Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Boris on Polly; Polly on Boris

So, Polly attempts character assassination in the grand manner this morning in the Guardian. Splashed as a trail on the front cover is the strapline Boris the jester, toff, serial liar and sociopath for mayor. The rest of the piece rather follows this lead. It's intensely personal and, as you would expect from Polly, misleading, ill-informed and disingenuous.
Polly: London is the nation's powerhouse, and a city of daunting complexity. Tories running top City firms and Conservative boroughs won't find the Boris Johnson candidacy charmingly funny.
FT: Business welcomed the decision by Mr Johnson to stand for the Tory candidacy to fight Ken Livingstone in next May's elections..."We want a credible competition, with a serious discussion of the issues, to test out the merits of Ken's position," Miles Templeman, director general, Institute of Directors, said.
Polly: But everything foppish, buffoonish and essentially unserious about his raffish progress through London will mirror exactly what people already think about Cameron and Osborne's Etonocracy.
George Osborne, of course, did not go to Eton.
Polly: But it's truly alarming that he who has never run anything except his own image could be in charge of this mighty financial centre - and some of the poorest, neediest boroughs in the country.
Apart from the highest-selling British political weekly? Under Boris the Spectator flourished, growing rapidly and mainitaining profitability. It also didn't entirely implode under the welter of scandals and gossip pieces - good practice for political office.
Polly: Johnson's best asset is the devoted support of London's only proper newspaper. The Evening Standard - same stable as the Daily Mail - detests Livingstone: no surprise they gave Johnson front-page and leader-column coverage, with an article by himself (all about himself, not much policy) and lavish praise from the rightwing columnist Andrew Gilligan.
Right-wing? Gilligan? Maybe from Planet Polly.
Polly: Underneath the whimsy and the Greyfriars pastiche prep school banter, he is a deeper and more passionately romantic believer in 19th-century Conservativism than most of his frontbench companions.
I think Polly probably means 19th century Liberalism - Boris as a figure is far more redolent of high Whiggism than he is of Peelite Conservatism. You can certainly picture him in Lord Palmerston's cabinet.
Polly: As a rabid Europhobe, how would that play with the Olympics or the Tour de France?
Eh? Is the this the most barrel-scraped argument ever? What the hell does it have to do with anything?
Polly: What about Boris the sociopath? Apart from being caught often lying to all and sundry - he was fired from the Times for making up a quote.
For Polly Toynbee to criticise anybody for lacking journalistic integrity is chutzpah to the highest degree - she's a one-woman misinformation campaign. The whole article is bizarre - it's as though there is a personal animus against Boris. Why could this be? Tim thinks he has the answer...
PS: great credit goes to Boris's dad for the ultimate line in relation to Boris against Livingstone when the latter uses the 'seriousness' line: I'd rather have a serious man pretending to be a buffoon, than a buffoon pretending to be a serious man.

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