For a reason that passes this reviewer's understanding Boris Johnson was last month re-elected as the Mayor of London. So far as I can see, Johnson has shown absolutely no competence or political substance to warrant him holding any political office whatsoever. His sole qualification seems to be to play the role of a bumptious and bumbling toff who is capable, on occasion, of amusing TV audiences. In this irreverent biography Sonia Purnell, a former journalist colleague of Johnson's, pretty much agrees with that assessment.
Purnell traces Johnson's early childhood and young adulthood through Brussels, Eton, and Oxford University where he was to become President of Oxford Union. It is, as the sojourns at Eton and Oxford suggest, the story of the privileged upbringing and an ingrained sense of entitlement which is alien to the vast majority of Britons (mainly because the doors opened by their status to Johnson et al are never opened for us). It is precisely these type of connections that enabled Johnson to become a major journalist (in reality he is more of an essayist) for the Spectator, where working from Brussels he set forth a flood of Eurosceptic pieces that energised the political right of the Conservative Party and, arguably, hastened the rise of New Labour at the UK polls.
However, it was not the 'secret handshake' of the establishment that catapulted Johnson to the political limelight (I refuse to refer to him by his first name!) but Have I Got News for You (HIGNFY), a weekly satirical television program and other associated 'borisisms'.
It is on HIGNFY that Johnson inhabited two British staples: the lovable rogue and the village idiot. To this writer's amazement it is a dual-identity that he has managed to uphold even after four years in power, and it is one that has served him well.
It is this mastery of his audience that has led Johnson to his second term as London Mayor and his position as a frontrunner as the next Conservative Party leader and, possibly, Prime Minister of the UK.