A look into a few of Mr. Johnson’s difficulties

At this point in the leadership election, it seems incredibly likely indeed that a certain Boris will become the next leader of the Conservative and Unionist party, and as such also the leader of our United Kingdom. Having recently attended a Gloucestershire event at which Boris spoke, I wish to address the question: what notable obstructions were there in Boris’ rise to his current, very favourable position?

It was once said by Sir Max Hastings, “The selection of Boris Johnson ... confirms the Tory Party's increasing weakness for celebrity personalities over the dreary exigencies of politics. Johnson, for all his gifts, is unlikely to grace any future Tory cabinet.” This was a very common view in Boris’ early political career; although having previously written extensive political commentary before his election as an MP (for twelve years, no less) he still did not command the confidence of all his political peers. Oxford University’s very own Chris Patten called Boris "one of the greatest exponents of fake journalism". It is an indisputable fact that Boris had unfortunate moments in his journalistic career - such as when he (very early on in his career, and on a non political matter) fabricated a quote, attributing it to his god father. As a result of this fabrication, he was forcibly discharged from the first journalistic position of his career. 

Without casting any specific opinions on Boris’s journalistic career, it can still be said that he was set up with an appearance as more of a popular figure, than a serious politician. This was further exacerbated by his unique mannerisms, which can be fairly summarised in the word ‘panache’. When a person calls accusations against himself “piffle”, and those who he sees as doing him wrong “great protoplasmic supine invertebrate jellies”, it becomes difficult not to view him more as a fantastic character, than as a serious man. This has proven difficult for Boris to surpass, the assumption from many being that he is merely a joke that rides his popularity to victory - an assumption which becomes more and more unlikely as Boris’ popularity fails to fade. 

In my opinion many of these quirks of Boris should, on reflection, be of no real issue to the sensible voter. Whether or not someone quotes latin from time to time has no real effect on their ability to govern, after all.

On a more serious note, Boris has often come under criticism for comments which are purported to be on some level discriminatory, or at least insensitive. An infamous such example is when Boris made unfavourable comparisons about how Muslim women look in burqas; in response to his comments, some accused Boris of pandering to the far right. However, it is notable that he was fully in favour of the right to sport such garments as the burqa. Furthermore, an independent panel cleared Boris of any wrongdoing in this scenario, claiming he was fully justified in using “satire” to make his point. Of course, this single instance cannot be representative of all comments made in his career, but no doubt there is ample evidence for many in the electorate to conclude that he is indeed guilty of some misdemeanor in this regard, and for many others to conclude that such accusations are generally unsound. 

This has been a very brief look into some very classic ‘Borris’ issues. Despite having legitimate policies, he still faces intermittent issues with being seen as a legitimate politician. Trump’s image has had a negative effect on how some view the United States of America. I can only hope that Boris’ image maintains a standard above that of Trump’s, and in doing so, does not cause those overseas to unfairly judge us as a nation.

Ben Hack (Publications Officer, Ex-Committee Member, Balliol College) is an undergraduate in his first year of reading Computer Science and Philosophy.