Tony Blair’s particular genius was in disrupting the political expectations of the time. It’s often said he was the best Conservative leader the Labour party ever had. He was the public schoolboy who perfected his estuary accent. But the new liberal Tories have in some ways tipped that recipe on it’s head. Old Etonians, enjoying being old Etonians in public. John Lloyd reckons that a programme exposing the excesses of David Cameron, Boris Johnson et al at Oxford’s corral for posh hooligans, the Bullingdon Club. John Lloyd thinks Tory concerns are ill placed:
We cannot hope to have a British Berlusconi. But our last prime minister had an instinct for show business and future ones may take it further for close behind Mr Cameron treads a master entertainer. Mr Johnson is much cleverer than his dishevelled appearance and “What ho, Jeeves!” humour make him appear. He also has the comic’s ability to hide it, and to appeal to our love of a laugh. Labour’s ablest successors to the prime minister David Miliband, foreign secretary, and James Purnell, the former work and pensions secretary are policy wonks, disciplined, cerebral and publicly serious, not fun.
Mr Berlusconi spent his early manhood crooning on cruise ships. A misspent youth? Per niente! He may, even then, before making his fortune and crafting his political career, have grasped something most did not: that the world he would make his own was not just the Republic of Italy, but also the Republic of Entertainment. That republic has since expanded its borders to take in a great many states and pose their politicians the question: can you dance, sing, tell and take a joke? No? Thank you, we’ll let you know. Next!
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty