London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has, during his political career, had to live down the kind of gaffes that would have finished off lesser men: whether it was being sent to Liverpool to apologise for his notorious Spectator editorial, getting the sack from the shadow cabinet for lying to Michael Howard, or getting skewered on The Andy Marr Show (tm), he came bouncing back.
Haircut, chaps? Yikes, couldn't be arsed!
So it is possible that today’s foot-in-mouth episode, in the latest instalment of his Maily Telegraph column, which generates a mere £250,000 of “chicken feed” a year, will be similarly laughed off with a few exclamations of “cripes” and “oo-er chaps”. But the confused nature of his argument, which holds that we should be prepared to quit the EU, although it won’t do us any good, will remain.
“We must be ready to leave the EU if we don’t get what we want” trumpets the headline, but then Bozza asserts that “As it happens, I think the question of EU membership is no longer of key importance to the destiny of this country”. So why write the sodding column? Couldn’t The Great Man dream up anything else to justify being bunged his weekly £5,000?
But Bozza then rallies: perhaps this coincided with the serving of antipasti at yesterday’s luncheon appointment. He now talks up Young Dave: “David Cameron is therefore the only leader of a major political party to be asking the British people to have a say on Europe, and for the first time since 1975”. But sadly, this is complete crap, unless you believe Harold Wilson was not the leader of a major political party.
It gets worse: Bozza then lists his reasons for staying in the EU, but manages to miss the freedom of movement and residence, open skies, the free market, the increased clout gained as a member of the EU – trade deals with the US (in preparation) and China (next), for instance – and things like consumer protection, the kind of detail that matters to ordinary people.
Then comes the goof: “most of our problems are not caused by ‘Bwussels’ [sic], but by chronic British short-termism, inadequate management, sloth, low skills, a culture of easy gratification”. That would be the “culture of easy gratification” typified by a London Mayor who has to have a welter of deputies and advisors to cover for him, because he pays so little attention to the job.
And, as for his calling out his fellow Britons for their “sloth and low skills”, that won’t go down too well with those commuting a hundred miles or more every weekday and spending much of their spare time and money garnering the qualifications that will make them a more marketable proposition in today’s flexible labour market. It’s just recycling a decades-old stereotype.
Unlike his own “sloth and low skills” generating £5,000 a week. What a hypocrite.