Anna is a long-time friend of mine. She is a devout Anglican, English, and also a member of the Conservative Party. Thus, she had a vote in deciding whether Jeremy Hunt or Boris Johnson should become the next Conservative leader, and next Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
She’s a conscientious person and her pencil hovered over the choice of the two men for some time. Jeremy Hunt is a Christian, faithfully married and the father of three children. He has shown himself to be a steady political figure, although he has made some errors in office, as have most politicians.
Boris Johnson – well, everyone knows about Boris’s shambolic appearance, well-documented gaffes and a private life which, to be charitable, might be described as bewildering.
Nobody seems to know how many children he has – it’s a question political inquisitors have asked repeatedly, in the public realm.
A respectable historian, Dr David Starkey, has written frankly, in a respectable newspaper, that Boris is led by his libido. The commentator Camilla Long has described Johnson as an “appalling, destructive, emotionally cruel sex addict”.
In a recent, well-publicised episode Boris had a domestic ding-dong with his girlfriend, reported by the neighbours, as shouty words were exchanged and wine was chucked over a sofa – hardly the prescribed decorum for the occupant of 10 Downing Street. He is in the process of divorcing his second wife.
And yet Anna’s pencil hovered. I gave her the only advice that was in my capacity to give: “You’ll have to be guided by your conscience.”
In the end, yes, she put her endorsing mark against the candidature of Boris Johnson.
Boris had been a successful Mayor of London – traditionally a Labour city”
Boris, she thought, was the only person who brought dynamic energy to the job. Boris was able to galvanise others. Boris had been a successful Mayor of London – traditionally a Labour city – and had hired effective people to work with him.
Boris also had that most important quality of leadership – optimism. With optimism, you can solve problems, including that Rubik’s cube of a dilemma – the Irish border backstop.
And what Anna felt was that the most vital thing for her country, right now, was action, energy, and decisiveness. Jeremy was a good man, but Boris had that ‘x’ factor which propels action.
In politics, it’s not always moral character that wins the day (as we could perceive from the life of David Lloyd George, a gifted politician, but privately nicknamed “the goat”, because of his sexual morals).
And even supporters who themselves have high religious and moral standards may choose a candidate who seems to fall well short of the ideal, either for pragmatic reasons, or because they believe that redemption of character is always possible.
As Prime Minister, two of Johnson’s closest aides are likely to be Jacob Rees-Mogg and Iain Duncan Smith, both Catholics.
In the British media, his strongest supporter has been Charles Moore, a Catholic convert.
I’m a fan of the green way to stay cool!
In hot weather, there’s one item that you see commonly used in Paris, but very seldom in either Dublin or London: the hand-held fan. The French – and even more, the Spanish – have much recourse to the fan when the mercury rises.
I am a great fan of the fan, and own a pretty collection of them. They are effective against the heat, and, unlike artificial air conditioning, they neither damage the planet nor circulate germs. They are beautifully decorative and among the cheapest of little luxuries – often costing just a couple of eI’muros.
Yet the fanning of fans can annoy some people, and are sometimes considered an affectation. They’re not: they’re a very old and practical way of keeping cool.
At least Tory leader Boris Johnson was a Catholic…in the past!
Boris Johnson will be the first British Prime Minister who was baptised a Catholic, which was his mother Charlotte’s Faith. His godmother is Lady Rachel Billington, daughter of the high-minded convert Lord Longford.
Boris changed to the Church of England after he got a scholarship to Eton, but I did wonder if the rule of ‘once a Catholic, always a Catholic’ applied.
So I asked Fr Fergus O’Donoghue SJ, who knows about these things, and he informed me that if Boris Johnson was confirmed as an Anglican at Eton, then he is no longer a Catholic. “If we are baptised as Catholics, we’re regarded as remaining so unless we transfer to another denomination.”
The only Catholic element that seems to have stayed with Boris is his love of Latin: though there’s not a lot of that, today, in the Church of Rome.