The ever-increasing shades of grey in the world we inhabit are considerably less beguiling than any paperback clitlit erotica. If the Conservatives decide they can replace a colourful hero candidate who has dark grey clouds over his head with a grey lightweight zero, then they richly deserve to die.
While Whitehall mandarins, Tory donors and hard-core Conservative/Labour Remoanoids rush panicking along the corridors of power at the thought of The Blond Bonker becoming Leader, YouGov has been asking thousands of voters up and down the country what they make of the Eton mess.
When it comes to the mass electability of Conservative topdogs these days, all things are comparative. So even if BoJo is far from perfect in the eyes of the myriad unelected élites, things could be a whole lot worse.
He is the Party’s most famous politician at 97%, and comes first for fame among all age groups. His unprincipled thirst for fame is also recognised, such that 47% think he’s an arse and 37% think he’s a good egg; but his popularity is highest among those age groups that tend to turn up at the voting station. This might seem to you like a mixed report, but believe me he’s miles ahead of anyone else wearing the navy blue rosette….and he doesn’t polarise opinion to the degree that Nigel Farage does.
He’s also quite good at hiding his paid-up membership of the connected Bourse élites, although that’s just an informed personal opinion rather than a survey result. By comparison, Hunt absolutely looks the part of the heartless technocratic sociopath, and Gove is just….well, Gove really: there’s something vaguely abnormal about him, and while he can be impressive in person, the main thing you notice is that his lips have the consistency of a jellyfish. You really wouldn’t want to get too close.
What none of the media have reported, however, is some of the other people and things the Borisens like. These include Shandy Bass (it’s a drink not a stripper) and Accrington Stanley (it’s a soccer club not a Lancastrian layabout). It sort of plays against the popular view that Johnson doesn’t play well at the hustings north of Oxford, and this is confirmed by other things his fans like: Fred Trueman, Brian Glover, Ian Rush and Blackburn Rovers.
However, for myself I am mainly impressed by the energy and intelligence the bastard has put into his campaign….and, on this topic I have another purely personal theory: I think a lot of it’s down to his girlfriend.
They moved in together last January, and what makes me certain she’s involved in his newly focused approach is that the lady concerned – Carrie Symonds – has ruled herself out of masterminding Boris Johnson’s leadership bid. This is a little like Denis ruling himself out of bankrolling Margaret Thatcher’s political career.
Carrie’s new(ish) job is with Bloomberg – a company very much part of Boris the Spider’s web. Although the news combine is virulently anti-Brexit, BoJo was a very late convert to sovereign Brexit, and is not entirely trusted by Brexiteers to deliver the goods. Not only am I absolutely certain she is influencing important opinions and handling unexpected endorsements: you can also be sure that, when the sun goes down, she gives him much-needed advice on comportment, soundbites and how to outrun the other horses.
Part of me thinks, in fact, that he may be unstoppable. Last April, a Daily Mail-commissioned survey of Tory councillors and other Party activists suggested that 40% of them would vote Brexit Party in the euroelections. But that same study also showed the defection would be halved if Boris Johnson became Prime Minister. The front runner has always been a favourite at Conservative Conferences, and a guaranteed sellout at local rallies and fundraisers. So the only question left unaswered is how he might be edged out in the approaching “new rules” stages.
The first thing that strikes one is how cumbersome the process is: one candidate dropping out per round. Why not two? Or if those coming 4th to 10th all get (say) under 20 votes, they’re all out. Nobody getting 7% support is going to win, so out they go.
But as the rounds unfold – piddling away yet more Brexit extension time – not only does the advantage once again swing towards Remain, it also gives anti-Johnson cabals the chance to compare notes (and votes) to stop him.
I am also left asking what on Earth is so special about 313 bits of lobby fodder that they get 5-6 goes at doing the wheat from chaff thing, whereas the 56,000 local members get just the one?
The Remain majority in the Tory Party is once more running down the clock while maximising the chances of edging BoJo out via tactical votes.
Nevertheless, if Boris secures a very commanding lead in the First Commons ballot, pressure on MPs not to follow the edge-out tactic would, I fancy, become enormous. It really would look like a Party committing suicide.
Conservative MPs have already had over two years of hari kiri à la May. This could be the factor that (to use one recently well-worn bit of Brexitese) drags Boris Johnson over the line.