Monday, November 15, 2004

Bye Bye Boris

Was Howard right to sack Boris?

It isn't a nice story - he has a wife and four children and had an affair with a fellow journalist Petronella Wyatt which resulted in her having an abortion. But is it any of our business?

This story has been an open secret for quite a while - Private Eye have dropped some heavy hints about it for months.

If Howard hadn't acted, he might have appeared weak (he sacked him within three hours of the News of the World contacting Boris with their latest story).

However, he has got rid of one of the very few recognisable members of the front bench and one of the most media friendly. Boris may play the buffoon, but he isn't as daft as he looks. Eccentric he may be, but he has enough style to pull it off:

Speaking through the letter box at a pal's house last night, Boris said: "I am sorry this decision has been taken in response to stories about my private life. I am looking forward to helping promote a new Conservative policy on the arts, if only from the back benches, and I will continue to do my upmost to serve the people of Henley and south Oxfordshire. I am now going to have a stiff drink.''

Boris shows the kind of face that the Tory party needs to have - he appeals to a different demographic and opens doors to younger people who wouldn't vote for Howard and Letwin, but might listen to Boris. Let's face it, he's known by his forename, not his surname. People like Boris and the Tories need desperately to be liked. He even has a website and the best Tory blonde hair since Michael Heseltine left (Michael Fabricant doesn't count - that can't be real).

Howard may have done the right thing in the short term, but it could prove to be a strategic mistake for the party.

It might prove to be good for Boris though - it kills the story and lets him sort his problems out without too much public glare. He will also be able survive this and come back after the next election untarnished by the expected failure.

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