Polly Toynbee has a visceral hatred of Boris Johnson. A truly vicious despising of the man and the ground he walks upon. Which could be fair enough to be honest, he’s certainly a cad which is would engender the vituperation from any generation’s matriarchs – of which Polly is one of ours of course.
Even so this is pretty strong:
The charm, the magic, the charisma were well polished – and this is as good as the man gets on best behaviour after weeks of behind-the-scenes training. If you puzzle as to how this man, unfit for every office he has held, can be about to sweep into Downing Street, his performance today is the answer. His snake oil of choice is optimism, so miserably lacking in politics now, radiating out of him like sunshine. All fake, all sun-ray lamp that turns off in private, but it outshines his rivals and dazzles anyone willing to ignore everything we know about his rotten-to-the-core character. Cheering in the room erupted rapturously from the remarkable assembly of MPs backing him from all wings of the party. Many know him bitterly well from trying to work with him, yet there they were, shamefully prepared to subject their country to the whims of a man they know is unsafe at any speed. A man without qualities, devoid of public spirit or regard for anyone but himself, consumed by lifelong ambition, needy for acclaim and irritable when it’s denied, willing to swing dangerously in any direction to be loved, a man to shame the country as its figurehead.
She’s got that last wrong of course, the figurehead is the Queen which is why we still have her rather than the President John Prescott we would have got.
But what is it that drives this sort of hatred?
Born in New York to wealthy upper-middle class English parents, Johnson was educated at the European School of Brussels, Ashdown House, and Eton College. He read Classics at Balliol College, Oxford,
She passed one A-level, obtained a scholarship to read history at St Anne’s College, Oxford, but dropped out of university after eighteen months.
It’s possible to argue about how much family contacts swung entry for Boris there but that’s certainly a more distinguished academic career.
He was assistant editor from 1994 to 1999 before taking the editorship of The Spectator from 1999 to 2005.
At The Independent, which she joined after leaving the BBC, she was a columnist and associate editor, working with then editor Andrew Marr. She later rejoined The Guardian. She has also written for The Observer and the Radio Times; at one time she edited the Washington Monthly USA.
He appears to be a better editor. Certainly a more successful one.
Joining the Conservatives, he was elected MP for Henley in 2001,….Selected as Conservative candidate for the 2008 London mayoral election, Johnson defeated Labour incumbent Ken Livingstone …..In 2012, he was re-elected to the office, again defeating Livingstone; during his second term he oversaw the 2012 Summer Olympics. In 2015 he was elected MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip,….He was appointed Foreign Secretary by Theresa May,
Toynbee and her first husband Peter Jenkins (from 1970) were supporters of the Social Democratic Party breakaway from Labour in 1981, both signing the Limehouse Declaration. Toynbee stood for the party at the 1983 General Election in Lewisham East, garnering 9351 votes (22%), and finishing third.
He’s rather more electable, has had a better political career.
Both started from highly privileged positions in British life. He seems to have done rather more with his start than she.
But what will undoubtedly really rankle is that not only is he brighter, more successful, he’s also – arguably if you wish – the better writer.
Actually, explaining Polly’s column isn’t all that difficult, is it?