Look, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, MP, (Eton, Oxon) Of That Ilk and Running As Such is just never going to win the hearts and minds, much less the votes, of the fish and chips crowd. You know it, I know it, he hasn’t a bloody clue, which is where competent staff comes in.
While it appears increasingly likely that BoJo is going to declare his candidacy for Mayor of London (perhaps entranced, as are we all, by visions of blond, fluffy clouds of fur floating over black velvet robes) realistically he will have to work his uppers to the crust if he wants to rule the rank and file. His opponent is Ken Livingstone, a charismatic and iron-willed lefty in the Trudeau Fuck You vein known as Red Ken.
In fairness, it must be said that about the only person in the UK who’s offended more people than Boris is Red Ken himself. So if nothing else, this campaign will be on 24-hour gaffe alert on both sides.
Still, Boris can’t afford to coast on looks, charm, and the implicit opportunity of below-stairs patronage appointments at the Spectator. Or the Times.
Boris needs to reach out to Londonistan. He has to become The Man of the People, even if he only encounters those people in the form of a studio audience. We here at the ol’ raincoaster blog have long studied the phenomenon that is Bojo, and we, being somewhat leftist ourself(s?), feel that we can come up with a statement providing a new direction, a new vision, even a new Boris Johnson.
Al Kemal* is the People’s Choice for Mayor of London
From his humble beginnings as a Turko**-American*** immigrant from a broken home, Al’s life has been a series of struggles, a succession of successes. He is an inspiration to the entire Islamic community, and a leader for our globalized times.
Born in an American Stalinist medical facility**** to foreign parents, he spent his early years nomadically, drifting from country to country***** as his feckless father moved the family in search of lasting employment******. When Al eventually landed in the UK as a child of 11*******he had no more than the proverbial tenner in his pocket*******. An innovative and extraordinarily inclusive admissions program at one local school allowed young Al the kinds of educational advantages normally only enjoyed by native Britons of elevated standing, despite differences in background, ethnicity, and even religion.*********
Al made the most of those opportunities, eventually securing a place at Balliol, living out the dreams Thomas Hardy had written for him more than a hundred years before.********** While there, he became instrumental in the operation of the British-Arab University Association, and rose through sheer grim slogging to be the first Turko-American member of the Bullingdon Club. Additionally, he was the favoured candidate of the Social Democratic Party, clearly demonstrating his centrist, mainstream, populist leanings at an early age.***********
Al was active in social outreach programs, making friends among even the criminal classes.************
Although Al appeared to have overcome his past as the child of a broken home, the pattern reasserted itself. Married too young, Al put his first marriage behind him and eventually settled down with (and subsequently married) a nice Englishwoman from the showbusiness class, with whom he has had four children.*************
Al’s early forays into politics were humbling, to say the least.*************** Nonetheless, he came back to have a moderately successful career as a television presenter and in local politics, as well as gaining notoriety on the sports field*****************.
No stranger to disadvantage, exclusion and setbacks, Al Kemal is truly Everyman for the new London of the Twenty-First Century.
*Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s original family name was Kemal. His family calls him Al.
** Kemal is Turkish…his great-grandfather was Ali Kemal, an ill-fated Turkish journalist who became a government official and came to a sticky end. Obviously learning from the past is not a family trait. Ali Kemal was not, it should be noted, Catholic. Yay, Islamic outreach!
Boris Al was born in Manhattan.
**** In some godforsaken Yankee hospital: they’re all bloody HMOs nowadays. Poor bugger’s lucky he’s still alive.
***** Seriously, are we sure they aren’t Rom? First the UK, then a move to the States, then Belgium (Belgium, for chrissakes…how bloody desperate do you have to be to look for work in Belgium?), then the UK again. Can’t these people settle down and commit to one country? Is that too much to ask? Bloody gypsies!
****** See above. Two footnotes looked more impressive, and nobody reads this shit anyway.
******* To attend Eton. Must have been an equal-opportunity initiative or some kind of ethnic scholarship. Good work, Al!
******** I am estimating this, based on the fact that most young Etonians don’t keep cash in their pockets. They keep it in their manservant’s pockets.
********* He’s Catholic. I know, doesn’t look it eh? So that’s the Catholic vote sewn up.
********** Thomas Hardy is so going to fucking kill me for this.
*********** No proof exists that he actually ran for the SDP, but on the other hand no proof exists that he didn’t, either.
************ Darius Guppy, who also attempted unsuccessfully to involve Al in criminal activities. That’s our Al, never afraid to do social outreach.
