Featured image: Wikimedia Commons
I actually witnessed him once, albeit involuntarily, so I can confirm that he is an actual thing and not the product of some public schoolboy’s reckless experiment with pop culture, a bit of anime that goes rogue and aspires to become the mayor of a city on a real planet.
Before he seemingly managed to transgress the laws of physics, Boris Johnson was MP for Henley in Oxfordshire. Many years ago in this constituency, before I could tell my arse from a Tory (getting there), I was watching my uncle note the phallic aspects of a beanstalk in an amateur pantomime when an amiably hurried mammal wearing a cheap knock-off of a human scalp materialised. He cracked a well-appreciated joke about the beanstalk’s height nearly matching that of Gordon Brown’s taxes. I don’t think I got it, but given that everyone else was laughing, I probably assumed he was a genius.
That was it, and then he fucked off. Within a minute, he’d managed to elicit a jovial “oh, he is a character” from my mum, a ‘milk-snatcher’ banner-toting minimum wage enthusiast. Even I would have voted for him, and I couldn’t tell a ballot paper from an arbitrated list of unrepresentative parliamentary candidates, the least likely to make people I know redundant being the ones I approve with black ink.
It’s not just rural, paleoconservative pheasant-fuckers that Bojo has conquered. Seven years later, of course, he seized Labour’s historical bastion of old London-taahn, wherein his exploits have consistently been deemed newsworthy.
“I bet he sneaks about at night dressed as a superhero, perhaps he could lead the UK Avengers,” comments Kevin O’Brien on a Mail Online article that giddily delineates Bojo’s presence at a Met raid on some crack-den two years ago. Me too, Kev, I wager my confidence in the Daily Mail’s commitment to sober, insightful journalism.
For fuck’s sake, Kev, you’re from Liverpool, a belligerently anti-Thatcherite stronghold with a tradition of electing socialist councillors who partake in impractical extremist nonsense like trying to make sure that no-one in the area is homeless or unfed. Considering Bojo’s likening of Red Ed Miliband to Joseph Stalin, I can’t help but doubt that a Liverpudlian’s admiration for Bojo would ever be reciprocated.
Don’t you want to have a pint with him? This jocular gent who once called George Bush “a cross-eyed Texan warmonger, unelected, inarticulate, who epitomises the arrogance of American foreign policy”? If that quote were all I knew of Bojo, by Jove I’d put out to him. I think that would be more exciting than listening to Miliband earnestly drone on about ‘opportunity’ and how to deprive one’s siblings of it. Never mind that Bojo voted ‘very strongly for’ the Texan warmonger’s invasion of Iraq.
No, never mind that Bojo presides over the gentrification of the Metropole and the eviction of the lower classes and minorities. Never mind that, much like an inarticulate Republican, he claims that anyone who objects to a policy making taxpayer fund corporations not pay workers is a loony lefty. Never mind that he shuts down fire departments in order to build luxury housing. Never mind that he is the cheerful, innocuous face of the corporate lobby’s neoconservative agenda – an agenda that is deepening income disparity and reasserting class division, as if Westminster were primarily engaged in helping British families re-enact the novels of Dickens or Zola.
However, unlike his fellow right-winger G-Dubya, he was elected. And his canny slamming of his own ilk is nearly enough to make lazy socialists like myself with a taste for shallow vitriol respect him. Conservatives will no doubt revel in the patriotic fervour induced by sneering at overconfident foreigners. Therein lies the black magic: the proliferation of the various Bojos. At once a pro-gay rights, cosmopolitan, 21st century modern man and a sexist, fox-hunting, Eurosceptic, Imperial throwback. Any image of the ideology that he propagates is lost in his nexus of incongruities and affectedly exasperated criticism of people who complain about anything.
He is a man who can get stuck on a zip wire, hang there helplessly, waving two Union Jacks like a teabag on a Blackshirt march, but also make the most de jure powerful man in the world, Barack Obama, ‘crack up’ by mocking Mitt Romney. He is a hopeless, puppy-haired buffoon, but also the most revered figure of British values since Boadicea. He is becoming the ultimate politician of postmodernity: irreverent, multifarious and self-ironizing.