Sunday, 10 August 2014

10 reasons why Tories should think twice about Boris as leader

It is pretty clear that Boris Johnson has his eyes firmly set on a serious run for leadership of the Conservative Party and to become Prime Minister. Many of the Tory chattering class in London are hugely excited at this prospect. The Barnet Eye was pondering whether Boris has what it takes to be Prime Minister and whether or not he'd do a good job. In many ways his run as London Mayor has been successful and his supporters are saying "If he can run London, he can run the country". I suppose that if we apply the Boris supporters logic, then Ken Livingstone would be the best man for Labour PM. Like Boris, Livingstone did a good job of running London and much of the success of Boris has been built on the foundations Ken set up. We all accredit Boris with the huge success of the Olympics and it would be foolish to deny that he did a great job organising them. It was a huge challenge and whatever the legacy Boris leaves when he hangs up the blond toupe (metaphorically speaking), it will surely be his finest hour. It is ironic that it was Ken who did the hard part in winning the bid and many Tories at the time were hugely critical claiming that it was a "waste of money". We must credit Boris with delivering Ken's dream with panache and in the process transforming East London. As to his other successes, perhaps cycling in London is the greatest. The Boris bike scheme has shown that in Central London cycling has a role to play. I also like the Boris bus. The competition to design it was pure genius and as a Londoner I love the sight of them. I think Ken massively screwed up by getting rid of the old Routemasters.

So would Boris be a good choice as Leader of the Tories and possibly Prime Minister? The Barnet Eye believes that Boris has all the characteristics to be a great Mayor and none of the ones required to be Prime Minister. Here are the ten reasons I believe that Tories should think twice before handing him the job.

1. He's a lousy judge of character. The Ray Lewis debacle showed just how poor a judge and how slapdash his recruitment process was. Another example of his poor judgement was his close relationship with discredited criminal Brian Coleman, handing him the plum job of head of London Fire authority. Mr Colemans reign was a total disaster. His unpopularity in the role turned a 20,000 majority at the GLA in Barnet and Camden into a 20,000 loss.

2. He is addicted to vanity projects. The best example of this is the Docklands cable car. This hugely expensive trinket was promoted by Boris as the answer to transport issues in the area. In fact it is simply and underused tourist attraction. Even his fellow Tories squirm at talk of Boris Island.

3. He has a record of being completely ineffectual in Parliament. His previous stint as an MP was a disaster and his Tory colleagues were only too pleased to get shot of him when he stood for Mayor. Most hoped Ken would trounce him and that would be the end of him. He was sacked from his previous front line role by Michael Howard, for telling porkies. Would a man who couldn't hold down a junior front bench role really be able to take the top job.

4. He would be useless at Prime Ministers Questions. As Mayor he has Mayors question time and he is regularly embarrassed, becoming tetchy and irritated. If such inquisitors as Andrew Dismore can rile him so easily, how on earth would he cope with 600 odd MP's, all out to make a name for themselves. Here (courtesy of Barnet Bugle) is just one example of Dismore skewering him. Make no mistake, a bad PMQ performer is doomed (ask Iain Duncan Smith).

Even the Daly Mail has doubts about him. This article sums up many of the concerns - - the only positive they could see in a Boris PMship would be that he isn't Ed Millband. Of course if Boris ever ascended to the throne, the Mail would fall in four square behind him, but equally if it subsequently all goes wrong, they clearly would have no problem ditching him.

5. He loves schemes which burn money and deliver nothing. The outer London fund is just one example of the Boris love of wasteful porkbarrel projects. We've seen a couple of examples of this here in Barnet. The £1.4 million spent on North Finchley tart up (spot it if you can) and the £400,000 spent on High Barnet.

6. Boris has a poor record of concern for the health of Londoners. Ken Livingstone was seriously addressing issues of poor air quality in London. These all ground to a halt as soon as Boris took charge. Thousands of Londoners have died as a result of ill health issues related to poor air quality and pollution. If he cares so little about something he could have sorted out, how can he be trusted to run the NHS.

