I rejoiced - and then Brown began to speak

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  1. Good old Boris! Hitting that nail on the head…

    I rejoiced - and then Brown began to speak

    By Boris Johnson
    Last Updated: 12:01am BST 28/06/2007

    Have your say Read comments

    You know what, I decided about lunchtime yesterday that I couldn't take any more. The whole thing was turning into a blubfest of nauseating proportions. First we had the Pyongyang-style standing ovation, in which hundreds of hypocritical parliamentarians clapped their hands sore in celebration of Tony Blair - when a great many of them have spent the past 10 years actively trying to winkle him out of Downing Street, a group that includes many on his own side, and above all his successor.

    Then poor Margaret Beckett was so overwhelmed that she started to weep, and had to be "comforted" by John Reid, a procedure that is surely enough to make anyone snap out of it. And then we had the cavalcade moving off to the Palace, and what with the hushed tones of the newscasters and the thudding of the television helicopters overhead, the whole thing started to remind me of Diana's funeral.

    "It has been a very emotional day," said Sky News's Adam Boulton. "I have seen some incredible things today, things I never thought I would see." What were these incredible things? "I have seen the Blairs' exercise bicycle removed from Number 10," groaned the honest fellow; and across Britain one imagined the Sky audience returning their sodden handkerchiefs to their eyes as they were racked with fresh bouts of sobbing. The exercise bicycle! The Prime Ministerial exercise bicycle! Never more to be used in Downing Street again! Woe, woe and thrice woe!


    Even among the cynical brainboxes who sit here in the shadow ministry for higher education, I noticed a certain oohing and aahing, and so you will understand that I was seized with a desire to puncture the mood. Enough, I thought, of this glutinous sentimentality, and prepared to denounce the entire proceedings as a fraud.

    Look here, I felt like saying, everyone is carrying on as though Blair's departure is the finest and noblest act of self-sacrifice since Captain Oates walked out into the blizzard. But he was pushed, for heavens' sake. He was forcibly ejected through the parliamentary tent-flaps by a Labour Party that was unable to forgive him for the war in Iraq.

    This carefully choreographed handover is just the culmination of the putsch that was launched last autumn by some of his trustiest admirers, such as Siôn Simon MP; and quite frankly, I was going to add, I am myself not completely devastated that he is going.

    Sky News may be treating it like the funeral of Queen Victoria, but I am really feeling quite chipper about the political extinction of Tony Blair. Yes, I was going to say, there are some of us who are bearing up pretty well, on the whole, and there are some of us who can't think of a better fate for Tony than to be carted off to the Middle East. I was just about to launch into a polemic on these lines, when something happened on the television that caused the words to die on my lips.

    Suddenly my mood changed; suddenly I felt a sense of desolation and morosity that we had lost Tony Blair, and I can tell you the exact moment when I caught the bug and joined the national mourning. It was the moment Gordon Brown opened his mouth, and, with every word he uttered, the mercury of my mood started to sink and the clouds rolled in.

    Of course, it was partly a question of style. It was after only a few seconds of Gordonian gurning and grunting that I felt almost suffocated by the earnestness of his utterance. There was such a grimness, such a solemnity, that I instantly missed Tony's gift for catching the taste of the moment, for the joky self-deprecation, for the combination of passion with a sense of optimism and uplift.

    Gordon was all about work: working steadfastly, working purposefully, working resolutely, and he went on so long that I remembered that the poor Queen had been closeted with him for fully 50 minutes while he banged on about how hard he was going to work; and it is in this emphasis - on his personal devotion to government activism, as a cure for the ills of society - that one can see the outlines of his strategy against the Tories.

    It is going to be Roundheads versus Cavaliers, Puritans versus freebooters, work against play. It is going to be dour, hard-working, nail-biting Gordon against those he will seek to portray as the merrymaking amateurs. And of course there will be many who will fall for this line, alas.

    What they forget, of course, is that Gordon's idea of work is really government regulation and legislation and intrusion and interference, with all its fiscal consequences. We all believe in welfare, and in the duty of society to the needy; but it really seems never to occur to Gordon that sometimes people can be genuinely better off - especially people running public services - if we give them back power, rather than endlessly depriving them of their own right of initiative.

