Not since Margaret Thatcher has a prime minister “provoked such visceral loathing”, says Janice Turner in The Times. Even the mention of “Johnson” – “the familiar ‘Boris’ risks an embolism” – makes some of my friends pound the table: “Bullingdon, adulterous, selfish, reckless, lying, sleazy, chancer…” So why doesn’t this show in the polls? Why do people warm to this “terrible human being”? The answer is not just that his supporters have “priced in” his flaws. They actually find them reassuring: the six (or so) children, the two divorces, the demanding girlfriend, the weight problem. “His life is a blur of chaos and drama.” In popular parlance, he’s “a messy bitch”.
Nobody believes our PM, with his “filthy car and ill-fitting suits”, cares about wallpaper. And when they see “Carrie Antoinette” running up a gargantuan décor bill, they think of the sister-in-law who went bonkers doing a kitchen extension. So long as Johnson didn’t “wang it on expenses”, they’ll shrug. The PM’s supporters instinctively distrust neat, smooth professional men; they find lawyerly Keir Starmer more trustworthy than Johnson, but believe the latter, “forever undone by his own appetites”, is more likely to sympathise with their own frailties. If the pandemic were out of control, it would be different. But for once Britain is the envy of the world, and no one wants to listen to a “pursed-lip puritan… they’d rather dance with the messy bitch”.