************* Marina Wheeler, a lawyer. Handy, when you’ve got Al’s friends.
*************** Wales so totally kicked his ass.
********£5 actually, dontchakno?
This one in particular:
A divorced Catholic? So, he knows El Papa too?
Livingstone’s dead, d’ye hear? Dead.
Well my informed sources tell me it’s a no-go, which disappoints me greatly. Of course, I don’t live in London so what the hell do I care, eh?
The only meaningful alternative is playing Brutus to Cameron’s Julius Caesar, and I can’t see him doing that. I’m not sure the infrastructure is capable of sustaining an attack, and without the troops he simply can’t do it. And he certainly cant’ afford to fail if he tries.
Kudos! for this outstanding post.
Thanks! Glad you liked it. I was worried that some of the in-jokes would be a little obscure to North Americans, but all compliments will be and are gratefully and unquestioningly accepted.
A truly brilliant post! Excellent. Bojo’s gonna likey this methinks :-)
Looks like he’s in; do you think he’ll use this? We’ll see. Maybe I can get a job out of it…multiculturalism, reaching out to the Canucko-Brit community, etc, etc.
Great piece, raincoaster. I’m delighted to see that the left are backing Boris. Disaffected Liberals, and that’s millions of us, are with Bojo too.
Boris is, as you suggest, the quintessential poor boy dun good. He has always been proud of his multicultural and relatively deprived background.
Isn’t it Boris’s position as a gifted, multicultural ‘outsider’ that gives the cutting edge to his compelling insights into the problems of our society and of the metropolis? While he stands at the centre of the world’s greatest city, which took Boris to its heart, a part of Boris will always draw on broader multicultural values which give him his unique critical and creative/problem solving approach. Boris’s campaign should place more emphasis on these aspects of Boris’s character.
A significant proportion of Humanity’s greatest achievers have always been multicultural ‘outsiders’ – Churchill, Einstein, the prophet Muhammad, Freud, Marx, Attila, our royals, Moses, even the loathed Blair – the list is endless. It’s time Boris joined this list.
Only one point I disagree with in your excellent piece: “Ken Livingstone, a charismatic and iron-willed lefty”
I would strike out the ‘charismatic’. Ken has lost it big time. Ken’s over the hill, he’s become an arrogant, whining, miserable old geezer – and that’s the most unattractive and uncompelling combination of traits a power mad politician can have.
Londoners are sick of Ken’s power mad misery, they want to celebrate the life, love and freeom of our beautiful city again with Boris.
Well, they might as well do it here: his own website has been taken offline by his brilliant campaign team.
It is evident to me that his outreach and inclusiveness are real, in that he obviously does not discriminate in his own staff for reasons of race, creed, colour, intellect, or competence.
Vote for Boris on BBC News online’s Have Your Say
Got a link? I know there’s a Facebook I’m Backing Boris group: Guido Fawkes has the link at http://www.order-order.com
Boris is in the lead BBC’s Have Your Say! Go, Boris!
Can’t get onto Boris’s site – perhaps too many people are trying to access it? I can get into the campaign site, but the link from there to Boris’s regular site brings up a hybrid which will not allow messages to be posted.
A reference from Boris’s old boss on the Wolverhampton Express & Star, Tapestry – pinched from BBC’s Have Your Say:
“My old boss, who trained me as a journalist, also trained Boris when he was a junior on the Wolverhampton Express and Star. Every time anyone mentions Boris….he says very firmly: “Don’t be fooled by the dithering public persona. Underneath is a mind that’s ultra-sharp, as well as an immense intelligence. He also has no time for political correctness.” Sounds like an excellent candidate to me. I hope London makes the right choice.”
Great stuff, raincoaster.
As I’ve said elsewhere, I think it’s a bad move by BoJo. David Cameron must be delighted and relieved that the most visible and popular Tory MP is heading off into the inescapable swamps of Greater London, to be indefinitely sidelined.
Personally I think that Red Ken will eat him for breakfast, lunch, and supper. Which might be the very best thing that could happen to Boris, as it would at least show him to be a bold contender for high office. Having lost to Red Ken, he would then return to haunt David Cameron even more than before. The nightmare scenario, of course, is that he might actually win.
Fear not folks, just scroll down the announcement thingy and you’ll see a link to the old Boz blog. Where in fact you’ll see a ref to this post a nestling.
“He has always been proud of his multicultural and relatively deprived background.” well crikey if yer dad owning a fair chunk of Devon is a ‘relatively deprived background’ then I’ve been a peasant all my life and didn’t know it – people thought I wuz posh!
