Donald Macintyre's Sketch: We Borisologists know better than to take this stuff too seriously
There were lots of references to ‘my friend the Prime Minister, David Cameron’
Donald Macintyre writes political sketches for The Independent, having been Jerusalem correspondent since 2004, covering Israel and the Occupied Territories, as well as travelling for the paper to Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Libya and Egypt. As Political Editor and then Chief Political Commentator, he previously covered the John Major and early Tony Blair era. He has written for the Daily Express, Sunday Times, Times and Sunday Telegraph, and Sunday Correspondent. He is the author of Mandelson and the Making of New Labour (2000).
Tuesday 01 October 2013
Professor Mainstream, you hold the Ronald McDonald chair of Borisology at Cockfosters University. Were we seeing a new Mayor, more statesmanlike, more loyal, less er… dangerous?
Well, there were lots of references to “my friend the Prime Minister David Cameron”, to future leadership rivals like Michael Gove and his “heroic work” on school standards, and even – most implausibly of all – the “brilliant” George Osborne speech on Monday.
But we Borisologists know not to take this stuff too seriously. And not just because of the wilder-than-ever hair, the pseudo-bashfully urging his excited audience to “please sit down because we’ve got a lot to get through” or the gag about Alain Juppe being simultaneously Mayor of Bordeaux and PM: “it’s the kind of thing they do in France – a very good idea in my view.”
Since everyone was laughing when he added “Joke, joke, joke” this perversely made us think it might not be. But hasn’t Cameron just said he’s “absolutely” happy for the mayor to snap up a safe seat before the next election? And hasn’t Bozzer pledged eternal fealty to Dave at Chequers? If by “eternal” you mean up to 2015, possibly. And he even threw in a mildly positive preference to “high speed rail”. But while we haven’t fully run the speech though the famous Cockfosters messaging computer model, we can already see the policy differences.
Saying stamp duty was “stamping on the fingers of those who are trying to climb the property ladder” won’t exactly charm “my friend the Chancellor”. He conspicuously failed to utter the conference mantra “hard working people”. In fact his complaint was that young Brits weren’t working hard enough.
And he seemed relaxed about immigration? Well, since he’d quoted Jamie Oliver saying restaurants would shut down without European migrants, and boasted that there were more “baristas than barristers” in London, you could see where he was going And he revelled at this year’s London birthrate.
Although we haven’t yet filled the vacancy for an anthropologist in my department, I felt when he claimed to have “delivered” on his prediction that the Olympics had moved people “to such paroxysms of excitement on the sofas of Britain that they had not only inspired a generation but probably helped to create one as well” he may have been subliminally referring to his own fertility, like a tribal chief.
Not entirely putting party before Boris then?
Well, when he said: “Let’s cut the yellow Liberal Democrat albatross from around our necks by working flat out for David Cameron” you did wonder about his leadership ambitions in another hung parliament.
So lots of work ahead for you, Professor?
Yes, it’s great to be working in such a dynamic field.
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