Steve Hilton Guru: A Boris leadership shouldn't be considered a fait accompli - there will be plenty who oppose him
There's a limit to what you can say in 140 characters. Notorious Tweeter @SteveHiltonGuru (not the real Mr Hilton) uses his first blog to examine the firestorm that might meet a Boris candidacy for the Tory leadership.
While many journalists talk about PM Boris as a matter of mechanics, your guru believes many have failed to consider the likely reality in a game defined by lust for power and the forces it unleashes…
As the Boris theories metastasize, uncontrollably the authors overlook one vital factor in their quest to divine the future. Well two, in fact.
Being the Mayor is a job that doesn’t attract serious enemies. You never shut a hospital, preside over heavy job losses, repatriate the fallen, or hike taxes. You may inflame some unions but that passes. All in all, nobody gets too wrapped up in what you actually do (or don’t do) - and if you happen to possess a populist touch, you can fluff up your personal profile. All good news. That is Point A.
Point B is that at election time, nobody is asking too many probing questions. All you need is some waffle about a 9 point plan covering bikes, environment, and whatever. It helps if your opponent has passed his sell-by date and is intent on self-destruction. After little scrutiny, you’re waved straight through by the voters into a summer of Olympic credit-feasting - where your main task is to play the compere, make "hilarious" asides when a camera appears and feign surprise at the inevitable future PM questions.
Let’s fast forward a few years to a leadership scenario, assuming some MP has either kicked the bucket or greased the rails for a Boris anointment. (Advice to self-sacrificing MP: don’t hold breath for your hinted reward. It ain’t coming). It seems various scribes have overlooked the possibility of a virulent and prepared-to-be-deeply-unpleasant opponent. Their idle narrative installs Boris automatically, unchallenged, unscrutinised, untested. Wake up hacks. It doesn’t work like this. It never has.
If I were running the opposing campaign to Boris I would set out to destroy his credibility. I would go for scorched earth. I would immediately reveal and reduce his half-baked ideas. I would take his strengths and reduce them to liabilities. For example, take him from being funny to making him an embarrassment.
To start with, his credible detractors would get a platform to explain his failings. His questionable personal life would morph from rumour to fact. His clowning around would be used to make our country, and its voters, look like idiots. I’d show that his policy and belief cupboard is consistently bare.
And his deep need to be liked, is the very weakest and most feeble quality any leader can posses - cue more anecdotes. I’d explain the bluster routine is entirely fake and used to mask a terrible laziness and lack of preparation.
I’d have a poster of serious world leaders at the G20 or a line of unemployed people looking up as a clown drops in on a zip wire with a cartoonish twanging sound. Oh look there’s a world financial crisis, let’s have some laughs as even more people are forced into unemployment and the personal tragedy of signing on for the first time. How rib-ticklingly hilarious.
His pitiful post-riot appearance would appear on repeat - where he defaulted to moronic stumbling in hope of a laugh, which fell flat on its face. People were heart-broken and he missed it. Without his usual coterie of bossy Tory birds to shove away malingerers, he produced probably the first working example of why he is entirely unsuited for the big time. Your guru is not alone in spotting that.
As his brand decays, and believe me, it will - you then pose a dilemma that people can relate to. Such as: You have a brain tumour with low chance of survival. Surgery is essential. There are two surgeons: the jovial middle-of-the-road chancer who’ll give it a go, or the humourless icy type with an awkward bedside manner, yet stellar credentials. These are critical times. Do you want a laugh or do you want to live?
I could go into greater depth. Talk about push polling, the many journalists that hate Boris, the opprobrium of courting Uncle Rupert, the ranks in Westminster that will suddenly steel up when the PM Boris threat becomes real, newly educated citizens that wouldn’t want us to have our own Berlusconi comedy leader, reducing us to a laughing stock. The eternal appeasement of all sides will end in disaster.
When wealth, tight windows of opportunity, and power collide, things can and will turn really nasty for Boris. I do wish some of the hacks and pollsters vaunting this as a fait accompli would sharpen up and realise that he is courting danger from unrelenting foes that will stop at nothing to frustrate his advance and reposition him from harmless joker, to low grade vaudevillian, soiled, self-serving fool.
On the other hand, I may not be leading the opposing campaign. Boris may hire me, in which case, I offer you the Hartlepool example. A monkey stood for mayor. Everyone had a good old laugh. They woke up the next day and found a monkey in high office. Be warned citizens: It could happen again.
***Actually I rather like Boris and have never thought about much of this till the recent volley of daft articles started to appear, including here on ConHome. I don’t mind him being Mayor, but I don’t want a lightweight joker running or representing my country. This article only hints at the darkness that would come this way if he wants to level odds with being “reincarnated as an olive".