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?

Share

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

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Lada became a symbol of Russia’s failure to keep up with Western economies  

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
The Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, has been dubbed ‘Bibi’s brain’  

Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire

Patrick Cockburn
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz