He spoke for about a minute. Roughly 270 words. By the end of his first sentence hundreds were calling out for him. By the end of his speech they were all chanting in unison the name of a Conservative politician.
This is not America. We don’t do this. I doubt we’ve ever done this. We don’t lose control when listening to a politician. Do we?
Consumate use of epiplexis, tricolon thrown in with epistrophe encompassed in an act of pathos rarely seen convincingly delivered by a political speaker. It worked.
‘Heineken Boris’ is often touted as being one of the most popular politicians in the country. After last night what few doubters remained are now hushed into silence. Lessons can be learned from his character: he is cunning, deliciously charming and flatteringly bumbling. He mirrors one loveable characteristic of Englishness. A statesman can’t be like everyone. So there’s no choice but to be like a popular stereotype. If we find the others, and find politicians who embody populist elements of the national stereotype, then the Party and the Commons generally can expect a renaissance in the way electors engage in the system.
We don’t need them to vote, that will come later. We need them to care enough to pay attention when a politician speaks. Pay attention enough to rationalise, criticise and hold them to account. Pay enough attention to make the politician better.
Boris is a representation of the direct power and influence that politicians used to have over a constituency. The Mayor of London’s activities hark back to a time when statesmen were revered for their wisdom and their celebrity in equal measure – and both were important. Being a Roman consul was a dream forged on the honourable ambition to have your death mask in the atrium of your descendents homes. Being a politician was, at one time, a mark of honour and the exact opposite of something to be ashamed of.
Hundreds of MPs dedicate their lives to public service. It doesn’t matter whether they had a career toiling in a political office or forged their interests in the heat of industry. A career path pursued with a passion to do good with the power to genuinely make a difference is, and always will be, something special. And it can be popular again.
Boris reminded us of that today. Grab him, bottle him and sell him to the masses. ‘Heineken Boris’ and his ilk may be just the tonic the nation needs to wake up from its apparently apathetic slumber.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in all my life. The excitement has grown so much I think the Geiger counter of Olympomania is going to go zoink off the scale. People are coming from around the world and they’re seeing us and they’re seeing the greatest city on earth, aren’t they? And there are some people who are coming from around the world who don’t yet know about all the preparations we’ve done to get London ready in the last seven years. I hear there’s a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we’re ready. He wants to know whether we’re ready. Are we ready? Are we ready? Yes we are. The venues are ready. The stadium is ready. The aquatic centre is ready. The velodrome is ready. The security is ready. The police are ready. The transport system is ready. And our team GB athletes are ready aren’t they? Team GB is ready. They’re going to win more gold, silver and bronze medals than you’d need to bail out Greece and Spain together. Let me ask you in conclusion: can we, final question, can we put on the greatest Olympic games that has ever been held in any city? Can we? Are we worried about the weather? We’re not worried about the weather. Can we beat France? Yes we can! Can we beat Australia? Yes we can! Can we beat Germany? I think we can too. Thank you very much everybody, have a wonderful London 2012. Thank you for all your support.”Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, 26th July 2012
Written for Platform Ten