As Boris Johnson’s long march to power begins, media supporters such as I seek out landmines in order to defuse them before they blast his ambitions to smithereens.
There will be quite a few, alas, but we start today asking this. Is Stanley Johnson, his noble sire, merely content to cast himself as the Terry Major-Ball comedy-relative archetype, or is he in fact a Trojan Horse implanted within the Boris camp by George Osborne?
An interview with The Sunday Telegraph brings to mind Homer’s advice (I translate very loosely from the Greek) to beware of Stanleys talking bollocks. After claiming to be “extremely pleased that he has thrown his hat into the ring”, Stanley undermines the endorsement by dwelling on Boris’s need to tackle “the absolute scandal of immigration”, which he pinpoints as “the fundamental issue at the heart of the rot”. This is curious. Boris’s most appealing political quality has been his willingness to celebrate immigration as a potent force for good.
Last October, he referred to himself as “probably about the only politician… who is actually willing to… say that he’s pro-immigration”. He has called for an amnesty for the illegals whom Papa views as the source of all social ills, and described the Prime Minister’s crackdown on incomers numbers as “crazy”.
With that in mind, Stanley’s strictures may be interpreted as a ruse devised by the Chancellor (Boris’s main rival for the succession, and his erstwhile teammate in the Bullingdon sport of Smashing Up Oxford Restaurants) to force Boris into a U-turn, and thus implicitly admit that the immigrant cheerleading was no more than tactical posturing from the mayor of an immigration-dependent London. Either that, or the old boy has half the powers of comprehension of the alpine yak he faintly resembles.
Whichever it is, we wish Boris luck in persuading his dad to break the habit of a lifetime, and keep that capacious gob shut for more than 90 seconds.
I know one Tory who thinks Boris is Eurosceptic...
The potential return to Westminster of Boris, the Tory prince across the Thames, causes an eruption of the feud between Louise Mensch and Nadine Dorries. Cameron disciple Louise has a dig at Nadine in a Sun on Sunday column primarily devoted to weakening Boris’s mass appeal. “Having sat in the Commons tearoom,” she relates, “I can confidently say there’s not a Tory MP around who believes that Boris is a Eurosceptic.”
Having read yesterday’s Mail on Sunday, I can confidently say that there is. “Following his strongly Eurosceptic speech last week,” writes an equally thoughtful Nadine, a Johnson megafan, “Boris will undoubtedly coax back the voters who have temporarily left for Ukip… It is very possible Boris will campaign for a No vote [in the EU referendum]”.
Now I like Louise, to adapt Harry Hill, but then I also like Nadine. But which is better? There’s only one way to find out. No, not a catfight. Cast Lou and Nad, the Bette Davis and Joan Crawford of their generation, in a remake of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, and see who steals more scenes.
Play this, Nigel, and you’ll have Thanet in the bag
As has long been assumed, Nigel Farage will indeed contest a seat in Thanet next May in the Ukip interest. If Nigel seeks a guaranteed way to seduce undecideds among the local electorate, we advise him to include in the stump speech a snatch from the only hit record ever to refer to that fine Kent district. It comes from “Billericay Dickie”, in case you couldn’t tell, and the verse – one of the funniest in Ian Dury’s oeuvre – goes as follows: “I’d rendezvouz with Janet, quite near the Isle of Thanet/ She looked more like a gannet, she wasn’t half a prannet/ Her mother tried to ban it, her father helped me plan it/ And when I captured Janet, she bruised her pomegranate.” A few blasts of that from the soapbox should swing it for Nigel.
Remind me, who was it that ruined Tulisa’s career?
As Tulisa Contostavlos contemplates a lawsuit against Mazher Mahmood and the newspaper that has suspended him pending an investigation into whether he fitted her up as a drug dealer and tampered with the evidence, things look up a little (a very little) for the singer. The Sun reveals that she has been hired by The X Factor as an aide to resident imbecile Louis Walsh in the “judges’ houses” section of the ITV1 sob-fest.
Although a few minutes of airtime in the demeaning Sinitta role seems a bit of a comedown for one who three years ago led Little Mix to victory, the report bullishly cites this as a tremendous boost for a young woman “determined to get her career back on track”. Oddly, it fails to mention why her career left the tracks in the first place, and which red top was directly responsible, but no doubt this was due to pressure on space.
A Hollywood blacklisting that’s not so mysterious
The Times has disturbing news for cinema’s leading Hispanic couple. In the most valuable contribution to an open letter since Bruce Forsyth joined a posse of barely less qualified experts to invite the Scots to remain within the Union, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem signed a missive accusing Israel of attempting “genocide” in Gaza. The punishment for this utterly cretinous, if not outright wicked, implicit comparison with the Holocaust will be a Hollywood blacklisting.
So, at least, reports The Times, which refers obliquely to a “pledge … believed to have been made privately by a handful of top executives”. I wonder which studio offered this tale to The Times, given that 20th Century Fox is, of course, also owned by that ultra-staunch supporter of Israel, Rupert Murdoch? DreamWorks, perhaps?