We woke this morning to the sound of Mr Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson spluttering his way though an interview on the The Today Programme and denying that it was inevitable that he would be the Conservatory candidate for London Mayor.
Inevitably, he is.
I am not sure what was more alarming – the fact that he appeared to have done NO PREPARATION for the interview whatsoever, or the possiblity that this is what he is like when he HAS!
"Um um um um um," he said in reply to a question about terrorism. Terrifying indeed!
But I am getting ahead of myself. He had opened with the INTERESTING promise that he was both going to interfere less AND to put a stop to building "rabbit hutch dwellings" (or FLATS as most Londoners who have to live in them call them). Wasn't this a contradiction, he was asked by Today's Mr Naughty. Mr Boris explained – he wasn't in favour of affordable housing in new developments, but he did want new buyers to be able to afford houses.
"By day I like to worship the little baby Jesus, and at midnight I sacrifice a goat to Beelzebub and I see no contradiction in that," …is actually something Mr Jeremy Hardy once said while pretending to be Lord Blairimort, but the quotation seems apposite for some reason.
Clearly used to the dark art of "sexing up" a CV, Mr Boris then tried to make it look like he had the EXPERIENCE for the job by claiming to have run an eleven-million pound business. Now there're a number of things here – firstly, there IS a difference between a business with a TURNOVER of eleven million (like Boris's magazine) and controlling a BUDGET of eleven million. Someone with real experience would know that; if you don't, then confusing one with the other leads to making a LOSS.
But secondly, there is the question of what "running" the business actually means. Mr Boris's Beano, The Spectator, has an OWNER (at the moment it is the notorious Barclay Brothers) and a PUBLISHER (you will no doubt remember Ms Petrolpropeller Wyatt and her, er, friendship with suddenly-former Home Secretary, the very-generous-with-his-expenses Mr Bluntgit) – Mr Boris's title was "editor", wasn't it?
Isn't the editor USUALLY responsible for picking the writers, trimming their articles and supplying the leader column?
The person who actually RUNS the business has to get the sales, oversee production and publicity, pay the employees… you know, all the trivial but vital details of actual management.
So was Mr Boris actually doing any of that, or was his full time job just wining and dining the guest writers and then doing the tiniest touch of EXAGGERATION?
Actually, it would be interesting to know what Mr Boris thinks a FULL TIME job really IS.
At the moment he is doing quite a lot of MOONLIGHTING from his supposed occupation as representative for the people of Henley, earning AT A MINIMUM a-hundred-and-fifty-five thousand pounds from speaking and appearances (it could be up to two hundred and seventy-five thousand – there are twenty-four engagements earning him five to ten grand or ten to fifteen grand and so on), and that's WITHOUT the nearly quarter of a million that the Torygraph are paying him to work for them as a columnist.
It DOES all seem to cut into his time. He has only been able to speak in 16 debates this year, and only managed to turn up to vote 52% of the time, both well below average among MPs. It must be jolly inconvenient for him that all those after-dinner speeches and TV studio recordings clash with those boring old debates in the House of Commons that he is supposedly being paid to attend.
He didn't even seem sure whether he would give up his Westminster stipend if he actually (imaginary god help us) became Mayor of London, blustering about Mr Ken staying on as an MP before finishing with a grudging "oh well I suppose I would."
But then, of course, there was the terrorism question: was he SERIOUS enough, Mr Naughty wanted to know, to speak for London in the aftermath of an outrage like the July 7th bombings?
"Um um um um um," said Mr Boris.
Had it not even OCCURRED to him that this was a VERY OBVIOUS question to be asked? Did he just BUMBLE into Broadcasting House, fluffy head empty of any plan or thought, and just walk onto the punches as they came? Is this NUMBSKULL really, REALLY the best the Conservatories could put forward to run London? Had the "Have I Got News for You?" TUB OF LARD turned them down?
After his horrible rabbit in headlights moment, Mr Boris tried to recover by blethering on about uniting London people. Like people will be united by an elitist Old Etonian whose career reads like a catalogue of "It's WHO you know, not WHAT you know" (I mean WHO just goes from the Wolverhampton Express & Star, excellent organ though it doubtless is, to being Daily Torygraph leader writer?). It is important to distinguish the concepts of "popular TV personality" from "butt of a popular joke on TV".
Am I worried by Mr Boris? Yes, very worried – worried because people might think that it is FUNNY to vote for this gonk on the SPURIOUS basis that he is a "larger than life" personality. Well, so is Godzilla and just LOOK what a mess he made of Tokyo when he was Mayor there!
Mr Ken – no stranger to personality politics – has let down a lot of Londoners with his unaccountable antics and ignoring of the suburbs and we need a proper challenge to him, a challenge to him on POLICIES for London, not who has the silliest hair and voice.
Liberal Democrats have the policies and have the serious candidates. We've always said that we stand a BETTER chance than the Conservatories of beating Mr Ken in the run-off if only we can get into second place. If Suicide Boris continues to follow the Ealing Southall "Dave Balloon's Conservatories" trajectory – big name, big publicity, big launch, big splash, sinks without trace, big mistake – then this may turn out to be our best chance yet!