For most politicians, being accidentally suspended several metres above the ground on a zipwire whilst trying to promote the Olympic Games taking place in your city would be considered a negative occurence.
But despite having an internet meme modelled after him, Mayor of London Boris Johnson seems to be riding high in the polls and in the general public estimation.
As Conservative Home notes:
Johnson is in a unique position: he is a national figure, an elected British politician with a large individual mandate, and does not have the pressure of constituency surgeries and whips, and so on. He is therefore able, in the style of American politicians (think Mitt Romney’s recent trip to London), to take a foreign trip and build his foreign policy credibility. His perceived rivals for the leadership (the Independent today gives the odds on Johnson, Gove, Osborne, Hammond, Hague and Davis) are not able to do that; they would either be on government business, or would slip under the radar.
A source tells the Times: “Frankly, Boris is one of the few people who could deliver this … his contact with sovereign wealth funds and big business leaders, as well as his draw as a political personality, is a key selling point for a lot of these people”.
These points are all very true. And given the strong leadership vacuum currently being left by the hapless David Cameron (though let’s wait to see what kind of Olympic bounce he might receive in the opinion polls) and the coalition strife being formented by Cameron’s decision to put off the government’s plans to modernise the House of Lords, a future Boris Johnson leadership challenge is certainly on the cards.
Cameron should take note – even if it results in the occasional misstep or gaffe, people appreciate authenticity and conviction most of all. Agree or disagree with him, Boris Johnson has both of these qualities. If they do lurk within David Cameron, he has yet to show them so far.