Baddiel had this to offer about Boris Johnson’s ignominy: “The intense row about boo-ing is basically an admission that politics in this country is now panto.”
Baddiel found himself on the sharp end of a quick-witted riposte from the Twittersphere: “You would know about booing. You’ve probably had it done to you all of your career.” But he was on to something. We live in an era where spin and presentation trump policy and competence. The debasing of public standards under Boris Johnson has come at a time when he’s stolen most of the tricks from the Trump playbook. As the subscribers to Mumsnet famously told us all, he’s an habitual liar who cannot be trusted.
Seeing him being booed may be a turning point. Though frequently likened to a greased piglet and though able to use tricks to avoid and evade disaster, he’s unable to stifle the general public’s instincts. And though his PR machine is polished, it can’t edit out the sound of a man being booed because he’s disliked, distrusted and unpopular. The verdict was simple: you’ve lost the dressing room, guv. The people have had enough.
Even the Minister For Disinformation, Nadine Dorries, couldn’t spin the boos away. The woman accused of selling Channel 4 in revenge because of a beef with a newsreader, who incorrectly claimed 96 per cent supported her when 96 per cent opposed her and who erroneously claimed Channel 4 was in receipt of public money when it is not is among those taking us for fools. Most people don’t defend their kids the way Dorries defends Johnson. When kids are wrong, decent parents say as much. It’s the way they learn.
The trouble for Boris is that the chorus of boos came from ‘his’ people. Royalists who are enthusiastic about Great Britain, who wave the flag and who cheer for William and Kate, Charles and Camilla, are Boris Johnson’s core supporters. Rather, they were.
Now, like so many around the UK, they’re turned off by his untrustworthiness.
It’s not just the fact that he was partying and knew what was going on – it’s the fact he lied and lied and lied afterwards.
And if he’d lie over a party, what else don’t we know?
Boris was the politician who reached votes that others couldn’t get to. Here in the Midlands – as well as in the North – he cut through to Red Wall voters, persuading them that things would be alright, that he’d get Brexit done, that £350 million a week would go to the NHS.
Some of those voters are unable or unwilling to accept their mistake – but that’s not what’s worrying the Tory MPs who will decide his fate. They’re pre-occupied with a far simpler question. If the traditional Tory voters of North Shropshire turned against Boris Johnson, what of True Blue constituencies with far smaller majorities?
While Boris may still have the winning touch in some Red Wall seats, those seats are coming at a far higher price as both Labour and particularly the Liberal Democrats move in on turf once considered sacred.
Put simply, voters who hold One Nation Conservative values aren’t down with lying.
They want someone they can trust, someone who won’t offer us imperial measurements when there’s a cost of living crisis, someone who has sufficient competence and skill to handle domestic issues and someone who won’t say he didn’t know about parties when he was at them.
The reaction to Boris Johnson could not have been in starker contrast to that received by Her Majesty the Queen. A unifying force – rather than a divisive one – the nation came together across a blissful weekend of parties and celebrations. Stability, wisdom, the common touch; such are the characteristics embodied by a sovereign whose sense of fun meant she was making clips with Paddington Bear while Boris Johnson was being booed.