    Sometimes parents and patients will be happier if we give them the hope and the chance of deciding, accomplishing - even buying - something themselves, rather than making them the victims of depression and disappointment when they are let down, by public services, in circumstances beyond their control.

    Gordon croaks, "Let the work of change begin", like some mad professor hunched over a necromantic experiment. What he means is "let the blizzard of legislation continue", with all the dire consequences that implies for the size of the state and the burden of tax. There will be no change: only an intensification of the rhythm that has criminalised 3,000 courses of human conduct over the past 10 years, a process in which Gordon Brown has been the principal player.

    Quite what Quentin Davies is doing with this lot I have no idea, though for the avoidance of doubt he should now do two things. He should dispel any possible suggestion of corruption by announcing that he will in no circumstances accept a peerage, and he should offer to be the Labour candidate for Sedgefield, so the people of Grantham can have a proper Tory. That might cheer me up, though as I write these words the rain is drifting past my window in sheets. Yes, a gloomy Scotch mist has descended on Westminster, and who knows when it will lift.

    Boris Johnson is MP for Henley

  2. My Hero Boris puts it in a nutshell. When will he be made to apologise for his comments?
  3. I think that every one else has got used to his ramblings now and just say, "Oh Boris has been opening his mouth again and putting his foot in it".

    He is in real danger of making himself inconsequential, and reinforcing the general opinion that he has the makings of becoming yet another bright young polititian who wrote himself out of greatness.
  4. His constituents seem to think he does a good job for them. That really is what counts.
  5. Borish has more intellect and insight in his little finger than 'Call me Dave' Camoron has in his whole body
  6. It's just a pity he doesn't use it and plays to the gallery instead.
  7. He also has, apparently, got charisma with sincerity.

    While I can appreciate the need for caution after Cameron got in as leader, it is clear now that the next 18 months will be an extended General Election campaign. It's time for the Conservatives to tell us their policies and where they stand. I have generally supported what he has said so far (except the grammar school debate), but the nebulousness of the Conservative position now needs to sublimate into something solid and substantial. Let's face it, on the subjects of health, education, defence, policing, economics and housing, the goal is open for them to score!
  8. Yet again, Boris says what right minded people are thinking!
  9. I would say that rather than charisma which will pull in support from outside your natural base, he can work the mob, if they already support him, and rather than sincerity he gives the impression of believing that all publicity is good publicity.

    As for Cameron you are right he deparately needs to consolidate and expand the support he has gained if Gordons bulldozer in mot going to flatten him when the election come.
  10. It's interesting that he mentioned the Princess Diana's funeral as the whole event brought it to my mind as well. Who in this Country would ever have believed that people would clap in a cathedral during a funeral service? One starts and they all bloody follow! Is that what happened yesterday when that manipulative, theatrical egomaniac orated his stand-down?

    I just hope Dr Who stops him before he creates mischief in the Middle East (apologies to those who haven't followed the last 2 episodes of the said programme).

    I also found the whole "ever so 'umble" Brown Spectacle and accompanying speech equally nauseating. Thank the heavens for men of sense and humour like yer man Johnson.
  11. Boris seems to speak a lot of sense, unfortunately he has a habit of letting the Bertie Wooster act intrude a little too much. However, here he's pretty much spot on- he's fond of saying that it's "the darkest hour that comes before the dawn" but then he's been saying that since he won Henley in 2001. Since then, things have got very dark indeed.....

    As for Cameron, he has done a certain amount of good work in even getting the Tories a halfway fair hearing in the media. The problem is that his policy review groups, whilst achieving their aim of kicking any discussion into the long grass for a long time, really need to get reporting sooner rather than later, otherwise he risks being either a) outflanked by Brown (by no means a shabby operator), or b) losing any momentum which might have been carrying him on with the public. Whether he can get his party through this is a moot point, and he certainly needs Boris on side- so long as he can convince him that playing the buffoon will only get him so far. There is a formidable intellect there that is being underused at the moment, both by the party and by the man himself.

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