There’s a strict class system to peasantry ye know.
Have to agree with Idlex to some degree though, not on Red Ken eating him for breakfast – Boz could kill Kenny.
Are you telling me that if Boris had not gone to Eton and Oxford and then entered politics he’d be selling greasy vomit-worthy kebabs down the High Street? If the people of London are told that he’s bound to get elected. One thing they’d never risk is the opening of yet another Turkish kebab shop.
AHA! Brilliant idea for a fundraiser there, AP! Good work, comrade! Who would be able to resist purchasing a kebab from Candidate Al Kemal, eh? And he could put the kiddies to work as well, as they all do, and the missus too, she could run the till and shout at the loafers “Are you gonna buy anything? Are you BUYING?” She might like that.
Philipa: veddy interesting. I must go lord it over newmania now. And you, my friend, are indeed posh: who else wears little black dresses and pearls to just hang out in the office?
idlex, I quite frankly know so little of Red Ken and local London politics that I am calling this race strictly on grounds of popular appeal. On that level, Boris will wipe the floor with the man; on the other hand, is that how London elections are decided? newmania’s got a point about Boris’s candidacy galvanizing the lazy Tory supporters who haven’t bothered to vote, and Boris does have broad appeal, but if Ken can force it to the issues Boris will have the fight of his life.
Interesting thought about the scenario if he loses. I agree that Cameron is not sorry to see him in this race: Boris is the most ambitious, most recognizable Tory around, and also he’s strong, very strong, in just exactly the points where Cameron is weak. If Boris wins, he won’t have to get rid of Cameron in four years; the party will do it for him, and beg him to lead it. If he loses, he goes back to Henley with a vast public outcry for a bigger role for Boris…win/win, even if he loses.
Also: I wonder how long it’ll take the new Masters of the Cyberverse who are running his site to realize that the static splash page is SLAUGHTERING their googlejuice. And their Technorati ranking as well; it may never recover, from what engtech has said. He went through the same thing and went from a top 5000 blog to 5millionth overnight.
raincoaster, you really are quite creative. if islamic reform had your marketing skills it would accomplish a whole lot more.
Think I could get something like that from Boris? Sooner or later Harper’s got to call an election, and those kinda references might be worth something. The Canadian Liberal party is a very big tent.
Don’t know much about the Canuck Liberal Party, but when I was describing Tracey Emin’s tent embroidered with the names of her ex-lovers to an old friend in Santa Fe she said, “Wow, I’d need a marquee.” Is it anything like that?
If Al changed his name to Ali he could always run against Georgeous George in the East End and forget all about Henley.
I think the Canadian Liberal Party is an uneasy cross between a tent at Glastonbury and a marquee at the Bohemian Grove.
Al to Ali…Yippee for Ali…that could work.
Raincoaster, Red Ken is actually a considerable popular character in his own right – a bit along the lines of Gorgeous George Galloway. He’s a rebel, and got turfed out of the Labour party for it (although after he became mayor he was re-inducted). His whole political life has been centred around London. He used to be highly active in the GLC (Greater London Council) before the Conservatives under Thatcher abolished it. In some ways he IS London – or at least the Leftist London of the 1980s.
Boris is, by contrast, is a considerable popular national figure. I’ve no idea what support he commands in London. It is, quite possibly, rather less than than in the country at large. So this is a contest between a popular London politician and a popular national politician. My guess is that Ken’s experience and local popularity will defeat Boris’ inexperience and wider popularity. But I don’t think that losing to Ken will do Boris any harm in the long run.
Raincoaster, Red Ken is actually a considerable popular character in his own right – a bit along the lines of Gorgeous George Galloway. He’s a rebel, and got turfed out of the Labour party for it (although after he became mayor he was re-inducted). His whole political life has been centred around London.
He was a very popular figure in his own right, idlex, I agree, but all good things come to an end and Ken’s been chancing his luck for some time. Public transport and the roads in London are in the most horrendous state and a daily hell for Londoners.
There’s also the business of the Ken’s growing arrogance and the apparently racist remarks which upset a lot of people, not just the Jewish community.
Add to that the huge cost burden of Ken’s empire of civil servants and of his jaunts and grandiose ideas that he now has a role overseas too. All of that is recipe for discontent with his majesty Ken.
Look at the balance of comments on BBC’s Have Your Say. Given the BBC’s bias and that they’ve done their usual search and selection job and cut the debate off after putting a number of negative comments in the most recent comments section, they still could not later the fact that Boris is streets ahead in the comments and votes on these.
