Bo-Jo's blond ambition: Boris' bumbling is beginning to bore

Boris, of course, needs votes to appear on the ballot when Tory members come to pick a new leader. Putting their backs up is dangerous.

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The Johnson name is lauded in the House of Commons. However it is Jo, Boris’s diligent younger brother, who is making the better impression. Conservative colleagues speak of their irritation at the elder brother’s intentional bumbling. One Tory MP reported groans when Westminster’s most professional amateur muttered loudly, “Which is the No lobby?” during a division. Johnson knows perfectly well it’s to the left of the Speaker’s chair. It never changes and was in the same place before Bo-Jo’s seven-year sojourn to City Hall.

Playing the confused outsider may earn a chuckle on the rubber chicken circuit but it riles party mates. My Tory informant whispered that MPs crowd at tables when the Prime Minister or Chancellor pops into the tearoom, yet the arrival of the London mayor generates no excitement. Boris, of course, needs votes to appear on the ballot when Tory members come to pick a new leader. Putting their backs up is dangerous.

Jesse Norman is a member of Cameron’s brigade of Old Etonians but Dave was never in the Woodcraft Folk. A snout recalled singing anti-Vietnam war songs on organic camping trips in the hippie scouts with the thoughtful backbencher. The Tory MP’s dad, Sir Torquil Norman, started out a bit of a lefty and rebuilt the Camden Roundhouse after earning a fortune in toys, including Mighty Max and the Polly Pocket dolls. Young Jesse faded from the Woodcraft Folk after he pitched up at Eton. On his final night in a tent he ran about, according to my informant, shouting, “Yah, boo, sucks!” Useful training for the Commons.

Labour success would have had many parents, but failure belongs exclusively to Ed Miliband, as Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall and Jeremy Corbyn compete for the tarnished crown. The hitherto loyal Alastair Campbell, his attention drawn to a story in the Times quoting his threats to oust a future leader who failed to cut the mustard, murmured, “I should have last time.” The most withering post-election verdict was delivered by the Tory pollster Michael Ashcroft. “When the Liberal Democrat vote collapsed, Ed Miliband didn’t need to get out of bed for Labour to win,” he said. “The problem for Labour was Ed Miliband did get out of bed.”

Nigel Farage, Ukip fashionista, has been turning heads in a patriotic pair of Union Jack shoes. The John Bull of his era has also bought a pith helmet. One spectator reflected that he’s more likely to grace Empire News than Vogue.

I notice Baroness Gardner of Parkes is a member of the all-party parliamentary group on gardening and horticulture, but not the MPs Barry Gardiner, Frank Field, Mike Wood, James Berry or Damian and Chris Green.

Kevin Maguire is the associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror

Kevin Maguire is Associate Editor (Politics) on the Daily Mirror and author of our Commons Confidential column on the high politics and low life in Westminster. An award-winning journalist, he is in frequent demand on television and radio and co-authored a book on great parliamentary scandals. He was formerly Chief Reporter on the Guardian and Labour Correspondent on the Daily Telegraph.

This article appears in the 19 June 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Mini Mao

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