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The Boris Factor



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By DR ASOKA WEERAKKODY


What is it with Boris? How does he do it?


This is what his opponents are scratching their heads and asking. They are also envious that he has got ‘something’ they haven’t; they are frustrated as without knowing what and how, they cannot replicate it, to their own advantage.


Against all odds and predictions Boris Johnson won a landslide victory in the UK elections. The Pundits said it is madness to call an election in the middle of winter, something which has not been done since 1923; that people do not like repeated elections (third in 4 years); that he will be punished for it and that he ran the risk of being the shortest serving PM since George Canning (1827; 118 days). But he had this uncanny self-belief that ‘we can do it’.


The competitor: According to his family members, from a very early age, he was fiercely competitive; he simply had to win. He did not care much, how. In other words, he has that essential ingredient for political survival – ‘the killer instinct’. He always revelled in swimming against the flow, taking on the impossible and winning. This he demonstrated during his Eton and Oxford days. He wanted to be the President of the Oxford Union. First time he lost as he was a Tory; university students were mostly liberal. He was not discouraged; next time he just ‘changed the shirt’, reinvented himself as a liberal and won.


Doing the impossible: London is essentially a Labour city. Ken Livingston is a hard-left politician (red Ken) and he won the mayoralty easily twice. Third time, whereas the more sensible Tories shied away from the poisoned chalice of the candidacy to face Red Ken in a Red city, Boris breezes into the ring. He gave up the very safe seat of Henley to do so. Everybody said it was madness. Yet, against all odds he won, not just once but twice. He also achieved the distinction of delivering a very successful Olympics. This gave him the licence to claim that a. he can win against all odds and b. he can gets things done (and has never stopped saying so!)


During the conservative party leadership campaign his distractors and the hostile press tried all sorts of tricks to block him. He was called a liar, a serial adulterer, a ‘paternity-denier’ and a ‘wife’-beater. None of it worked – the party members voted for him in droves.


When he succeeded Theresa May, he was called an ‘illegitimate’ PM, without a mandate from the people. He was told he had no authority to govern and specially to implement Brexit.


Although he repeatedly assured that he could and would get a deal before the deadline 31 October, it was said that he was lying (as usual); in any case, that the EU would not negotiate with him; that the time scale was too short; that even if he got some sort of a deal, he could never get it through the Parliament and that he would never get the parliament to agree to an early dissolution. Against all odds, he managed to achieve all those things.  


The intellectual polymath: Unlike his contemporaries he got into Eton, not because his parents were wealthy (they were not), but by winning a scholarship. At Oxford he was tipped for a First Class, which he missed because he was ‘fooling around’ too much. This tendency to fool around earned him the reputation of being a ‘blundering and lumbering buffoon, a joker and a fool’. People who assumed so, have found to their cost that behind this cover is an extremely intelligent and capable being, He tends to encourage this caricature of him to confuse his protagonists.


Boris is not the typical career politician. He came into politics relatively late, and when he did, he was already a celebrity.  Which previous PM would have achieved the following, well before becoming PM or even a cabinet minister:editing a prominent newspaper (The Spectator) and turning round its fortunes;writing a regular column for a national newspaper (The Daily Telegraph);writing around 14 books on topics as varied as Churchill, London, Rome, The British, etc. (true, none of which could be classed as literary greats).;producing and presenting a major TV series on classical Greece;had at least two TV programmes and four books ABOUT him?


The crowd puller: Boris has a certain magnetism about him. People like to see him and to be seen with him. An impartial radio commentator followed him on the campaign trail. He said when it was known that Boris was in town, ladies would rush out of hair salons and shops to have a selfie with him.Sometime ago, Boris took part in a radio program where a live audience interacted with a group of celebrities. One of them who is a declared ‘anti-Boris’ described what happened after the program:"The audience was given a chance to mingle with the celebrities informally. A few people came and spoke to us. There was a very long queue to shake hands and take a selfie with Boris".


The charmer: Most of the people who hate Boris have never met him. Those opponents who did, come away charmed; still against him in matters of policy, but impossible not to like him as a person.


The womaniser: One cannot be a womaniser without willing women; and there is no doubt they are attracted to him. What is different from other celebrities, who are similarly disposed, is that the old flames still remain fiercely loyal to him long after they have been jilted.  There is a story about a female journalist who was despatched to interview Boris. Her editor was planning to publish a very damaging story about his personal life and before he did so, he wanted to give a chance for Boris to comment. (one of the few journalistic etiquettes remaining). Her job was to ‘stick it to Boris’. She was so charmed by the man, she ended up dating him and reportedly sleeping with him!


The leader: Clearly Boris has very many flaws in his character, along with a lot of strengths. The voters are not concerned about the personal lives of the politicians. They do not look for Sunday school teachers to run the country.They want someone who can lead and GET THINGS DONE.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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