One of the most interesting aspects of HYS is the number of Londoners who say they’ll vote for Boris and the significant proportion of Londoners who say they feel it’s either time for a change or that they’ll vote for ‘anyone but Ken’.
Even Toynbee has the wind up. Her (£4000?) article in the Guardian resorts to the most absurd lies and distortions in a rather pathetic attempt to smear Boris – and she fails miserably. You can smell the fear in Toynbee’s nostrils. I’ve lost count of the number of times Toynbee says ‘if Boris wins this election’.
I think it’s looking very good for Boris.
I call the offensive remarks a draw in this case. I don’t think they will be a factor as long as Boris doesn’t say something about Kensington rubber fetishists or something. Which I don’t put past him.
Liberty: you read Polly Toynbee? WHY? She has no audience but the doctrinaire “Liberal media of London” who are, according to the WWF, an endangered species, hence all the shrillness. Toynbee, too, is not a factor in this election.
Traffic in London, from what I can gather, has always been horrible. Ten years ago the average traffic speed was three miles per hour. I walk faster than that. Mass transit IS an issue, and one that Boris has been unafraid to tackle. If he can come up with a good plan, or at least a plan that APPEARS to be good, he could play that against the daily reality of the commute and gain points. Traffic planning is not a simple process, and to solve the problems he would need a truly world-class expert helping him: does he have one? You can’t just make this shit up.
Ken, as I’ve said before, is not an international figure. He’s trying, but it’s not taking. I didn’t even know he’d been pestering Harper until somebody on the forum said he had. It didn’t make the papers here. Maybe Ken hopes to be a Brown-killer? If he loses to Boris he may want to go national.
As I said at Guido’s site:
Here’s one lefty that’s not taking Hitch’s bet, because she’s scrounging through her pockets for cash to put on Boris. I probably wouldn’t vote for him but if the swing vote in this election is that large and consists of the disenfranchised, it’ll probably come down to an emotional level campaign. Boris is a populist, posh as he may be. That will be enough to win; there are not enough doctrinaire leftys and/or grim masochists in the city to overcome mass appeal. Remember, though its in the underclass’s best interest to support socialism, they generally don’t. They’re generally blandly populist and somewhat right-wing.
Liberty, you may well be right. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to gauge Ken’s current popularity, and indeed since I’ve been to London. And as you say, all good things come to an end.
I thought it was rather telling, also, that Ken appeared before cameras to talk down Boris’ qualifications. That he did that says that he’s worried. Very worried.
But I still don’t want Boris to become Mayor of London. It looks to me like a political dead end street. After all, it has been for Ken.
By the way, how’s Beryl?
raincoaster, Melissa has suggested you post your comment about the splash page somewhere on Boris’ forum.
I shall indeed, thanks for the poke. Hijacking the URL like that is going to kill them on the internet. I really should charge them if they implement my suggestions.
I don’t think Ken can really be blamed for the state of public transport in Londinium … there was a court case if you recall to prevent him from making tube fares similar to other major European cities and prevent this hiving off of assets that Thatcherit Bliar was so into. Nor was his comment really anti-semetic, it’s just unfortunate that the reptile he compared to a concentration camp guard happened to be a son of Zion, had he not been it wouldn’t have attracted any attention.
I reckon Raincoaster has a PhD in Johnsonism
And she has a great sense of humour to boot – GO raincoaster!
Once I sober up I might help out with Steven’s wikipedia entry. T’wouldn’t be the first time I’d been creative consultant to an entry of that nature. Guido fears it won’t be helpful to the cause, but I’m not seeing the downside: if there’s anyone who can ride out chaos, it’s Boris Johnson!
Just how stupid do the Tories think Londoners are? Like they’re really going to vote for Boris over buses.
No time to reply to above questions at present as my leave period is over, I’m back at work and snowed under by a backlog of work, so this is just a quick post.
I popped into the bookmaker’s shop at lunchtime to put a bet on Boris for Mayor – and the bookie refused to take my bet! We don’t accept bets on politicians, the bookie said – yet that’s untrue, they accepted my bet on Cameron for PM last year. Hmmm….
Will reply to t and i later.
I was under the impression that Boris’s odds are about 8/1, so can’t undestand
“Will reply to t and i later.”
Presumably to cross them and dot them.
