Governor Boris

I enjoyed this comment piece by the FT’s new political columnist Janan Ganesh, which systematically deflates the Boris for PM balloon. The mayor doesn’t stand a chance, writes Ganesh, because British voters tend to subject politicians to a whole other level of scrutiny when it’s national office at stake:

For all their crabby indifference to politics, Britons ask searching questions of anyone who aspires to govern their country, which is why opposition parties tend to shed support in the run-up to a general election. They will ask those questions of Mr Johnson if he ever made a bid for the highest office. Charm will not be a good enough answer. Even Mr Cameron, a purring Bentley of a career politician, has struggled to exercise true command. Mr Johnson has sublime intellect and a solid record as mayor but his previous attempt at a Westminster career peaked with the job of shadow higher education minister.

Ganesh also suggests a deeper reason for Boris being unlikely to make the transition from City Hall to Westminster proper: ‘Highly devolved nations such as the US are used to the idea that a politician can master a metropolis, or even a state, without being quite right to run a country.’

The converse is true as well, of course: the US provides a key intermediate level, the gubernatorial, with the post of governor having the clout, responsibility and kind of national standing to act as more of a genuine training ground for national politics (as an indication, just witness the influence of Chris Christie and Jeb Bush on the Republican primaries).


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