Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Imagine.

THE date is ten years hence.

The worst recession in 50 years is behind us, thanks to a combination of early austerity cuts by the blues and a boost to public spending by the reds who succeeded them.

Riots by a forsaken underclass which set the capital ablaze are a distant memory, and the poorer classes are now kept in their place. British sport has returned to its usual, desultory, form. David Beckham has been knighted, Prince Charles became the first man to be pampered to death, and Simon Cowell moved to the moon taking the X Factor with him.

In Downing Street is a man who was one of the more boisterous members of the Bullingdon Club when he was at Oxford. He studied Classics in the original Greek and Latin, is descended from all the royal houses of Britain, and has a habit of hopping into young ladies' beds.

He is repeatedly found out lying - to others in his party, over statistics bent for his own ends, and over his muddled private life.

A decade after Fleet Street suffered its greatest scandal over revelations of dodgy journalism, the man running the country used to be one himself. He was once fired for making up quotes, and used his contacts to help criminal chums keen to beat up nosy journalists.

He refused to legalise gay marriage on the grounds it would lead to people marrying their dog; he brought back hunting with hounds saying he enjoyed the sight of intestines pouring onto grass; he cancelled the minimum wage, sold off social housing and greets foreign leaders in embarrassing ways. Female ones are goosed and forced to endure speeches filled with double entendres, while African statesmen are met with the phrase: "Tally ho, me old picaninny! Show me that watermelon smile!"

He is very clever though, and in between the official business of running the country he manages to fit in writing books, being paid thousands for newspaper columns (*jealous face*) and frequent appearances on TV programmes. In fact, he's on TV more often than he's at his desk.

Because on his desk there are statistics. Overhead projections, charts, graphs, paperwork, red boxes, and Post-It notes. Around the desk are a big group of people all waiting to talk to him - the Chief of Defence Staff, the governor of the Bank of England, policy wonks, secretaries, his wife and a few ambassadors.

The desk is where the work is, and it is where, as much as he would like it to be otherwise, the man running the country is bored. So he's off impregnating a posh young lady, or writing a speech about Thermopylae, or cycling around his capital waving at people when they shout at him.

When he was elected people chanted his name, because he was so likeable and popular when you didn't have to think too much about what he actually did. You could enjoy how clever he was, and laugh at his choice of words, and it was as mild and amusing as listening to a slightly-racist uncle drunk at a wedding.

He has been doing all this for a few years now, and while he still seems quite good fun people have started to feel it's time he's a bit loud and it's time he went and slept it off.

Boris Johnson - for it is he - is exactly the person you want on your side if you're arguing in the pub about why Britain is historically better than anywhere else. He is the person you want to rouse the troops before a final assault on Agincourt, and the guy you'd like to be making speeches on the radio if we are thrust into a Third World War and Churchill doesn't rise from the dead.

He's the bloke you'd love to buy a drink for and not notice he didn't return the favour. He's the funny, chubby chap you'd happily leave your wife alone with until it was too late. He is the shabby British bulldog who might not be a gentleman but will always take credit for being one.

But then, Boris will take credit like someone already ten grand in the hole to a loan shark. The Olympics are really his predecessor's legacy, but to watch Boris enjoy it you'd think he'd built the stadium by hand. It is funny to watch two Buller boys who hate each other on a podium saying how great the games were, but it would have been funnier still to watch either of them applaud Ken Livingstone.

It's funny to watch him dance to the Spice Girls, and dangle from a zip wire. But the principal reason he's Mayor of London today is that he's not Ken, and the main cause of his being touted as the next Tory leader is because he's not the man who's in the job now.

Regardless of your politics it would be difficult to argue that David Cameron is particularly clever, and it is as hard to pin a principle on him as it is to staple jelly to the wall.

If you want to find the tiny grain of public spirit which sets most politicians on the road to power in the first place, you would need two Camerons and a Large Hadron Collider to smash them together at speed.

If you doubt me, imagine how he would react to being ousted. Would he drag his heels for years about handing over the reins to a successor, like Blair? Would he be driven away from Downing Street with tears in his eyes, like Thatcher?

No. He'd be on the international speech circuit with a villa in Umbria quicker than you could say 'Oh look, it's the taxman'. The same goes for most of those in power with him, and equally for the reds in Opposition. There is no differentiation between them, aside from the colour of their ties.

That, and that alone, is why thousands of people chanted "BOR-IS! BOR-IS!" yesterday outside Buckingham Palace.

It's not because he's brilliant, or a particularly good choice. It's because he's not any of the Eds, or Dave, or Nick, and he keeps us entertained instead of making us bored or disenchanted. He is clever, he is passionate, he has purpose even if it is to be "king of the world" as he used to precociously insist as a child.

If we're honest, we don't really want a Prime Minister who makes orgasm jokes in public, calls black people names, can't keep his trousers up and avoids his desk whenever possible.

And if we wind up with one, it will be because every other candidate failed us as well as themselves.

Enjoy Boris by all means - but whether you are blue, red or yellow, you really ought to hope like hell that someone comes along who wants to do the job because they'd be good at it.

Not just because they think it's their rightful place.

This is his rightful place.