Sunday, 18 May 2008

Boris Johnson: Dishonesty and Incompetence

During his campaign to be Mayor, Londoners were told that Boris Johnson's journalism career showed what he could really achieve in his political career. But when Londoners turned round and quoted the results of that career, they were accused of smearing and traducing him.

But now those smears and battles are over, we are again being told that his journalistic successes are a sign of his future political successes. Boris' glittering career, the Evening Standard tell us, shows us that only he has the 'Honesty and Competence' to do the job. 

So now we have four years of that honesty and competence ahead of us, let's look at some previous examples of his honesty and competence, told by the people who saw them first hand- his fellow journalists:


Boris Johnson apparently had some success as a correspondent in Brussels. However, Boris' initial success was perhaps not all that it seemed, as Matthew Bell reveals in today's Independent on Sunday:
Matthew Bell: During his time as Brussels correspondent for 'The Daily Telegraph', Boris Johnson impressed his editor by filing story after exclusive story, all apparently unnoticed by other papers. There were mutterings that these scoops were perhaps not as firmly wedded to the truth as might have been desirable. Most memorable among them was a story in 1991 following an announcement by the European Commission that it was leaving its Berlaymont headquarters because of the health and safety risks from leaking asbestos. Johnson's explosive take on this was that the much-despised building was subsequently to be blown up. Seventeen years later, although it is now free of asbestos, the EC has yet to pack the walls with dynamite.
After Boris gained his first journalism job at the Times, he quickly lost it again when it was discovered that he had invented a quotation from his godfather, Colin Lucas. The quotation lost Boris his job and seriously damaged the academic and professional reputation of his godfather.
Boris Johnson: It was a complete nightmare of a disaster, and to make it even worse, that very week Colin was trying to become master of Balliol College. He later succeeded - but not that time. Of all the mistakes I've made, I think that takes the biscuit.

Boris Johnson's editorship of the Spectator and it's increased circulation is held up by supporters and himself as an example of why he is up to the job. Boris, we are told 'is a master of delegation.' However, quite how much of a master he is, was revealed by one of his colleagues at the Spectator:
Matthew Parris: Having been one of Mr Johnson’s stable of writers when he was editor of The Spectator, I must challenge Ken Livingstone’s complaint that as former editor of a small right-wing magazine, the only administrative decision Mr Johnson ever took was choosing a restaurant for lunch. This paints an exaggeratedly hands-on picture of the Boris management style. His secretary did that kind of thing. You were just lucky if Boris came to the lunch.
During the campaign, this tendency to miss appointments was revealed in a number of cancelled appearances and hustings. All of which was no surprise to a fellow journalist at The Times
David Aaronovitch: There is hardly a senior soul in this business who hasn't turned up to an evening with Boris, to discover that it is an evening with anyone but. "I'm sorry," says the chair, anticipating the boos of disappointment, "but Boris Johnson is unable to be with us." followed by some lie."
When Boris couldn't or didn't make it to some of these appointments he would sometimes send a weary representative in his place. This was a trend noticed by another colleague at The Telegraph:
Simon Heffer: There were stooges when Mr Johnson was en route to be president of the Oxford Union. He has had stooges all through journalism, who did significant parts of his various jobs for him, usually with little thanks or reward. And now there are stooges in politics. If Mr Johnson became Mayor tomorrow, he would be the front man for nameless others who would run London. That may well be better than more of Mr Livingstone. It would not be what people think they are voting for.
So there you have it. Honesty and Competence in equal measures. 

So as Boris reveals exactly what he will and will not be doing over the coming weeks, let's just hope that his future successes are not achieved in quite the same ways as his previous ones were.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

things can only get better?