And as a backbench Conservative MP that is more or less what he was. A relic of England’s past, but a relatively amusing one.
However, having found himself propelled to a measure of importance as the Mayor of London, he has a more prominent role in the life of the English nation. And Boris, it seems, is not really cut out for that kind of scrutiny.
A few months ago, the English and possibly some Scots, Irish and Welsh descended upon London in mighty numbers to demonstrate about cuts in ...well, just about everything. There was a wide range of people from all sorts of backgrounds, including some of Boris’s own class. Most of them were peaceful and marched, as is their right, through London on a route agreed, until they massed in Hyde Park for a series of speeches by politicians and union leaders, countryside and student campaigners.
Before they got to Hyde Park, some of them branched off and headed for Oxford Street and Piccadilly where, disassociated from the bulk of the march, they engaged in various degrees of more direct action.
One group decided to have a sit-in in toff’s store, Fortnum & Masons in Piccadilly. TV cameras were allowed in, and the coverage I saw was peaceful. Mr Johnson, however, stated on ‘Question Time’ that the protestors had done 'tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage'.
Unfortunately for Mr Johnson a member of the Fortnum staff has said that the damage was minimal and he (Johnson) was asked by a London Assembly member to justify his remarks, which he did thus:
“The point that I was making was that the occupation of Fortnum & Mason was pure vandalism … The fact that Fortnum and Mason is owned by a charitable foundation, provides many jobs and pays its taxes was clearly lost on these ‘activists’.”
Not much of a justification for a tale of 'tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage' which actually was not done.
Boris maybe should be quiet about vandalism in any case. The people I saw sitting in in Fortnum’s were late teen/early twenties, student types, not unlike Bullingdon Club members David Cameron, George Osborne and ……yes, Boris Johnston, 20 something years ago, whose pleasure it was to get drunk and trash restaurants in Oxford and elsewhere.
Boris himself wrote in his autobiography: "We got drunk, trashed the Ritz and then went down Piccadilly to loot a few items from Fortnum's".
I wonder how it was OK for them to steal from Fortnums while drunk, and it wasn’t OK for a group of peaceful protestors of the same age to occupy the store for an hour or so 20 odd years later.
Incidentally, the Charitable trust which owns Fortnum’s, the Garfield Weston Foundation, was found by the Charitity Commission to have broken the law in its donations of over £1 million to the Conservative party. Could the moral indignation, not to mention hypocrisy, stem from that?
Pics: Boris on Bike using phone (probably illegal), and Boris before he got fat, when he was young, beautiful and shop lifting from Fortnum's.