Liberty: you read Polly Toynbee? WHY? She has no audience but the doctrinaire “Liberal media of London” who are, according to the WWF, an endangered species, hence all the shrillness. Toynbee, too, is not a factor in this election
I detest Toynbee and stopped reading the Guardian in disgust at Toynbee’s column during her ‘put a peg on your nose and vote Labour’ campaign to get warmonger Blair re-elected in 2005. However I do miss the Guardian, so now read it a few times a week. Reading Pollyanna’s column is a case of knowing your enemy. She’s smarmed her way into Brown’s inner circle.
On a sunnier note, I’ve just bought myself a ‘Boris’ sweat shirt and should soon have a ‘Boris For Mayor’ sweat shirt too.
I read the Guardian all the time, but I never read Toynbee.
I think Guido Fawkes has info on how to place a bet for Boris. If I had any money, I’d put one down myself.
And Londoners are, of course, of average intelligence, which means that yes, they can be manipulated if you know what gets them stirred up. And it seems like the buses do.
I don’t think Ken can really be blamed for the state of public transport in Londinium … there was a court case if you recall to prevent him from making tube fares similar to other major European cities and prevent this hiving off of assets that Thatcherit Bliar was so into.
Of course he should be blamed, see the London website which characterises King newt as ‘talking trash’:
As the website rightly states:
“PROMOTING LONDON OR ‘EUROPE’ ??
His [KL’s] ‘EU Urban Conference’ (9.7.03) backed a ‘Declaration for an ambitious EU Regional policy’. He praises London’s soon-to-go ‘EU funding’ of £90m a year, but never compares it to London’s estimated £1bn a year share of payments to the EU. As Livingstone has written for The Londoner (Nov 2003) and appeared on television, whingeing about how much the capital subsidises other parts of the UK through taxes, this is a bit of a double standard).
London House, the GLA office in Brussels costs Londoners over £500,000 a year. He defends it as “promoting London in Europe”, but can’t explain why he didn’t use the existing British Embassies (to promote exports, e.g.) when asked at his public questions session (Brent Town Hall, 14.10.03).
The office is regularly used to trumpet GLA policies (such as congestion charging, ‘cultural strategy’ & ‘waste management’) to Europe. It also supports ‘Committee of the Regions’ Open Days. (Livingstone had said that he’d consider being nominated for the EU Committee of Regions as “It fits in with my instincts towards a federal Europe”. (LGIB press release, 18.10.00)).
As part of London’s ‘international policy’, his proposal for a common EU asylum policy urged that the return of illegal immigrants (failed asylum seekers) be only ‘voluntary’. (Londonline Europe, Summer 2003)
The propaganda continues on his GLA website, (‘London Issues’, http://www.london.gov.uk). “London can & will contribute much to the development of Europe. London’s European Office will be the key mechanism to achieving this goal”.
***In April 2003, Londoners felt a 29% increase in their council tax levy paid to the GLA. In October 2002, an Audit Commission inspection found less GLA commitment to basics like value for money for Londoners or even paying its suppliers on time!***
His glossy bulletins hype the EU – for instance Londonline Europe, which in Spring 2004 describes the EU as:
“the most democratically accountable international institution in the world”. (Even though its key institutions are unelected and can over-rule democratically-elected governments. Furthermore auditors have rejected its leaky accounts year after year).
On the proposed EU Constitution, he adds:”Much of what it contains so far should be welcomed by Londoners”. (NB The draft explicitly gives the EU powers to take away people’s rights). Although it has been criticised for its complexity and lack of clarity, Livingstone also claims it will make the EU easier to understand!”
Is King newt ultimately after a lucrative gravy train job with the EU?
If Ken and his massive ego stopped chucking billions of Londoners’ money at his civil service empire and his Mickey Mouse projects primarily devised to ease Ken’s route up the corrupt EU’s greasy pole, there’d be no need to squeeze so much council tax out of Londoners and there would be more funds in London to resolve some of London’s problems .
Also, Ken volunteered to rejoin nulabour under Thatcherite Blair, didn’t he? So please, no more bullsh*t about Blair hiving off London’s assets (and sending council tax extorted from Londoners up to Scotland etc) against Ken’s will.
By rejoining nulabour and remaining in nulabour while Blair was extorting Londoners’ money, Ken Livingstone effectively colluded with Blair to extort money from Londoners by standing by as London’s Mayor and allowing it to happen..
Lib: my comments were only intended to refer to the tube.
I thought it was rather telling, also, that Ken appeared before cameras to talk down Boris’ qualifications. That he did that says that he’s worried. Very worried…
By the way, how’s Beryl?
You’re right, idlex, Ken’s worried alright, he thought he had a shoo in, now he has to fight for his empire.
