Magazine article The American Conservative

Heir to Blair

Magazine article The American Conservative

Heir to Blair

Article excerpt


Such was David Cameron's poor showing in the polls at the beginning of March that irresponsible elements here began to suggest that Boris Johnson might make a better leader of the Tory Party.

You know the guy I mean: Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, Old Etonian mayor of London, former editor of the Spectator, former Tory MP for Henley, and Britain's most reckless, anarchic, and entertaining politician.

He is also . well, take your pick. He describes himself as "a one-man melting pot." His forebears include Turks, Russians, Frenchmen, and Germans; also Englishmen. His faith background is Protestant and Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim. He is an American citizen, moreover, having had the foresight to be born in New York City in June 1964. Through his father's maternal grandmother, Marie Louise de Pfeffel, he is a descendant of George II, grandfather of the rather more famous George III.

With that pedigree, as you might expect, the mayor of London has a keen sense of the absurd and once promised, "If you vote for the Conservatives, your wife will get bigger breasts and your chances of driving a BMW M3 will increase." But there is one thing he won't be frivolous about: his career or, as he might see it, his destiny. Being mayor of the greatest city on earth is by no means the summit of his ambition. He wants not just to lead his party but to lead it into No. 10 Downing Street; to become prime minister.

First, however, David Cameron must lose May's general election, and I am not sure that he can be relied on to do that. Many now talk of a hung Parliament, even of a Tory defeat, but my hunch is that Cameron will win outright. After all, his beautiful wife Samantha is expecting a baby in September. Given the state of the nation after 13 years of Labor rule, however, Cameron should be able to walk it, even without a baby. We are in the middle of the worst recession in living memory; we are fighting an unpopular and unwinnable war in Afghanistan, having lost an equally unwinnable and unpopular war in Iraq; and we have brooding over us the bulky figure of Gordon Brown, perhaps the least charismatic prime minister in history. At the beginning of last year, the Tories were 20 points ahead in the polls, but for a couple of days in March this year, that lead dropped to two points.

Why? …

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