I was watching the news last night and was vaguely amused that Boris Johnson has announced that he has decided to return to mainstream politics in 2015 in time for the general election. Now, I quite like Boris as a personality but as a politician he has said both very amusing and very questionable things. I'll give you some examples -
- "I am a I am supporting David Cameron purely out of cynical self-interest" At least he is an honest politician
- "If we judged everybody by the stupid, unguarded things they blurt out to their nearest and dearest, then we wouldn't ever get anywhere." Very true, though probably said in defence of himself saying something stupid and unguarded
- "London is a fantastic creator of jobs - but many of these jobs are going to people who don't originate in this country." Nothing like a bit of Tory Xenophobia to round it all off.
Boris is one of the few politicians with a genuinely engaging personality - in fact, his personality is such that he can often transcend political barriers and be liked despite his political leanings, rather than because of them. It's very unusual in the modern world and I also cant help but find amusement at his self effacing, slightly bumbling style, but I always try and remind myself that at his heart he and I would probably disagree on some extremely fundamental and important issues.
This lead me to ask, would it be better to have someone like Boris as PM, than, say a Cameron, Miliband or Clegg? It's hard to know, I dont think that "liking" your PM is a necessary or sufficient reason for them to be in power, in fact, I'd be quite happy to have someone who had a dislikeable personality but made many of the right decisions as the countries leader. Then again, this brought me back to the question of what democracy really is - and I thought, we shouldn't be asking ourselves to select the best of the bad bunch, we should be asking ourselves "does this system get the right decisions made" or “does the system get the right people into a position where they can be trusted to make the right decisions?"
I for one am not sure that politics is set up in such a way that it really enables this. For a start, there is gross gender and ethnic mis-representation at the top tables. There is also an inherent fear of change: look at how popular UKIP are for promotion of the "maintain Britain for the British" agenda.
Where am I going with this? Well, it's simple really, I think that I'd forgive someone like Boris for disagreeing with me on lots of little issues if he got some of the pretty big ones right, and I think as he has been mayor of London, he's got more of a chance than most of the tories. London is, I think, the only city in the UK where white British are in the minority (Birmingham is possibly the other) and is a real melting pot of people. London also leads often the country in terms of progressive thinking on debates around racial and gender equality, religious tolerance and freedom of speech and I would hope that Boris would be the sort of person that makes the most the experiences he's had as mayor of London and retains an understanding that the role of the elected PM is not to make sure that he gets re-elected, it is to do what is right for the country, and the country includes people of all wealth's, backgrounds, skin colors, religions beliefs and genders. His experience as Mayor of London may actually give him as good a shot as any at doing this, even if he is ultimately a white, middle class, conservative male.
So yes, I think it'd be great to someone other than a WMC-CM in charge, but like most democracies, it's often the case of choosing the "best from a bad bunch", and Boris may actually be just that.
Then again, he is a conservative and a politician, so probably not, and this does not change my opinion that I'd rather have a far more representative and diverse government.