Re: Beryl – you’ve read my posting that I’m really Flo’ using another blog name to shake off a pesky troll. I’ve been signing myself as Flo’ again on the site where the troll lurks to see what the response would be. So far, so good, no trolling. So I might begin using my Flo’ blog name again – or perhaps I’ll become Liberty-Flo’ as I’ve become attached to the name Liberty now.
The shutters were down on Beryl’s cafe when I returned to work today, some sort of refit is going on inside – so no Beryl or morning toast today.
Wow, those are some very smart vote-winners. Sure, I can see that he’s obviously willing to fuck over the entire country to get votes, but he’s smarter and meaner than I thought.
Appealing to refugee applicants and the immigrant community: guaranteed winner, moreso over time.
A lefty complaining about the taxes his constituents pay? Genius, if he can pull it off.
Acting like the ruler of an independent city-state, and encouraging his constituents to think of themselves as “city-staters”? Also a vote-winner.
Ah, thanks for the update. The Beryl thing confused me.
There IS an Al Kemal in the UK: he’s on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/1/709/265
you’ve read my posting that I’m really Flo’ using another blog name to shake off a pesky troll. Liberty ‘Flo.
Yes, I read it, but didn’t fully understand.
No essay from Boris today, I see. And Melissa has said somewhere that she’s no longer running the site. If boris-johnson is under new management, I’m wondering if that’s the end of Boris’ blog?
Yes, I think you may be right, which is a damn shame. They should keep the regulars happy, because we’re all great PR for Boris, even me. This article is the only Boris Johnson article on Reddit, which is a social bookmarking site with several million media-savvy readers.
I asked Melissa for the email of the people running the site now… but she hasn’t given it to me yet. Rest assured when I get my hands on it I will be passing it around.
Also: does anyone else think it’s really cheezy for that PR firm to put their name on the splash page so prominently? And the contacts should really have borisformayor.com or whatever email addresses, not their firm’s emails. It just looks really self-serving, and good PR is all about making the CLIENT look good.
Also: does anyone else think it’s really cheezy for that PR firm to put their name on the splash page so prominently?
Yes. Me. I noticed that too. And I thought: remind me not to hire these people when I run for mayor of London.
I suspect that the problem is that these people are probably perfectly good with television and newspapers, but clueless about the internet, blogs, etc. Boris-johnson.com is actually a major asset for Boris, providing him with an international forum. Now these PR people have come along and stuck a nasty poster on top of it, a bit like pasting a garish dayglo VISIT SWINGING LONDON over Constable’s Haywain.
These people really don’t get the internet. They can’t see that the internet was one of the prime causes of the downfall of Blair, when it was revealed that the ‘dodgy dossier’ was lifted from an internet thesis written 10 years earlier, and when the bullying emails from Number 10 to British intelligence to produce the second dossier became available for everyone and everybody to read. They really seem to think that they only need to control the mainstream news media, and they can get away from anything. They don’t know that there are people like me around who get 90% of what they know off the internet, largely skipping the mainstream media. They’re living in the past. They’re living in a lost world.
And when these people do get to briefly wake up and learn that these darn internets exert influence, they tend to just get angry, and demand to know why anyone should listen to somebody who’s writing stuff off their kitchen table, rather than in the plush offices of the New York Times. Which is really a bit like asking why people don’t listen the London Philharmonic Orchestra, but instead a bunch of scruffs from Liverpool called the Beatles, who can’t sing, and can’t play guitar.
Actually, I don’t think even Boris gets it. He treats his blog much like it was a poor cousin of the Telegraph or the Spectator, just another vehicle for disseminating his views. Yet I’ll bet that more people around the world read Boris’ blog than read the Telegraph or the Spectator. And then he is disconcerted when people reply immediately to him on his blog, and rip lumps off what he says. I bet that doesn’t happen with the Telegraph or the Spectator, as the few letters wend their way slowly back to him. I think Boris has been lucky to have – or to have had – a few internet-savvy friends, who persuaded him to give it a spin – with great success.
The internet is really the greatest thing since Gutenberg. Yet it’s very strange that it seems to be people who work in television and newspapers and magazines who seem to be those most entirely unable to comprehend it. But then, it was probably true back in Gutenberg’s day, as monkish scribes jeered at the clumsy, inelegant typeface, and the rantings therein of complete nobodies like Martin Luther, and smirked: “This’ll never catch on.”
