Monday, May 19, 2008
Boris Johnson: The good and the bad
Paul Walter of Liberal Burblings has a couple of postings on the new Mayor of London.
The first concerns Boris Johnson's call for new legislation preventing the Mayor of London from serving more than two terms.
This seems to me entirely sensible. In a perfect world all local councillors would be limited to two terms. When you are elected you fully intend to represent the people in the council chamber. Unless you are very careful, after a few years you find yourself representing the council officers in your ward.
The trouble that all parties have finding council candidates means that this will never happen, but it is certainly possible when it comes to the Mayor of London. I suspect that a widespread feeling that he had outstayed his welcome was one of the reasons for Ken Livingstone's defeat this time.
I cannot agree with Paul that it is a "bizarre" time for Boris Johnson to make this call. I can think of no better time for him to make it than when he has just been elected for the first time.
Paul's second story concerns Boris's intention to continue writing his Daily Telegraph column while serving as Mayor.
Why is he doing it? Because the Telegraph is paying him £250,000 a year to do it, that's why. As Eddie Murphy replied when asked why he had made one turkey: "The door opened and four men walked in carrying a large cheque."
But this decision also shows Boris's weakness - an unwillingness to choose between being a politician and being a journalist. This unresolved dilemma has held his career back until now. It looked as though his victory in London had resolved it for him. But apparently not.
In many ways Boris Johnson reminds me of Alan Clark. Although most of the publicity for his diaries concerned the drunkenness and womanising, behind that they were rather a sad document. Clark feared he had left it too late in life to take himself seriously and have a substantial political career.
As things turned out, he had. Alan Clark was never a cabinet minister and Boris should beware of meeting the same fate.
I suspect the 10-year-old Boris wanted to be prime minister and editor of The Times - as well as opening the batting for England and being an astronaut. No doubt this was endearing, even if he did resemble a Midwich cuckoo "run to seed".
But an ability to make choices and accept their consequences is part of being an adult. And it is time Boris grew up.