Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Why Boris Johnson should never lead the Conservative Party


I'm a Conservative. I've been a member of the Party for nearly forty years - much longer than the current Mayor of London. And I am deeply worried that Boris Johnson may become the leader of what I see as my Party.

Let's be clear that this isn't about the Darius Guppy affair. It's not about Boris's inability to keep his trousers on and his serial infidelity. Nor is about his seeming shallowness, the jolly old Boris image all bluff and bluster, bonhomie and bounce. My concern is about what Boris Johnson has done, tried to do and proposes to do as Mayor of London. For me this is the absolute measure of the man and whether he should be allowed anywhere near the leadership of the Conservative Party.

I'm like lots of you. I love Boris, he is charismatic, exciting, different from the average politician. Boris is one of the people with the ability to make you smile, look up and listen - or at least think you're listening and not rather basking in the sunshine of the Mayor's personality. Only - dare I say it - Nigel Farage comes close to Boris Johnson in that sense of approachability. Boris is that rare sort of politician who'll get taxi drivers to peep their horns, and builders to yell his name out as he passes. And all this makes him the most dangerous sort of demogogue - someone who can persuade us to accept what we wouldn't accept from the regular sort of politician.

I also like the fact that Boris Johnson is Mayor of London and not Ken Livingstone. Boris is a much, much better Mayor of London than Ken. But then my cat would make a better Mayor of London than Ken. I like - or rather Londoners should like - the fact that Boris has managed to persuade the UK government to continue pouring nearly all of its limited infrastructure spending into London. This is pretty effective lobbying - with both Labour and Conservative led adminstrations in Westminster suckered into making London their investment priority.

The problem with Boris is simple. He likes government's bossiness all too much. This is the man who thinks it a good idea to buy some second hand water cannon to hose the unwashed and unwanted off the capital's streets. This is the politician whose first act was to impose a blanket drinking ban on the tube just to get a headline. And this is the leader who has supported bans on drinking outside pubs, curfews and the imposition of bouncers on suburban pubs.

Boris, when he got to be Mayor, looked around for a soulmate and found it in Michael Bloomberg, then the Mayor of New York. And Boris, capitivated either by Bloomberg's charm or his billions (hard to tell really), lapped up Mike's particular brand of municipal fascism, a world of bans and controls, greater police powers and the demonising of the homeless, the fatty and the smoker. This nannying fussbucketry has been embraced with enthusiasm by Boris - a man whose private behaviour belies his political desire to boss other people around about the way they live their lives.

Today the crysalis has cracked open and the complete Mayor Boris butterfly has emerged. What a splendid creature it is - a blonde, bouncy worrywart, a gaudy tousled version of Mike Bloomberg, a municipal fascist with a smiling jokey manner. Today Boris has announced proposals to ban smoking in parks and squares, minimum pricing for alcohol, controls and bans on fast food and a host of officious 'nutritional' information on restaurant menus. I'm sure that, given half a chance, Boris - channelling the Bloomberg model - will be taxing fizzy drinks, closing down street vendors and banning horse-drawn vehicles.

Once upon a time the Conservative Party was about choice, personal responsibility, tolerance and freedom. It seems this only applies - in the world of Boris Johnson - if you choose the approved lifestyles and directed behaviours of London's authorities. If you're a smoker, you're to be hounded even further to the margins of society - not for reasons of health but because Boris Johnson has decided - urged on by the health fascists - that you are not normal. And if you want to start a business selling kebabs or burgers, you'll be excluded from much of the capital's high streets by the planners.

This is not the Conservative Party I joined as a fifteen-year-old in 1976. But I am watching as privileged silver-spoon chewing men like Boris Johnson swallow the anti-choice, anti-freedom line of public health directors, chief constables, doctors and council chief executives. I am watching as the political party I have given so much to is destroyed by people who think there's something right in telling people they aren't normal because they smoke. People who want to give the police military hardware because they've lost the trust of big parts of the population.

There are still plenty of people in my party who still believe in choice, independence, freedom and personal responsibility. It's just that Boris Johnson isn't one of them. And if he - god forbid - ever leads my party, I shall have to think long and hard about whether to stay.


1 comment:

Junican said...

I think that Boris was conned into creating another quango. Now he must make the best of it that he can. Silly boy! How did he allow himself to be persuaded that another (anti-pleasure) quango would be any different from the others?
Personally, I think that it is wonderful, since it shows the enormity of the confidence trick which has been pulled over the last several years.

The Tory Party should remove those MPs who pretended to be Tories in order to push the tobacco control agenda. You know who they are. They need to be removed because they shamelessly use 'the children' to silence you.