Boris on Board

An insight to the public persona of the man they call bumbling


Finlay Macleay | Tue, 16 Jul 2019


Boris Johnson

From buses to bikes, Boris Johnson’s association with land transport is growing. Perhaps if his leadership bid falls through, he could form a park and ride service. Or perhaps not. The former Mayor of London has been through quite a tough time recently, but not park and ride tough. I doubt he’s ever been on a bus. Apart from that really big red one.

Despite being one of two final leadership candidates, there is surprisingly little to celebrate. Boris is possibly the most scrutinised man in Britain and the scrutiny just keeps coming. After providing flimsy responses during recent interviews and receiving nationwide attention for a domestic incident, his path to the premiership has been bumpy at best. And that is precisely why his bus painting is intriguing. The thought of a future Prime Minister retrieving two wine cases, sticking them together and proceeding to paint the exterior of a bus along with passengers is just bizarre. But that is the point.

Newspapers are a major part of politics. They are slowly vanishing from the streets, but the headlines are still glanced at. For some, it’s their primary source of information and they often form opinions off what they read. Unsurprisingly Boris’s Art Attack-esque depiction of his downtime made the pages of almost every newspaper across Britain. Not because it’s news but because it’s oddly believable.

The reason it could be legitimate is down to Boris himself. He seems to always be in character. When on camera he gives off a chaotic, scattered impression. Bumbling Boris is how he likes it, not hard-working or persevering, that might result in expectation. The less people expect, the better in his view. It’s obvious that he’s aware of how important perception is. Honest politicians (if you believe in that sort of thing) don’t attract much positivity as they would discuss the truth which is often depressing. Boris on the other hand as it is well known, tries to exclusively represent good news, sweeping aside the bad.

This is why the bus comments are so intriguing. His leadership bid is in a very sensitive period. People often form an opinion of something before experiencing it and that dually applies to Boris being at the helm. Subsequently, he needs this first week to go right, which it hasn’t. So how does he bounce back from this? In typical fashion, he doesn’t. Instead he claims to paint buses onto wine cases in order to distract. So while everyone talks about that, the criticism dilutes.

But what if he does genuinely paint the buses? That would be rather odd. Maybe he’s constructing the world he’d like to live in through the medium of paint and wine cases. In a large room within his house, the wine cases come to life for Boris. The people on the bus smile contagiously, figures that are five cases tall hunt a half case fox and adjoined cases resembling banks with speech bubbles above reading ‘thanks old boy’ scatter the room while in the middle, a ten-case tall Boris stands. Would that be less weird than if he exclusively paints buses? I don’t think so. However, I do know that it would be unpractical, he’d probably spill wine all over them. It might be better to use tougher, less permeable material.

So will Boris achieve leadership? It’s very likely. Despite Jeremy Hunt displaying the qualities of a leader throughout this early stage, Boris’s ability to wriggle out of trouble will undoubtedly continue. The public and his fellow politicians alike seem to just let him off. They now seem to expect the blunders from him. Regardless of who wins the leadership it will be interesting to see where Boris goes next. Number 10, cabinet or park and ride, who knows?

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