If gold medals were being issued for the politician to have most enhanced their reputation during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson would be a shoe-in. The Daily Telegraph’s Deputy Editor Benedict Brogan acknowledged as much in his piece on Wednesday, suggesting that the momentum being built by Boris over the past fortnight could even deliver the keys to No.10.
Yet, but a couple of hours later, and in the words of his journalist sister, Boris ‘had won gold in the flying coxless wedgie’ , and Brogan’s piece could no longer be taken with quite the same seriousness.
But does he still have a point? My view is that the Boris proposition is still quite a stretch. Yes, unlike other high profile politicians down the ages, he has a supreme ability to turn gaffes to his advantage, these merely adding further gloss to Brand Boris. And as James Forsyth of The Spectator points out in his blog, Conservative backbenchers and grassroots are becoming disillusioned with David Cameron for his failure to pursue distinctively Conservative policies in Government, and increasingly turning their thoughts to who might one day succeed him.
However, and this is the crucial point regularly missed by those on the right of the Conservative Party, it takes so much more than the support of the Conservative grassroots (a comparatively tiny constituent part of the UK electorate), hedge fund managers and even Rupert Murdoch to deliver a General Election. Cameron could not deliver a majority despite the open goal presented to him by Gordon Brown and, should the time ever come, Boris would lead a party into the General Election way behind in the polls after five years of Coalition austerity policies.
Then, finally, there is the question of Boris the plausible PM – as entertaining and loveable as he is, it will take a braver person than me confidently to send him out to bat on the UK’s behalf at the G8 or European Council. That said, you could at least count on him to make a memorable entrance.