Zingers Against Boris Johnson
Belittling Boris: A Users Guide by Richard Heller
I have appointed myself Insulter-General against Boris Johnson.
There is still enough time to persuade more British voters that he is the most dishonest and flaky Prime Minister who has ever sought re-election and that it would be a catastrophe if he achieved this with a working majority.
It would be so much easier to do this without Jeremy Corbyn on offer as the alternative, but we must all do what we can, and I am therefore offering this personal list of zingers to anyone, anywhere seeking to belittle Boris Johnson.
Most carry a core message:
Boris Johnson has the lowest personal standards of any Prime Minister. He does not understand – let alone, respect – the standards which voters follow in their lives.
Having delivered the core message one can then present the corollary:
It is dangerous for the country to give this man a Parliament full of Tory stooges and crawlers where he will have total power to do everything Dominic Cummings and Donald Trump tell him to do. (Wait for listeners to appreciate the surprise twist and the double-whammy: BJ is a bully and a puppet.)
Now one can elaborate on the core message. Actual anti-Johnson candidates might say:
Every day in my campaign I meet people who are making some sort of sacrifice to make life better for others – usually their loved ones but sometimes for people they do not even know, by commitment to a good cause. Some of them do this in desperate circumstances. I’ve met lots of parents and carers who have given up all hope of better things for themselves to give them to their children. I’d like to bring Boris Johnson here to meet them and see if he dares look them in the face. I’d like him to answer: when did you ever make any kind of personal sacrifice, and was it more than a repeat visit to the dessert trolley?
We all know the expression Me Time. That period – it may not be more than five minutes – when we’re just not available to anyone else, our best friend, our partners, even our children because we want to do something for ourselves. For Boris Johnson every second is Me Time. How can I use it for Me?
Boris Johnson’s amazing career has never been hampered by honesty or principle.
I really owe this to Huey Long, populist American leader in the 1930s, who said: “The time has come for all good men to rise above principle.”
In family settings: For most parents and carers, the first lesson they try to teach children is taking responsibility when they do something silly or wrong. Boris Johnson never meets that standard. He has never taken responsibility for anything he has written or said or done, certainly not for lying. If he is caught out in one lie he simply tells another one. He even lies when he is correcting his lies.
Or: For Boris Johnson, the truth is an unimportant, dimly-remembered acquaintance at a reception. “I’m sure we’ve met somewhere before.”
You can’t believe anything from Boris Johnson without independent proof. If he says “Nice day, today” look out of the window.
The next is a bit erudite but it can work if the audience is kept teased and in suspense until the resolution:
There are sub-atomic particles which last less than one yoctosecond (a septillionth or ten to the minus 24). [A beat. Look around the setting.] But that is a longer life than any statement by Boris Johnson.
Now on Brexit, a formula which should appeal to Remainers and Leavers alike, and the huge swathe of voters who are bored rigid by the whole subject:
Boris Johnson’s biggest lie is his biggest promise – to get Brexit done. Of course he is not going to get Brexit done. The most he can do with a Parliamentary majority is to pass his Withdrawal Bill – the one he cribbed from Theresa May. All that does is establish a timetable for hammering out the terms of our messy divorce from the EU. All the big questions – ones that are vital to the jobs and well-being of everyone in our country – are totally unsettled, and you’ll be hearing about them and Brexit non-stop next year if he wins. How are we going to trade not just with the rest of the EU but with more than forty other countries? Boris Johnson thinks we can reach trade agreements with them all within a year. If he believes that it proves again that he is a lazy twerp with a bit of Latin and Greek. [A good general description which could be used elsewhere]. The future of British farming and fisheries. Regulations for dozens of industries, including financial services. All things at risk in Boris’s Brexit Not Done.
The next comparison will enlist the millions of voters who have suffered from bad builders. You decide to remodel your home in a big way. A builder offers to do the job. You ask if he has done major jobs like this before. He tells you No but makes a promise to finish it some time next year. He then asks you to pay his whole bill upfront. Would you pay it? That’s what Bodger Boris wants. [Bodger Boris is another good all-purpose insult.] If Boris Johnson offered to work in my house, I’d send out for Laurel and Hardy.
A variant on the last: Boris Johnson says he’s got Brexit “oven-ready”. If Boris Johnson offered to cook me an oven-ready meal, I’d throw myself on the nearest mousetrap and eat the cheese.
Now for some general abuse. The next is not original but I think it would have much resonance. Boris Johnson is a tourist in his own country. To him, the British people are just part of the sights. Or backdrop and extras in the endless movie of which he is the author, director, and star.
A slight variant: To Boris Johnson, Britain’s history is a long parade with himself taking the salute.
For use in any run-down High Street: Here we are in High Street Boris, part of Boarded-Up Britain.
Highlight Tory donors and say that if re-elected Boris will be Britain’s first pre-paid Prime Minister.
When Boris bottles out of anything I’ve seen more backbone in a jellybaby. Or More yellow than his hair. More yellow even than Donald Trump’s hair.
On his fakery: Everything about Boris Johnson is phoney. It takes him hours to look so untidy. His suits are hand-rumpled by a leading Savile Row tailor.
The next is now slightly nostalgic but should still hold up:
No has expected so much from the British people for thinking himself an entertainer: Boris Johnson is the David Brent of British politics. NOTE: in addition to his other ghastly qualities, D Brent was notably incompetent.
And finally a switch on Winston Churchill (Johnson’s supposed hero) and his line about Clem Attlee: Boris Johnson is a very conceited person with a great deal to be modest about.
Ends Richard Heller was chief of staff to two masters of political invective, Denis Healey and Gerald Kaufman. He has also been educated by the caustic responses to five novels and a dozen or so screenplays. His latest book, White On Green, celebrating the drama of Pakistan cricket, was written with Peter Oborne, creator and editor of the website calling out Boris Johnson’s false statements https://boris-johnson-lies.com/