Boris can make it to No.10 - not if Max Hastings can help it

Comment

Opinion digest: The Boris debate, the importance of children's TV, US-China trade stand-off

LAST UPDATED AT 13:13 ON Wed 10 Oct 2012

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BORIS HAS WHAT IT TAKES TO BE PM...
HARRY MOUNT ON BORIS JOHNSON THE COMEDIAN
Can Boris become emperor – or is he doomed to become the eternal jester of the Conservative Party, asks Harry Mount in The Daily Telegraph. Boris's reception in Birmingham for the Tory party conference was like the "spontaneous outpouring of joy that greets Peter Kay at one of his stadium-filling shows". In fact, Boris is a brilliant stand-up comedian. While David Cameron fends off attacks on his privileged background, Boris plays up the poshness and the brains, and then gets cheered for it. Boris gets away with it because, like a great comedian, there is an element of self-mockery. He is also personable, remembering people, chatting to them and leaving them with what Boris yesterday, talking of the Olympics, called a "Ready-Brek glow". He also has a kind of "bullet-proof armour". Scandals that would bury other politicians just bounce off him, helped on their way by a well-calibrated joke. "The Ready-Brek glow and the bulletproof armour make for a unique, powerful combination. A third element - the acquisition of a magic carpet, destination 10 Downing Street - is no longer the stuff of fantasy."

GOD, NO! BORIS MUST GO NO HIGHER!
MAX HASTINGS ON BORIS JOHNSON THE EGOMANIAC
Over my dead body, says Max Hastings, the former editor of The Daily Telegraph who hired Boris as a young journalist back in 1987. Hastings agrees that Boris makes a good speech and is popular with the public, especially the young. BUT - "If the day ever comes that Boris Johnson becomes tenant of Downing Street, I shall be among those packing my bags for a new life in Buenos Aires or suchlike, because it means that Britain has abandoned its last pretensions to be a serious country." Hastings, writing in the Daily Mail, says he would not trust Johnson with his wife or his wallet. "He is also a far more ruthless, and frankly nastier, figure than the public appreciates." The London mayor’s former boss concludes: "He is not a man to believe in, to trust or respect save as a superlative exhibitionist. He is bereft of judgment, loyalty and discretion. Only in the star-crazed, frivolous Britain of the 21st century could such a man have risen so high, and he is utterly unfit to go higher still."

THE IMPORTANCE OF CHILDREN'S TV
ANNE WOOD ON CLAIMS THAT KIDS SHOULD AVOID THE BOX
Those who cast doubt on the acceptability of television as a resource for parents and children are behaving irresponsibly, says Anne Wood in The Guardian, following the publication of studies that warn of the danger to children of too much screen time. "There is a long and highly responsible tradition of excellent programme-making for young children in the UK." CBeebies is one of the most "highly valued" services offered by the BBC. "It is a lifeline for many hard-pressed parents when the reality of family life means that there are occasions when children will be watching on their own... Programmes shared with children can develop ideas that transfer into active play and story-making." British children's TV is currently being starved of cash and is an easy target. "We should not devalue it, allow others to devalue it by distortion, overlook it, or simply stand by while it is damaged beyond repair.

US AND CHINA MUST AVOID A TRADE WAR
THE FINANCIAL TIMES ON US TREATMENT OF CHINESE FIRMS
The United States should be careful that in blacklisting the Chinese telecom firms Huawei and ZTE it doesn't trigger a trade war it can ill-afford, says the Financial Times in a leader. The US Congress has recommended the two companies should be banned from government procurement and merger or acquisition activity because they are suspected of having links to the Chinese military. The decision has "protectionist undertones", yet "at a time of rising fears about cyber warfare, the first onus must be on the companies to open up to greater scrutiny". Huawei remains evasive about its ownership structure and its founder is a former member of the People's Liberation Army. However, if Huawei and ZTE are blacklisted, the prospect of China instigating sanctions against US companies cannot be ruled out. With both countries going through political upheavals, the danger of ramping up trade frictions is real. "Whatever the merits of the case against Huawei and ZTE, the risks of a trade war must be contained." · 

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