SOME politicians don’t really belong to any official grouping but are members of the Party Of Me. And yes, Boris, Ken and Donald – we are looking at you.
At the time of writing, the result of the London mayoral elections remains unknown, but one thing is certain: Boris won’t be Mayor of London any more.
This is probably just as well, because he is also the Conservative MP for Uxbridge and a leading figure in the so-called Brexit movement, on top of spending all that time on just being Boris. Johnson is now campaigning for Britain to leave Europe, in which capacity he made a tit of himself recently by saying that Barack Obama had no rights to express an opinion on Britain’s membership of the European Union as he was “part-Kenyan”.
Well, I suppose at least it can be said that Boris is all Boris. But the thing with Boris Johnson is that his charm, if that’s what it is, is all artifice; all that faux-bumbler stuff, all that lovable incompetence – it’s all a put-up job. And almost everything he does is all about Boris and the betterment of Boris (and getting one over on his old rival David Cameron).
Labour doesn’t exactly have a Boris equivalent, although Ken Livingstone comes close, in that almost anything he says or does is all about Ken. Perhaps it comes with having been Mayor of London or something.
Livingstone is the embarrassing old friend the Labour Party doesn’t need, and his eccentric interventions last week in support of the suspended Bradford MP Naz Shah were wildly unhelpful to his party – especially as Shah herself had already apologised for having once shared on Facebook an inappropriate post that was interpreted as an example of her party’s supposed antisemitism.
And just as the heat had been turned down under that pan of boiling milk, up pops Ken with an insane intervention when he argued that Hitler had been “supporting Zionism” in 1932 “before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews”.
As Alan Johnson once remarked, there is no crisis in the Labour Party that an intervention by Ken Livingstone cannot make worse.
One aspect of this that seems not to have drawn comment is that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was responsible for the resurrection of Ken – and look where it’s got him.
But anything we can do the Americans can do ten times better, especially when it comes to monstrous egos. Donald Trump, the man with airliners and luxury tower blocks cast in his own image, is the ultimate member of the Party of Me; so much so that in his bid to be president of the US, he has hijacked a whole party. The orange-haired billionaire and gushing spout of virulent nonsense is now almost certain to be the Republican candidate (and almost equally certain to be going up against Hillary Clinton).
This is quite an achievement as many in the Republican Party cannot stand the sight of him. Trump has basically executed a hostile takeover of the Republicans, which must be the ultimate triumph for Me Politics.
So American’s grand old right-wing party now has as its presidential figurehead a maverick egotist whose flamboyant brand of me-politics is capturing the imagination of millions of Americans who are weary of all the other politicians. And God help them.
Incidentally, Trump thinks Britain should leave Europe, so perhaps he could form a Me-Me collation with Boris.