7. He lacks the trust of other senior Tories. It is no secret that Boris doesn't get on with George Osborne. Yesterday we did see one well known Tory come out in favour of him. Maverick MP Nadine Dorries was spouting lyrically over his talents. I rather suspect that Nadine would catch his eye (given his rep and his background) but I am less than sure that her record shows her to be that great a judge of political reality.

8. He is likely to be an embarrassment to the UK when dealing with other countries. Boris has a long CV of putting his foot in it when travelling abroad or discussing issues relating to foreign countries. He seems to have no concept whatsoever of the realities of diplomacy. His recent claim that all of the problems of the EU could be dealt with simply by having an Inter Governmental Conference is just one example of this extraordinary naivity. If it really was that simple, hasn't it occurred to Boris that Margaret Thatcher, who had far more respect on the world stage than he does, couldn't pull off that simple trick. Whilst Boris may feel he is a far better negotiator and a bigger figure on the world stage than Thatcher, the rest of us will need some convincing.

9. He is untrustworthy and a bit of a nasty piece of work who is easily riled and loses his temper. If you don't believe me, watch this - - and in this clip he tells a Labour opponent to "Get Stuffed" when he can't answer a question - His supporters claim he's always charming and lovely. Five minutes research on the web tells a wholly different picture. Even convicted fraudster Conrad Black said he didn't completely trust Boris.

10. He doesn't really seem to take his job seriously. Two years ago when London was engulfed in riots, did our Mayor take the first plane back? Nope he was too busy enjoying his holiday. In effect London had no effective leadership. When you get the big job, you get the big responsibilities and of all his many mistakes, to me that was the most serious. If he was PM and there was a crisis whist he was sunning himself in Barbados, we can't be sure he'd give a stuff.

Of course I am not a Conservative. I'm not a member of any party. Who leads the Conservatives is a matter for them. I was asked who I thought would be the most effective Leader, should they choose to knife Cameron. If we assume the choice is between Theresa May, George Osborne and Boris, I'd say that May seems to me the safest pair of hands. There is an old saying that the Home secretary is the politicians graveyard job, but she has managed to be calm and efficient. Osborne is a more divisive character. I suspect that the public don't really like him. Then there is the current encumbant - David Cameron. I think history will be very kind to Cameron. I am not a Tory, but I think he's done a good job as PM given the hand he was dealt. When we found we had a coalition government, I think few people thought it would last or that it would deal with the deep structural issues which were destroying the economy. I disagree with many of the cuts and the policies of the coalition, but whatever you think of them, the UK economy is in far better shape now than it was when Cameron took over. I doubt Boris could ever have brokered a deal with the Lib Dems, let alone deliver 4 1/2 years of stable government. My advice to Conservatives up and down the country is simple. Be very careful what you wish for. I suspect that all Boris will do is cause a lot of navel gazing when they should be ramping up for an election. It may well be that the first act of the return of Boris is to deliver a Milliband government. But that won't really concern Boris, will it? As that is probably his best chance of getting the top job.


Wyndham said...

Very interesting piece. I can actually agree with some of your thinking, but believe you have missed something important.

Many thought Boris would not be a good mayor, but he grew into the job. In the same way I believe he can grow into the job of leading the country.

I also disagree with your interpretation of the Andrew Dismore spats: I rather enjoyed them and think Boris did well up against a rather unpleasant man.

Nobody really knows if Bpris will make a good PM, but he certainly will be entertaining to watch.


Rog T said...

The problem with Boris is that he's a loose canon. How would he do? Who knows? I dobt see him as a safe pair of hands. I thonk his lack of ministerial experience is also an issue. I am sure he would entertain but no one really knows at what price. My own view is that he's nowhere near as bad as his detractors make out and nowhere near as good as his supporters make out.
Genuimely not sure if hes an Emperor on the Nero or Augustus model?