The plates are moving. I observed before that the run-away favourite in the leadership race even before it has begun is Boris Johnson, but that he is not popular amongst his colleagues, nor amongst those concerned for the social conservative heart of the party.
Nothing moulds a man’s opinion of another quite like the prospect of their career depending on him. Liked or not, with movement in his direction, the plates are shifting around Boris Johnson. Some who previously said they would not work with Boris Johnson have softened and praised him, and brushed aside all the flaws in his character and conduct.
This could end up with a classic Conservative Party coronation, with all dissenting voices hushed and a universal chant of ‘Slava! Slava! Slava!‘ as the chosen one ascends the steps of Number 10. Two leaders have fallen; a third stands. Before we look so far though, what of the man himself, and will he shine or make a complete hash of it?
We may in fact have mistaken his promise.
He is a showman, no doubt, but then so was Tony Blair, and he won three elections on the trot. He should in theory do better for the country than Blair simply because he and his team are sound Conservatives with, between them, the sort of experience of the real world that Blair (and in fact Cameron) lacked.
The downside was examined recently on ‘The Conservative Woman‘ (our colleague Fay reads it: she’s not written anything for us yet, at least nothing Master Hobbes found decent and proper to print). Their article ‘Anyone But Boris’ is sobering.
Nonetheless, Blair made a go of it because he had Gordon Brown as a sobering influence. Cameron had George Osborne and Theresa May (and although both have since undergone a damnatio memoriae, before the mechanics of Brexit so overwhelmed politics they were the steadying influence a fresh-faced new governed needed). Who will Boris have? That depends on whom he calls to his side: Michael Gove, David Gauke, James Brokenshire and some more reticent souls not yet in the government may be persuaded to bring the stability which an impulsive character requires.
The real division in the party and politics is not Brexit but character. A judgment of character is always wrong, and my worries are of character, not of ability. Boris is the brightest in the pack, no doubt about it, and that chummy, clownlike attitude affected since his university days is off-putting to those of us who prefer a sober mien.
However, I go back to something Jordan Peterson has discussed, on differing character traits: we need both the sober, exact, conservative disposition and also the messy, creative, liberal disposition in our body politic. Boris shows the latter characteristic in spades, just as Theresa May shows the former. The two types perceive the world about them in completely different ways, neither wrong but different. They might not get on, and will annoy each other intensely, but if they can work together in government then with two eyes not one they will see the nation in three dimensions.