Melissa told me that ten thousand people a day read boris-johnson.com, and quite obviously from the fact that you and I are having this conversation, it has a global reach that neither the Torygraph nor the Speccie have. It is an enormous plus since he wants to have an international profile.
I wonder how much information about the blog Boris actually gets. Vicus said that Boris has replied at least a couple of times, and I vaguely recall seeing it once and doubting it was Boris, though apparently it was. I understand the reluctance to get hands-on with it, because that can very often be a time sink and bring out the worst in a person; we’ve all seen bloggers who get screechy and defensive in the back-and-forth. The “Boris is above all that” thing at least protects him against shooting himself in the foot with his own comments, which of course he does often enough anyway.
I can’t recall if the Telegraph allows comments…I know I tore a strip off his sister once, but I think it was in the Times.
The mainstream media people are perfectly capable of understanding the internet, but they are extremely defensive about it and view it as the enemy. In cases like the New York Times, where they are told they MUST blog, organizations rarely reduce the workload or pay extra for, effectively, doubling the work.
But the media will be the losers in this, the sooner the better. Matt Drudge has been a force in American politics since before Lewinsky. Guido has yet to actually change the world, but that’s his ambition for sure. And I wouldn’t put it past him.
Random thought here:
Boris should have a chat. He should have a chatroom on the campaign site that’s monitored and moderated 24/7 because NOTHING gets people’s loyalty like a chat room. I’m not kidding. And once a month or so Boris sits down and does a twenty minute chat. That’s a pretty radical suggestion, but what the hell. This is going to be a radical campaign.
Okay, so that is totally crazy. The SCHEDULED chat isn’t, though. It’s brilliant if I do say so myself. Red Ken’s got nothing to put up against that.
PS: love the way Boris ignored the PR’s red marker “Boris will stop HERE” and of course he didn’t. Get used to it, girl.
In related news, here’s an interesting article on using the internet WELL for PR, in the middle of a crisis:
and, check it out: Clinton is blogging! I mean actually blogging, not just posting old stuff.
Vicus said that Boris has replied at least a couple of times, and I vaguely recall seeing it once and doubting it was Boris, though apparently it was.
Melissa said a year or two back that Boris read the comments. And I’ve seen maybe a half dozen posts by ‘Boris Johnson’, usually one liners, thanking people for suggestions, etc. But I’ve never seen him getting into the thick of it. He’s essentially and author and essayist who’s good at eloquently pushing out 2000 words on demand about any subject under the sun, but doesn’t know how to write 20 – 100 words in rapid response to some comment. That’s a different skill.
The mainstream media people are perfectly capable of understanding the internet, but they are extremely defensive about it and view it as the enemy.
Well, as I see it, the MSM are generally always in transmit mode, with only a residual token receive mode. A newspaper is an idea-transmission device, with a only a few selected letters printed along with it.. A book is also a transmission device. The threat of the internet is that it is essentially a two-way transmission medium that threatens the MSM monopoly on defining ‘the message’, because the internet allows other people to have voices.
I can’t see what’s to stop there being an internet ‘newspaper’, whose members are its reporters and investigative journalists, mostly unpaid.. Perhaps this has already happened. Such a newspaper would completely subvert the MSM’s dwindling stranglehold on ‘news’.
There are plenty, but the fact is that the main stream itself wants nothing to do with them. Look at my piece on that woman whose car blew up, the day before the car bombs were discovered in London…I tried to spread that around and got NOWHERE with it. I actually got comments on Reddit and Digg and other sites saying that, because it wasn’t covered by the mainstream news, it wasn’t a story. Yesterday I posted a story to Reddit about a Filipino radio report that a girl had killed herself over fake Harry Potter leaks…and was asked point-blank for mainstream media references. I posted a story on the Newfie iceberg with a skeleton in it, and referenced the original photos on a forum newsboard: it was voted down in favour of the much skimpier MSNBC coverage.
The main stream is mainstream. Blogs, including Drudge, Guido, Kos and others, are for the thought leaders.
And Boris is, of course, perfectly capable of the riposte, but he naturally prefers to get paid for it, whether on tv or in an after-dinner speech. Otherwise yeah, he’s mainstream media boy.
And now the forum’s down.
And now back up.
The main stream is mainstream.
