Friday, 4 November 2016

Prime Minister threatens to "strangle Foreign Secretary like a dog"...

... is what I call a headline. But handed this juiciest of sound bites on a silver platter, the BBC's James Landale boringly opted to title his think piece, inspired by the Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year Awards,  "Can Theresa May resist temptation to mock Boris?" (the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind "no" - see Betteridge's law of headlines).

Purists might object to my abuse of scare quotes around an indirect quotation, but I reckon my paraphrase is about as accurate a reflection of the substance of Mrs May's hearty banter as the stuff you'd see in most headlines:
But it was what Mrs May said about Boris Johnson that struck me most. Picking up on his reference to Lady Heseltine's aggressive Alsatian, the prime minister looked directly at her foreign secretary - I was directly in the eye line - and said: "Boris, the dog was put down... (pause)... when its master decided it wasn't needed any more."
Touching though it is to see a shared love of canine asphyxiation bringing the Europhile Lord Heseltine and Mad Mrs Brexit together in perfect harmony, I thought there was something far more revealing in Landale's piece.
"Theresa May should not back Boris Johnson. He'll cheat on her like a dog & she should choke him like a dog"

No, not even the bit where The Boris (another politician who knows words and has the best words) predicted that Brexit would be a "titanic success" (presumably with a Celine Dion ballad of its very own). No, this:
Now every government has a court jester and Boris Johnson will never be able to escape that title. But his role in this government is crucial. He is there to convince the international community that Britain is not turning its back on the world post Brexit, that Britain has a positive role to play in global affairs.

And to do that he needs to be taken seriously. Many foreign politicians and diplomats that I speak to tell me they are pleasantly surprised when they meet the foreign secretary for the first time. 

They talk of the man behind the caricature - the cultured, over-educated intellectual who often speaks a bit of their language and who can be thoughtful when he is not gripped by banter.

The problem is that many others - who have not met the foreign secretary in person - often still see him as a kind of upmarket Nigel Farage, a Eurosceptic clown with clout. 
If you thought that The Boris was just a racist assclown, talking incontinent drivel, you'd be wrong. It's actually much worse than that. The Boris is apparently a grown-up man, capable of tying his own shoelaces, passing the port in the correct direction and swapping amusing anecdotes and quotes from Virgil with foreign ambassadors over trays of canapés, Ferrero Rocher, or whatever the hell it is they graze on at fancy diplomatic soirées. The Boris is only pretending to be a racist assclown, talking incontinent drivel, because he thinks this will win him the support of the common people, who he clearly views as easily-distracted bigots with short attention spans.

I suppose we should be grateful for gossipy, privately-educated establishment journalists like James Landale for twitching back the curtain and giving the rest of us a tantalising little glimpse of the sheer contempt in which our cynical, manipulative "betters" hold plebs like us.