Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mr Johnson, who's that?

If you call someone by their first name it shows liking, or at least familiarity, and so perhaps that is why most of those with an ounce of political knowledge feel comfortable referring to Boris Johnson as simply Boris. He is unique in many way, perhaps the only famous person since Mr Yeltsin to be called Boris, and so he has a particular standing and recognition is part of that. I remain surprised that the recognition seems to be making him a viable candidate for London mayor after his history of gaffes and the bumbling image he presents on television, but he is now positioning himself as a serious candidate. Hence it is surprising that Labour Minister Tessa Jowell, after ordering Labour MPs to refer to him as the formal Mr Johnson, rather than Boris, has defended this move by saying she wanted to avoid the election being seen as a joke. Surely Mr Johnson offers gravitas, whereas Boris with the epithets of 'bumbling' etc he has had is less serious. But perhaps it is actually not about the seriousness of the election but the credibility and familiarity Boris enjoys as 'Boris' that Mrs Jowell is most concerned about as his lead is extended.

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