It isn’t that I could ever consider what Boris Johnson says as funny, it is just that at times I can’t help thinking of him in the same terms I’d consider a failed comedian.
Other than both being a being an embarrassingly sad replica of the real thing, they have something else in common .
Any good comedian will tell you that it isn’t just the content that matters, it is the timing. Get that wrong and no-one really cares what you have just said, you are sunk without trace.
But actually there is more and astonishingly there is research to prove this .
According to the authoritative comedy blog “deadant co “ ( it really exists, I’m not making this stuff up ) there are 7 big mistakes that Comedians make when they are starting out :-
1 Using foul language or being sexually graphic (Is using language that no-one else outside of Eton understands a substitute? Not sure if excess of children counts, here so I’ll give Boris a pass)
2 Trying to stick to a voice – for this you might say continuing with a message even though it is dead in the water and no-one wants to hear it . ( Think …no new Referendum .)
3 “Dissing” the audience, treating them without respect or being mocking …bit close Boris. Mocking Starmer then doing exactly what he said ,2 days later, wasn’t a high point even for you.
4 Playing to the back of the room -or talking to the cognoscenti, those who you want to impress rather than the rest of us. How many times has the ERG and the 1922 committee been mentioned? Yes I think a tick there .
5 Getting on stage a too often or too little. Suggest you look at Nicola Sturgeon’s performance.
6 Following the herd. Or perhaps the baying carpet chewing far right in your own party to the exclusion of the rest of us ?
7 …and finally, dressing badly . QED
On that conclusive note I’d like to move back to timing . This Prime Minister’s capacity to say the right thing at the wrong time is only matched, indeed exceeded, by his capacity to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. It is surreal.
If there is any point in time to declare a great victory, a personal a life and career defining triumph ( in your not so humble opinion ) then around 7pm on Christmas Eve is pretty close to the worst timing imaginable . Frankly, that there was no choice because you ran it down to the wire, is your fault not ours . The Prosecco was already open. On Christmas Eve, even this Christmas Eve, Boris, no-one really cares about Brexit . We sort of made our minds up a while back ?
Oven ready deals are great served piping hot . To be honest this “oven ready” deal is so delayed and has been on the shelf for so long, we probably face a long period of economic salmonella . So Christmas Eve? Poor timing .
As we turned to the turkey, Europe sighed and went for a glass of calvados with the disdain of closing the door on a particularly antisocial relative. Having done your duty, you can now leave them to stew in their own juice for a respectable period of time . Not our problem.
But there are far more worrying examples of poor timing than the catastrophic right wing ego fest that is Brexit
Johnson’s performance on Covid related health measures has been so bizarre as to be a confusion about confusion .
To have no sense of shame in saying that he “ follows the science” while at the same time saying “ scientists have different opinions and we have to take political decision about them “ is surreal. The decisions are your’s and the timing related to the announcements that you make or fail to make are your Government’s alone. So you must take responsibility for the outcomes. It isn’t the bug’s fault, whatever the variant. It seems everyone knew there would be variants and no-one was saying they would all be benign . Hoping against hope is not a viable tactic when dealing with pathogens.
Over Christmas Scottish school teachers had a plan in their minds about a return in January that allowed them but also Scottish Government, time to see the impact of Christmas and the new variant and make informed decisions. But without the pressure of unrealistic expectations .
Westminster by comparison stuck to a pre-planned rhetoric and Johnson went on the Marr show intent on messaging about a schools return that within hours would be challenged by educators around the England .Indeed some had already made their point . This is the political equivalent of putting cotton wool in your ears and singing “la la la .” Any sensible politician would have held back on saying that the tier system was working when it clearly isn’t. But no, like a lemming who has forgotten the meaning of the word “ cliff” off he went demanding that schools go back the next day “ or else.”
That is the problem of a bully that threatens, it only takes one challenge to ensure that the tactic can never work again . You use it when it matters – timing .
So as Scotland locks down, with the writing patently on the wall England waits to see what might happen. The lack of willingness to take a decision is a failure of timing but also leadership that will have grave consequences. A sad and as I wrote it unintended pun, but which very regrettably may be apt. England, be prepared to U-Turn. Schools; shops , pubs , restaurants, in England have been U- turned so often they probably have no idea in which direction they are pointing .
On Marr, too, Johnson stated that he would in effect not agree to a new referendum in Scotland for in effect, about 40 years. I wonder what the position will be by June ? This matters because the Brexit deal intends to return powers to Westminster not Scotland, see the above for reasons to be concerned.
Mr Johnson, post your political career , which I sense may not be so far away, can you for once in your life listen to advice? Don’t try the Edinburgh Fringe.
You have neither the material nor the timing .