Boris Johnson sure knows how to make the front pages. His interview in the latest FT Weekend Magazine — with the cover quote ‘for the first time in years, I wished I was in Westminster’ — is a prime example of his strategy. He wants to remain in the public consciousness without revealing anything new. He’s done it several times before, often in similar ways:
1. After a period of inactivity, give an interview which appears revelatory
Boris flits in and out of the spotlight, particularly when he’s busy trying to run London. Then suddenly, he appears front and centre with ‘news’. In the FT’s interview, he says ‘during the whole Syria thing, for the first time in years, I wished I was in Parliament. I watched that and I thought … I wished, I wished’.
2. Don’t respond immediately – creating the perfect media storm
This allows the news bulletins, blogs and newspapers to become excited at the prospect of him challenging David Cameron, returning to Parliament early, winning the universe for the Tories etc.
3. Issue a denial that is not absolute
To clarify you are creating trouble and not planning on actually doing something. Today, he told the Evening Standard he is ’more likely to serve my country in that form than as either a Premier League footballer or the lead singer of a boy band’. Many will think it’s a denial but actually, he is saying it is unrealistic not impossible.
Previous examples: more chance of ‘being reincarnated as an olive’, ‘finding Elvis on Mars’ or being ‘decapitated by a frisbee’ than becoming Prime Minister.
4. Make a major public appearance
To capitalise on the above, which will involve a huge amount of media attention. It just so happens that in four days, Boris is giving a speech to the Tory conference in Manchester. Will it be covered by the national media? Yes. Will he be attacked by a press scrum when he arrives in Manchester? Absolutely.
This may seem cynical but there is definitely a path Boris loves to retread. It’s very likely this will happen again, several times, before the next election and before Boris’ term as Mayor is up.
His FT Weekend piece is a classic example of the Johnson media cycle — it says nothing new, nor does it alter his plan to finish his term as Mayor. But it gets everyone excited (once again) at the prospect Boris heading towards No.10.Tags: Boris Johnson, Conservative party, Financial Times, UK politics