There seemed to be someone else sitting there, as David Cameron blundered his way through the awkwardness of having been caught out by David Letterman. Squint a little and you could see another figure in the chair, slightly more oafish, in an ill-fitting suit, with a splatter of Worzel Gummidge hair muckily arranged atop his cheerily well-fed face.
Ah yes, the prince of wiff-waff. No matter how hard David tries to escape his former school chum, Boris continues to lurk. So much so that you end up wondering if Cameron is trying to be a bit less like himself and a bit more like Boris. Or rather, I don't wonder.
It’s an odd thing to think of, the man in power trying to ape his underling, the lardybus maker of Old London Town. But the whiff of a blustering, silly, “oh gosh what a daft brush I am” Cameron, rather than the public figure we know, could be a sign that poor David is taking the ridiculous Boris more seriously than ever. The Borisification of British politics, you could call it. Time was when we liked bright people, or charismatic people, or (if we were lucky) charismatic, bright people to lead us. Now we make do with a flag-waving tit.
David can try. He can try bleaching his hair, or wearing clothes that were made for Oliver Hardy, but he'll still be him, and that's the problem. Whatever blustering nincompoopiness he attempts to effect, we know he's not really like that deep down.
Reading two or three paragraphs of Johnson's writings (and it's often worth doing) reveals a rather rigorous intellect; it's almost as if there's two characters at work - Boris the Berk and Johnson the writer. Probably the real man beneath the bluster is a combination of the two, but the important thing is this: we accept the public, chaotic, “hoho I’m a bit of a tit”, face as being Boris. He’s used it well down the years to detoxify his Toryness.
It won't be the case with Cameron. We've grown to know him these past few years, as a slightly stern, irascible cove, someone who spits out little barbs at his enemies, tells people to calm down and sneers at his own side. Calm down dear! Nick Clegg's the best joke he knows! BBC cuts are delicious! His jokes fall flat, probably because we don't see him as a jester like Johnson; we see him, or want to see him, as a statesman. That's what he's supposed to be.
More to the point, do we really want David to be Boris? There's something to be said for sincerity over artifice, reality over pretence, integrity over fakery. There's a suspicion that the Cameron of Letterman is just playing a character, whereas Boris really is Boris.
And there's something else, too. Johnson may have won two elections in London, but the most recent victory was not an entirely conclusive one against a highly divisive opponent, Ken Livingstone. With London’s flagship paper backing him all the way and no serious alternative, Boris seems an alternative worth considering. It doesn’t necessarily follow that he can convert that success into gunning for the top job.
I don’t want David Cameron to be like Boris. I don’t like Cameron, but he’s the Prime Minister. I don’t want a Prime Minister to be chortling about on chatshows while the country continues to crumble and Britain continues to be - in the words of David Cameron - Broken. Let Boris be Boris: he’s an occasionally amusing, relatively intelligent man who seems palatable in comparison to awful alternatives. Let Cameron be Cameron: lose the bumbling and look like you’re getting things done. Or better still, actually get things done. There's a thought.
No related posts.