Can Boris bandwagon roll all the way to No 10? Don't bet on it

Sep 11, 2012
The Mole

Boris for PM euphoria will be short-lived because he doesn't have enough friends in the Tory party

BORIS JOHNSON won the gold medal for stealing the show at yesterday's London Games parade, increasing the pressure on him to run for Parliament. Westminster hacks Tom Newton Dunn (The Sun), Kevin Maguire (Daily Mirror) and Paul Waugh (Total Politics) all tweeted that David Cameron used Boris as a human shield to avoid being booed like George Osborne.

Boris 'high-fived' the crowds as the parade slowly moved to the Mall. He was cheered like a pop star. The crowds even chanted his name outside Buckingham Palace where he got away with a risque joke about the London Olympics creating such joy on the sofas of Britain that they not only inspired the next generation, they also probably created one.

The Olympics had come to a "final tear-sodden juddering climax," he added.

Even Boris's reputation for womanising has not damaged his chances of one day leading the Tory party, it seems. Nor has his Eton and Oxford background. Normally there'd be no chance of one posh boy being followed into Number Ten by another. But normal political rules seem to have been suspended for Boris.

Coming only 24 hours after the Mail on Sunday's claim that Boris had held secret talks with Zac Goldsmith about taking over his seat to oppose a third runway at Heathrow, Boris's appearance at the Olympic parade had Tory grassroots supporters  - particularly women - blogging to the Mail that Johnson should go for it.

The man himself tried to laugh off that prospect, dismissing talk of challenging Cameron as "complete cloud cuckoo land".  But it has not stopped the Boris speculation – and this morning it is greater than ever.

Despite Boris's protestations that he won't return to Westminster while he remains mayor of London (he has four years to serve, taking him up to 2016, a year after the next general election), even the bookies think he is a good bet.

William Hill are offering 5/1 that Boris Johnson will become an MP before the 2015 General Election – and 6/1 that he will be Prime Minister before 2020.

The only problem for the Boris backers is that while he might win in a presidential-style race - the London mayoralty is the nearest thing we have in Britain to a presidency – a political campaign based on personality alone just won't wash at Westminster.

Boris does not have a gang of backbenchers drinking to the 'king over the water'. He would find it difficult to fill a taxi with Boris-ites. He's too much a maverick to have built a constituency of supporters during the seven years he spent as an MP.

He gave up a perfectly safe seat in Henley. Why should the voters in Goldsmith's Richmond constituency act like doormats to give Boris an easy way back to Westminster? The fact is, after the euphoria of the Games has gone, they would almost certainly reject Boris.

Cameron today is certain to be wondering what to do to stop Boris dominating the upcoming Conservative annual conference, which is supposed to be his fight-back. The answer is to do nothing. The Boris Bubble will surely burst, just as the Olympic flame was eventually snuffed out.

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Regardless of "will he/won't he?" - at least Boris is a man who is not afraid to court controversy - that simple fact distinguishes him from people like Cameron - who will remain a nonentity until he develops some back-bone - both in dealing with the Lib Dems and, more importantly, Europe. Boris and Cameron might share similar backgrounds but that is where the similarities start and end.

Cameron perpetuates the impression that he is a Tory "rich boy" - he seems incapable of identifying with the wider electorate and, as a consequence, he simply "doesn't get it" - Boris does "get it' - he knows what beats in our breasts - he understands our frustration and impotence - he understands that Cameron has promised much and delivered very little - Lib Dems notwithstanding. Time to move aside Cameron and let a man of the people give us back our country.

Chris, am I right in thinking that in your view people who don't vote Tory (or UKIP) are all traitors?

Even Sally Bercow ‏@SallyBercow
tweeted "Yes, have total Boris crush #observantTweeple #sorrycomrades. Tory toff but in touch - & takes Dave to task. Next best thing to Ken :-)"

I believe it's unlikely that Boris will go for leadership of the tories, regardless of Private Eye's conviction - if nothing else, it's too much like hard work. But I certainly wouldn't rule him out.

Let's face it, the backbenchers are a bunch of sheep; once they see change on the horizon, it's "The King is dead, long live the King" - any commentator betting on back-bench loyalty is on the wrong cigarettes.