Editorial: A Teflon politician called Boris

What are we to make of poll results which show that knowledge of Boris Johnson's love child makes almost no difference at all to voters' intentions?


The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, as has  often been remarked, is one of few British politicians widely known by only his first name. He owes that in part to his parents’ choice of a name that is relatively unusual here. A Dave or a Nick, however flamboyant, will find such instant name recognition harder. But it is also because of his distinctive appearance and, yes, his personal charisma. Rightly or wrongly, he comes across as a sympathetic human being. 

He also appears to be rather good at certain other things that would generally be thought less socially and politically acceptable. These include his wandering eye and fathering a child by a woman other than his wife. It was lawful, a judge found recently, for this to be reported, because Mr Johnson’s “recklessness” had a bearing on his fitness for public office. The inference was that if and when Boris seeks higher office – such as the job of Prime Minister some say he covets – voters might want to take his personal behaviour into account.

But will they? A ComRes poll, commissioned by The Independent showed that it would make almost no difference at all. A whopping – to use a Boris word – three quarters of those asked said it would not make it any less likely that they would vote for him in a general election. A further 9 per cent said they did not know whether it would affect their vote.

Several glosses can be put on this finding. One is that British society is now much more forgiving of personal behaviour that would once have been condemned, and that this tolerance extends to politicians. Another would be that voters treat Mr Johnson rather like Nigel Farage, as a politician not to be taken seriously.

But a third possibility is that people allow their personal liking to override their disapproval. In other words, Boris has a gift, akin to that of Bill Clinton, that allows him to break all the rules of electability. Whatever interpretation is correct, one conclusion is clear: his political enemies will need to find a stick other than infidelity with which to beat him.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Music Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

Maths Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

C# asp.net Developer - West Sussex - permanent - £40k - £50k

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Day In a Page

Read Next
“You're running away!” Nick said to me the other night as I tried to leave the hospital  

In Sickness and in Health: ‘There’s nothing I want more than to have you at home, but you’re not well’

Rebecca Armstrong

Daily catch-up: Ed Miliband on low pay; Alan Johnson on Betjeman; Tom Freeman on editing

John Rentoul
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments