Saturday, August 11, 2007


Tribalism, the Journalist and Bozza.

It's odd how very clever people can still be led by their prejudices. I'm a great admirer of Max Hastings' journalism in The Guardian but have always suspected that, despite his voting Labour in 1997, deep down his natural Fleet St home is The Telegraph. His recent piece on Boris Johnson is a case in point(having found that pic of Bozza I just had to do a post on him)

With the appearance of objectivity he considers the merits of the two candidates: Ken did well on congestion charges but has squandered taxpayers money; Boris is a 'shrewd and thoughtful man' but has a 'manic instinct to play to the gallery'. Boris has been accused of racism but Ken said those awful things to the Evening Standard reporter. Boris

'has the brains, commitment and fundamental decency to run London. He would bring gaiety to the mayor's office, and there is plenty of room for it.

Seems there is much to like and dislike in both candidates but, one feels, that in the end it is tribal affinities which matter for Max. He, after all, is a Charterhouse and Oxford man; Red Ken a Tulse Hill comprehensive product. Ultimately Hastings' allegiance is as much in doubt as Boris's 'good eggedness':

I shall be rooting for Boris because I prefer his brand of recklessness to Ken's. I think he is also a much nicer bloke.

Even if they struggle to articulate it, the real reason why people are so excited about the prospect of a Ken v's Boris contest is because ordinary apolitical people recognise them as essentially 'cut from the same cloth'.

Whatever stark differences exist in their backgrounds or politics I think people know (even if subconsciously) that in terms of character and temprament they are one in the same - unpredicatable, dangerously honest, true to their principles and prone to gaffes and unwise associations. I suspect both are decent, honourable men who would give the job the best they had in them....

And that takes you full circle to your tribal observation.
I think you are both right re ability , honesty etc., but Boris's big problem is surviving the selection process and the campaign without imploding. Ken is an old enough hand to manage his own idiosyncracies comfortably but Boris, I'm not so sure.
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