This by William Hague in “The Times” today is a very fine article indeed. Informed, analytical and measured. There is a tinge of regret, as you’d expect from a Conservative, but no sentimental tosh. And it avoids completely the nonsense being spouted by others about “getting the big calls right” , a claim that is self evidently the reverse of the truth.
Hague uses the term “gifted leader” to describe Johnson and given the good sense of the rest of the piece I wondered why. I think it may be a bit of envy of Johnson’s charisma, not a characteristic one would associate with Hague who has never been Tiggerish. For that is what I think Johnson is at his best – a bouncing self-confident creature who entertains and perhaps inspires in a devil-may-care way. Boris is Boris.
But leadership is more complex and more nuanced than this. Theresa May couldn’t hack it because she was dull and frit. Cameron made a good fist of it for a while by following the model of Blair who, warts and all, was along with Thatcher Britain’s best post war leader. Every leader is a one-off – providing there is intellect and decency there is an infinite number of leadership models.
Johnson fails the leadership test because he fails the “decency” test. He is a lying reprobate and after a while people get sick of that. It’s not that he sells snake oil, though he does, but that he has no discernible moral compass. It was not Johnson’s performance on trial in the vote but his character.