Leave Boris Johnson alone – this exotic creature is Labour’s greatest asset

Imagine a political world without Boris Johnson. It would be pretty sad and empty

Sean O'Grady
Monday 08 November 2021 12:05
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Keir Starmer claims Boris Johnson is ‘in the sewer with his troops’ over Paterson case

I address you today to ask you to give whatever support you can to the Society for the Protection of Boris Johnson, the SPBJ, and my remarks are especially directed to the opposition parties. Leave him alone.

Until the recent past Boris Johnson, a richly decorated and exotic creature, instantly recognisable by its plumed headdress and sleazy habits, has been a ubiquitous species, breeding and feeding freely across its terrain, often brazenly ignoring weaker predators such as Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson. Now, due to catastrophic political climate change, Boris Johnson is becoming increasingly endangered. The creature has become shy of public attention, and experts say it may never be glimpsed again in one of its key natural habitats - a Commons debate on standards in public life.

The Boris Johnson is being hunted to extinction by the Labour Party, and it has to stop. Boris Johnson is in fact the Labour Party’s greatest political asset, one that can help them win the next general election. Flat-footed, short-sighted and insensitive to warning signs, Boris Johnson is in danger of being completely wiped out, or “resignation” as we call it. As is inevitable in nature, he’d be replaced by another, more successful species, perhaps the diminutive and agile Rishi Sunak, or the well-camouflaged and cautious Liz Truss, or the elegant and alert Jeremy Hunt. It would be a tragedy if Boris Johnson went extinct - especially for the Labour Party that derives such benefit from exploiting the species. Sustainable harvesting of Boris Johnson’s gaffes and blunders is the best way of managing this precious species, not by its immediate destruction.

The SPBJ asks Labour to imagine a political world without Boris Johnson. It would be pretty sad and empty. There’d be no outraged press releases made crafted from his pelt, no emergency debates in parliament where the animal could be goaded, no freebie sunshine breaks while a nation shivered under lockdown, no opportunity for him to appear on television screens to appall the voters with ill-judged borderline racist remarks. They’d surely miss him. With Boris Johnson replaced, there’d be an immediate bounce in the polls for a new Conservative leader, one who actually got Brexit done after all, stopped the sleaze and wasn’t quite as unreliable as Boris Johnson.

Yet the attacks go on. Right now one of Boris Johnson’s closest political relatives, Jacob Rees-Mogg is also critically endangered. Oblivious to the harm it would do to a future supply of political point scoring, Thangam “whoa, whoa” Debbonaire is half-way there to getting Jacob Rees-Mogg to resign.

What a loss that would be to the political world, and the Labour Party. Rees-Mogg is a genus so out of touch with the modern world that he qualifies as a living fossil, who speaks Latin but not human, despised even by some on his own side, the nearest he has ever got to a food bank is the tuck shop at Eton, and he goes around in a top hat and fogeyish suits: why waste this precious political asset by forcing him to disappear, after which he will be forgotten by the public? He has so much more to give, so much more ridicule to heap upon himself and his party - let him live too. We’re already faced with the imminent exit from the cruel political world of Owen Paterson, who lived like the naked mole rat in perfect obscurity until he accidentally surfaced in search of lobbying contracts.

There’s a better way, we at the SPBJ believe. More than a decade ago, when the Conservatives were in opposition, they did everything they could to ensure the survival of Gordon Brown. They sensed, correctly, that he would do them their best service if he remained in Number 10, fully on public display as a living, limping saga of misjudgements and bad luck. Having him stuffed wouldn’t have been nearly the same.

David Cameron and George Osborne knew how to treasure the political gifts nature bestowed on them. Labour should make sure that, while they can ridicule and criticise Boris Johnson, they really ought not to finish him off.

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