Coffee House

It is when Boris comes from the right that he is a threat to Cameron

30 October 2010

The ease with which Number 10 dealt with Boris Johnson’s sally on housing benefit has revealed something important. A challenge from Boris is a threat to Cameron when Boris is vocalising the concerns of the right. But the mayor is far less dangerous when he is doing anything else.

As one person close to the Tory leadership reflected to me on Friday, Boris’s interventions on Europe and 50p have caused Cameron problems because they have been immediately amplified by the right and Cameron has been conscious that most of his party agrees with Boris not him on the issue. But pretty much no one on the right agrees with Boris on housing benefit so his remarks fell on deaf ears.


There is undoubtedly a space in British politics for a voice to the right of David Cameron. When Boris is filling that space he is a danger to Cameron. But when he is not, it is far easier for Cameron to put him back in his box.


More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us now.

  • justathought

    Canny Boris’s HB comments were aimed at the target audience of large families in London. He was reacting to Ken Livingstone’s support for the newly elected independent Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman.

    Boris as politician and historian could see the the election of Lutfur Rahman was a victory for Islamic entryism into British politics akin to that which has hitherto only been seen outside London in say Bradford.

    The election of Rahman and his Muslim supporters represents a high water mark in the Balkanisation of London politics brought through the support of the Muslim brotherhood. Boris would calculate that large muslim families would be a sizable constituent beneficiary of the current generous Housing benefits allowance and therefore worthy of his supportive comments.

    If that’s the case then he should be aware that they would not necessarily support him and indeed would support his rival. Indeed more generally his comments are out of line with the mainstream view that this HB is a scam that mainly benefits welfare immigrants with large families.

    Not entirely unrelated the Telegraph has reported on the scandal of sham marriages that have been conducted by the Church of England, including the diocese of Southwark which has seen a seven fold increase to 658 in 2004. God only knows what the figures are for the past six years. It shows a worrying alliance between the COE and the Muslim that the COE has keep silent or ignored what has been ‘going on’. Perhaps the COE is indeed worried about the Bradford effect taking place in Southwerk ?

    It would seem that the COE was exempted from the rule introduced in 2005 that non-EU nationals obtain approval from the Home Office before civil marriage at the Registry Office. This loophole accounts for the increase in COE marriages to access full benefits including housing.

  • TrevorsDen

    I think the ease with which No 10 dealt with Boris is down to the fact that Boris never said anything controversial; the media put words into his mouth.

    It also points to Boris not being that good a politician in being drawn into the confusion.

    Pothead, d’Ancona is talking bollocks, but then there is a lot of that on this thread. Cameron is a standard mainstream conservative – so to is Boris, he is not right wing; its instructive to note that the people who do not like that are the usual donkey headed loony tunes.

    David Davis has shown his own political judgement to be totally bonkers and again its instructive to note that its the loony tunes who aspire to cheering him on.

  • strapworld

    Vulture. You are right, but popularity apart. Here we have a senior Conservative Party official making a most stupid statement on a subject which, I believe, the vast majority of the British people agree with. Housing benefit. That statement was made twice and that is why the man should be sacked.

    Perhaps he can then lead Ukip so we could have a big joke leading a joke party?

    Mind you I was extremely impressed by the young tresury minister Golding. Now there is a woman with balls! Let us keep an eye on her.

    Cameron is a one tour of duty prime minister. He will be removed.

  • Vulture

    No other Tory apart from Boris could have beaten Leninspart and become London’s Mayor.

    The point about Bozza is that he is popular with the public. People love him because he makes them laugh. His sexual shenanigans – which would have finished a more conventional person like Dave – are forgiven on these grounds. He’s a showbiz politico who hides his cleverness behind a mask of buffoonery.

    He’s too lazy, un-ideological and self-centred to make a principled leader of the Right, though, and many of his ‘positions’ ( eg. backing Turkish entry to the EU because of his own Ottoman ancestry) are eccentrically left-wing.

    It’s the Tory tragedy that unlike in Heath’s day, there is no Thatcher waiting in the wings to do for Heath-Cameron.

  • strapworld

    I have mentioned before that he should have been sacked from the Conservative Party and been removed as the official conservative party candidate for the London Mayoral election.

    That Cameron has not is further proof that this “leader” does not possess a backbone!

  • John Palmer

    Quite right.

  • Fatbloke on tour

    Maidstone Mentalist @ 6.39

    BJ positioning?
    Tory Party left or right?
    BJ wants to be at the centre alright
    The centre of everyone’s attention.

    Dave the Rave = ShamCam
    Upper middle class on the climb.
    Desperate to be seen as landed gentry.
    His marriage was all about breeding.

    BJ on the other hand …
    Nasty piece of work.
    He needs the money as well as the attention.

  • Pot Head

    Matthew d’Ancona on top form in Sunday Telegraph on Boris V Dave

    He argues that Boris is right to stand up to Cameron, and if Cameron truly believes in the Big Society he should be cheering Boris on for standing up for London, and not have his acolytes slapping him down.

    “By accident or design, Boris incarnates the sheer bloody-minded, untameable awkwardness of the Big Society. In the truest sense, Dave asked for it.”

  • normanc

    There are voices to the right in UK politics. Unfortunately for Conservative Party members they are all in UKIP.

    We really could do with ‘the bastards’ making a sally or two, and Cameron’s abject failure over the EU budget provides an opportunity to apply some pressure.

  • sinosimon

    can you have a right wing solipsist?

  • Peter From Maidstone

    Boris is neither to the right nor the left of Cameron. He is firmly at the centre of himself.


    Yes James, the missing voice of the Right. People like Carswell are not significant enough and neither is euro Hannan. The voice Dave would have to fear would be that of DD but for the moment he chooses semi invisibility. That he so chooses should make Dave that much more fearful.

Can't find your Web ID? Click here