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Urrrggghhh! Arrrggghhh! An angel and the devil wrestle for Boris's soul

By Paul Goodman
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Screen shot 2012-08-20 at 10.02.23Devil: Come on, Boris, old bean.  This is your moment!  Cameron is unpopular.  You are popular - loved, idolised, adored: look at the Olympics.  The Party knows that he won't and can't win.  Just look at this morning's borrowing figures - benefit spending up, corporation tax receipts down: Osborne in crisis.  Get back in the Commons now!  Mount a coup!  Take over, call a general election and win!  Go for glory!


Angel  :  Look, Boris, my old chumaroo, this is all a pyramid of inverted piffle.  First of all, being an MP and Mayor is one thing - though are you certain you'd find a by-election that suits? - but being Leader and Mayor is quite another.  There'd have to be a Mayoral by-election - in which case the media and some London Tories would round on you: adventurism, selfishness, abandoning the capital to Labour - you know the score.  Or else you'd have to try both jobs at once - and get the same reaction, but on a national scale.  This is madness, my friend, sheer madness.

Boris: ...Er...ah...

Devil: Bunkum and balderdash!  You can find a way of fudging it!  Look at the polls - the voters want you, and outside London too.  If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly!  Screw your courage to the sticking place!


Angel  : Hang on for a minute.  Take this polls business.  One solitary poll - just one - put you marginally ahead in London and the regions.  But its headline finding put you level with Cameron. Another poll on the same day found you made no real difference.  ConservativeHome found that 18% of respondents want you to lead the Party into the next election.  49% want...Cameron!


Devil: That'll change when voters get a real choice: you or Miliband.  You can transform the mood and change the psychology.  Infirm of purpose!  Give me the daggers!

Boris: ...Er...Yikes!

 Angel : It won't change.  Cameron's problem isn't the current polls.  It's that he's stuffed without the boundary review.  He can't get seven points ahead of Labour, let alone ten points - and that's the kind of lead he needs to form a majority Government. And nor could you! You'd be taking over the wheel of the Flying Dutchman!

Boris: Cripes!...Er -

Devil:  - Let's tackle that head-on.  The boundary review problem will get no easier after an election.  So your bird in the band is worth two in the bush.  You can't afford to hang on.  There may be some other strong runner by 2015, or whenever the election takes place.  Hammond.  Greening.  An unknown!  By 2015 you could be yesterday's man!  They flee from me that sometimes did me seek, with naked foot stalking in my chamber...

Boris: ...Arrgghh...Urrgghh...

Angel : Go on then!  Just try it - and see what happens.  Do you really believe that even if you somehow find a seat, win a by-election, contrive a no-confidence vote in Cameron, and then win a leadership election that there would be no consequences?  Cameron, Osborne and many others would never, ever forgive you. The party's loyalties would split asunder.  Months of intense briefing of the most vile, no-holds-barred, personal kind!  And he who wields the knife, etcetera: remember Heseltine!

Boris: Urrrggghhh!...Arrrggghhh!

Well, dear reader, there you have it.  Those are the arguments either way.  I can't help thinking the angel has the better of them.

But we're talking Boris.  And with Boris, you never quite know what will happen next.  He is the great exception to every rule.  Indeed, I dreamed of him last night. His legs bestrid the ocean: his rear'd arm crested the world: his voice was propertied as all the tuned spheres, and that to friends; but when he meant to quail and shake the orb, he was as rattling thunder...


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