A wise man can play the part of a clown but a clown can’t play the part of a wise man. – Malcolm X
Even his dwindling band of exhausted, glassy-eyed supporters, pitch-forked soon to a TV studio near you, could not say Boris Johnson is a wise man.
For too many years, however, our Prime Minister has been allowed to suggest he is a clever man despite the big shoes, bicycle horn, and buckets of confetti. As importantly, he managed to persuade Tory MPs he was a lucky man.
He may be a clown but no one who has endured this pandemic obeying the rules and restrictions is laughing today after more revelations of lockdown booze-ups in Number 10.
The punchline to this wretched joke of a premiership is that Johnson, while no doubt capable of crafting a knock-knock joke in Latin, is not at all clever. Or lucky.
If he was clever, he would be a different kind of man and a better kind of prime minister and if he was lucky, he would never have careered into a job that has so savagely exposed him to be shockingly, dismayingly out of his depth and, finally, out of time.
History will judge his MPs’ decision to inflict Johnson on a country reeling from Brexit and soon to be engulfed by Covid.
The judgment is likely to be harsh but the historians will also be left to wonder what on earth were the rest of us thinking? Why did we tolerate such a man in such a position at such a time?
Were we really so buffeted by bad news and disillusioned with politics that we simply tolerated a lightweight charlatan, bluffer and liar pretending to be a national leader capable of steering Britain through an unprecedented onslaught?
Well, yes, apparently, we were. Perhaps David Cameron had boosted our collective tolerance for privileged, entitled, arrogant, and fundamentally reckless prime ministers soon to be revealed as not nearly as clever – or lucky – as they had thought?
Hindsight is easy, of course, but it’s not actually hindsight when everyone said Johnson was unfit for office before he took office.
He is, and always has been, the most profoundly unserious man but was still chosen to lead us through the most serious times imaginable. It is frankly astonishing he has managed to make it this far but, surely, we are now into the end game?
Whether he goes after Sue Gray reports – although with more Downing Street parties emerging by the day, the civil servant’s investigation may last longer than the Edinburgh tram inquiry – or after the local elections in May, or at a later date chosen by the Men in Grey Suits (the fabled and grave figures of great power and wise judgment who, presumably, helped Johnson unpack his joke books and whoopee cushions after ushering him into Number 10), it now seems unthinkable this prime minister will lead the Conservatives into another election.
And when he finally climbs into his car to leave Downing Street for the last time, with the square wheels clunking, doors falling off, orange smoke puffing from the exhaust, and the water squirting from his flower making his make-up run like tears, there will be no laughter or applause.
Instead, there will only be the sound of silence as a nation quietly turns its back.
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