PETER HITCHENS: Boris’s big ‘domestic’ is one thing I’m not worried about

Actually I rather disapprove of a nosey parker neighbour recording and reporting the domestic doings of Al ‘Boris’ Johnson and his girlfriend.

If couples cannot shout at each other in private, and even perhaps hurl an object or two, without a recording being sent to the Guardian newspaper (whose editor and staff no doubt have home lives of utter non-sexist calm), then we are all doomed. Excuses will be offered that the girlfriend might have been in danger of domestic abuse and so on. But we all know they will be excuses. 

My guess is that the ageing Mr Johnson was in more danger, had things turned rough.

For heaven’s sake, this kind of thing ought not to decide the fate of nations. We already have many perfectly respectable reasons to think Mr Johnson is utterly unfit for high office.

Peter Hitchens says he is not worried about Boris Johnson’s (pictured yesterday in Birmingham at the Tory hustings) relationship woes but more his lack of policies

The main one is the very real possibility that Mr Johnson will turn out to be the new Blair. 

Once again, a dying political movement is projecting all its desires and fantasies on to one man who has neither the power nor the brains nor the ability to live up to them.

In this country of unpleasant realities, too messed-up and indebted to be cured except by unpleasant, nasty-tasting remedies, Mr Johnson is a fantasy figure who can do all our worrying for us.

His laugh and wuffly voice, the long trail of lovely, mistreated but forgiving women he leaves behind him, promise a jolly picnic in the summer sunshine. 

When it later turns out that he has forgotten to bring any food, and we are compelled by a predicted downpour (he did not check the forecast) to limp home, soggy and hungry, he will manage to make us all laugh as we squelch along.

Well, I say all. There will be a few sour faces, a few muttering dissenters, such as me. But the power of Mr Johnson’s personal magic will be so great that we will be told to stop complaining, and even blamed for the disaster. For his admirers, like zombies or cultists, immediately lose all ability to think or criticise.

To be at a Johnsonist rally is to suffer a sort of dictatorship of merriment. Fail to chortle, and you begin to get dirty looks.

He can also do no wrong. I suspect that almost all of his millions of admirers will already be dismissing the screams and yells from Camberwell with the standard shrug of ‘That’s Boris!’


More from Peter Hitchens for The Mail on Sunday…

Well, and so what? Except that the Johnsonists have their genuinely dark side, which is quite chortle-free. Anyone who has watched this contest carefully will have noticed the strong smell of brimstone, of weak and inexperienced Tory MPs bullied and threatened, of attempts to breach the secrecy of the ballot. 

There are, I suspect, lists of friends and lists of enemies. And whenever those are being drawn up, it is the honourable person’s job to be sure to be numbered among the enemies.

I am still assuming here that the Johnsonists will capture the Tory Party membership and win the ultimate ballot. 

Of course, I cannot know this for certain. But as the choice of Jeremy Hunt would only be a disappointment of a different nature, I cannot really get very worked up about it. 

The wearisome decision placed before the Tory Party this damp June was the inevitable result of decades during which it has simply closed its ears and eyes to real politics and survived through crude bribes and insincere slogans.

What if Mr Johnson actually manages to get the No Deal exit he says he is ready to risk? Does he have a clue what he is doing?

But that’s only part of it. Mr Johnson, who shamefully thought the answer to street disorder was water cannon, has no serious conservative opinions or policies on anything important, such as immigration, crime, education or drugs. Those who know him well all agree that he is as socially liberal as any Blairite.

Some think he will legalise marijuana, as many ‘modern’ Tories already wish to do, so as to get down with the kids. Because he is genuinely bamboozled by Green cultists, he will cheerfully wreck the economy and subject us to power cuts, a mad policy even on its own terms. 

I suspect he quietly welcomes Left-wing attacks on his frivolous remarks about burkas, because these bring simple-minded Tommy Robinson types to his camp.

I know it won’t do any good. None of my warnings ever do. But Al Johnson perfectly embodies the hard and ancient truth that optimism is about the most dangerous attitude in life and politics, always has been and always will be. It won’t be long before I can say ‘I told you so’, yet again.

Empire lives on in Hong Kong

The admirable protesters of Hong Kong who have – for a while – faced down the Chinese state by their courage and resolution, have in fact been demonstrating in favour of the British Empire.

The things they wisely seek to protect – free speech and the impartial rule of law – came with our power. China’s modern empire, by contrast, brings surveillance and thought-control. 

And while we bitterly regret episodes such as the Amritsar massacre, Peking makes no apology for the far worse massacre of Tiananmen Square.

Those who think our Empire was wholly and simply bad, and seek to wipe out all trace of it, should try explaining that to the people of Hong Kong.

Can’t they just get a cab?

Why do royalty and politicians in this country need motorcycle outriders at all? This foreign panoply, best suited to military juntas, has no place on our streets. 

On ceremonial rides, there is the Household Cavalry, who can certainly cope with anything a motorcycle-riding constable can. 

If it’s just a journey, then what’s wrong with hailing a taxi, or riding a pushbike? Most of them aren’t half as recognisable as they vainly think they are. 

Outriders, sirens and whistles just draw the attention of nutcases, and cause resentment. 

Prince William's security was involved in a crash last week that ended with a pensioner breaking her pelvis after a collision with a motorcycle

Prince William’s security was involved in a crash last week that ended with a pensioner breaking her pelvis after a collision with a motorcycle

We’re on the road to a pointless new war 

Some years ago I travelled to Iran under the guidance of my friend, Jason Rezaian, who showed me that marvellous country as it really is, and introduced me to real Iranians in their homes.

The horrible people who control the Deep State in Tehran hated what Jason was doing. 

The more he persuaded Westerners to see Iran as what it is – an ancient civilisation most of whose people yearn for the freedoms and prosperity of the West – the more these despots seethed. 

They did not want a rapprochement with the West. They feared it would threaten their power, so they arrested my friend on preposterous charges of espionage and locked him away.

Largely thanks to the efforts of the US Secretary of State John Kerry, who handled the case with a mixture of skill and strength rare in these times, Jason got out in the end. But these things exact a high price, especially on kind, honest men such as he is.

Then the Mullahs were threatened again, by a clever peace deal which, in time, would in my view have brought their rule to an end. But then President Trump made his crazy decision to rip up that deal, which can only be motivated by a desire to please tyrants in Saudi Arabia. 

This decision will reinforce Iran’s hardliners, who thrive on Western hostility and wilt when exposed to openness and generosity. It might even lead to a pointless new war.

Once again, whenever you know anything about the facts, the foreign policies of the Western powers are ridiculous and mad.