I guess that it depends whether people trust the MSM or not. In my own case, that trust has largely gone. And it was the internet that did for it. There was a time, three or so years ago, when I was very interested in Iraq and WMDs and stuff, and was reading about as much online about it all as I was seeing on TV and in newspapers. One thing I noticed was that when the evening news came on, I knew most of it already, but I used to wonder why it was that they’d run with those particular stories, and not other ones that were floating around on the internet. Or why they’d sometimes do things like pull pretty apocryphal stories off the internet, and print those. I came to realise that the internet was pretty much always ahead of the MSM, and that most probably the MSM were simply trawling the internet for stories, just like me, and broadcasting or printing the ones that fitted their editorial line. I began to wonder what the point of reading newspapers was, if I was ahead of them to the stories, and could follow up the ones that interested me, rather than the ones that interested them.
So I think that the relation of the MSM to the internet is getting to be a bit parasitical. The MSM go to the internet for many of their stories, and then the publish them like they were the first to break the story, not crediting their internet sources. Which is cheating.
Personally, I think we’re in a period of sweeping media change. I think that the days of the old-style one-way-broadcast media are numbered. I think it’s going to get more and more difficult for them to control the news. And I think all the innovations are going to come from the internet. In the 10+ years I’ve been using it, it’s astonished me dozens of times.
But change isn’t going to happen overnight.
I agree completely, but what’s disheartening although not surprising is the refusal of the people to recognize stories as true unless they’ve been validated by the media machine. People prefer to delegate their critical thinking to for-profit corporations rather than take on the burden of making their own judgement calls, by and large. I do not know if that will ever change. Actually, given the uptake in blogging, I suppose it will once more people have a vested interest in the web than in the mainstream outlets. It only takes getting ripped off or ignored once, and it’ll happen to everyone sooner or later.
Forum is up intermittently. I get the error message about 50% of the time now, and messages that were there before are not there now. There’s a thread missing, too. Hopefully it’s just an archived copy and things will settle down, but it’s strange. I’m also getting a timeout error trying to access Guido’s site, and Iain’s is completely blank except the header and sidebar.
Yesterday WordPress has some serious bandwidth issues, as two of the largest bandwidth providers in the US had major problems. I’m wondering if I’m getting squeezed through their pipeline on my way overseas, or if something is hitting the UK that his us yesterday. Boris’ site, Order-Order.com, and Iain’s blogspot site are all hosted in different places.
Still can’t use the forum. The front page appears, but as soon as I click on a discussion I get the template just fine (ie the CSS is working) but no content, just a blank space under the header and between the sidebars. The little Discussion/Account/Etc tabs are displayed just fine, but nothing else, only white space. And one thread is definitely gone, one that asked if the LibDems could be persuaded to support Boris instead of fielding their own candidate.
I’ll clear my cache and check again when I wake up.
I note that the backboris.com site is looking a LOT better (very nice design, and the Paypal layout is smart), although they’d do far better to have that as a static page and additional pages for each article with links in the sidebar or something, rather than Word or PDF downloads. Mo’ links, mo’ betta, and every page can have links to every other page. Duh.
And oh, god, BAD TIME to put up the BORIS FOR TONY LIT thing. Bury that fucker ASAP! Jeezus.
They changed the email and hit their own behind links, smart.
Still can’t use the forum. The front page appears, but as soon as I click on a discussion I get the template just fine (ie the CSS is working) but no content, just a blank space under the header and between the sidebars. The little Discussion/Account/Etc tabs are displayed just fine, but nothing else
Same here. It shows the list of forums, but if you click on one, no posts appear. Since I’m in the UK, it can’t be a matter of being squeezed through the overseas pipeline. It has to be something else.
I have wibbler’s email address, so may ask him. Although if Melissa is no longer overseeing the site, maybe wibbler isn’t either….:-(
It’s back up working again now. But some of the latest posts seem to have gone missing.
I’ll give it a shot then, thanks for the heads-up. I expect they had to restore from a backup.
Server flooded out. I’m looking for alternatives in the UK…
Boris Johnson completely dead now, both blog and forums. Is that what you meant by ‘server flooded out’?
Yep. The server is literally flooded out, with all the rain. I’m trying to find them an alternative server in the UK, but most of my server-owning contacts are in Canada or the US. If you know anyone who can handle 20k hits a day on a mostly text site, tell them to get in touch with Melissa
The server is literally flooded out, with all the rain.
That seems to be quite literally true. The wibbler told me:
essentially what happened was that the site was moved to more stable servers – which were 500 metres from the River Severn! Consequently, the communications to the server have been dodgy and waterlogged for the last few days, as you can imagine.
The river Severn burst its banks over the weekend. Wibbler said it was all OK now. And, indeed, so it seems to be!
Good, I had a few people look around for stable servers in arid spots in the UK, but there don’t seem to be any at the moment.
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