sudden interest in Aghanistan, whence he departed at prodigious expense in order to avoid the embarrassment of a Common vote on the third runway at Heathrow.  You will remember his total commitment to stopping this. You will remember he would lie down in front of the tractor.  And now you will remember he fled the country rather than make good any of his previous commitments to that cause.  But of course we must remember with what a clever man we are dealing.

Ah yes, his cleverness. There is still an inexpliable belief, long nurtured by himself, that this is a man with enviable intellectual gifts allied to journalistic excellence.  This is another enduring myth and mystery.  An ability to litter spluttering speeches with Latin and Greek references does not a great orator make.  Neither does the casual use of inappropriate metaphors in his columns - fashioned to ensure more Boris-led headlines - suggest that we have on our hands a comic talent  of Wildean proportions. Like everything else in his life, these are merely the building blocks he selects to fashion his path to the top job.

It is that single minded self centredness which prompted him to discard any vestige of collective cabinet responsibility when he was in office, and to jettison any absurd notion of loyalty to colleagues when he left. His USP, it has long been held, has been his popularity with the grass roots; an ability, it is regularly asserted, to reach those parts of the country other senior Conservatives cannot.  And, let's not forget, his ability to rouse the rabble at conference, no barn left unstormed, no grammatical convention left unmolested. 

At the upcoming Tory Party conference, deprived of a main hall platform, he has instead contrived  to headline a 1000 strong "fringe" rally doubtless designed to showcase himself whilst providing the lieges with a useful comparator to the subsequent May speech, given that public oratory is not exactly her strong suit, even when her throat is untroubled, and the backstage furniture doesn't disintegrate behind her. 

Hmmm. A big, big rally full of the adoring faithful plus the media? How very, very Trumpian.

The notion that this charlatan should ever lead a party let alone a country is frankly terrifying. You might remember that his erstwhile partner in Brexit crime, Michael Gove, advised the nation that he was not a suitable person for such a role.  And Mr Gove, at the time, had just been joined at the hip with Boris for the preceding weeks of campaigning and plotting. He knew of what he spake.

But let us leave the last word on the question of his suitability for high office to the blessed Eddie Mair.  Standing in for Andrew Marr one Sunday, Eddie conducted one of the most searing interviews the blond bumbler had ever endured.  Having recited evidence of serial bad behaviour Eddie asked "you're really a very nasty man, aren't you." Spot on, Mr Mair.