Daily Mail splash
Can any politician survive such scrutiny? Hard to complain when the dastardly deed is almost live on camera like Mark Field’s collaring of the Greenpeace protestor –
And what about Boris’s row with his girlfriend, loud enough to be recorded through the wall? Will either politician survive the twitter storm? There’s simply no way of knowing. In this supposedly more tolerant age the tumbrils roll for those whom we take against and are spared from those we tolerate. Principles are applied subjectively or at any rate selectively. The more Trump outrages opinion the more he consolidates his core. Boris has led a charmed life so far. We’re told his “peccadillos are factored in.” But this time?
Unlike Trump Boris doesn’t do brazen defiance, he stonewalls. Oh God yes ! What will Trump tweet about his mate Boris? I bet Boris is begging him to stay shtum.
Watch the vox pops to gauge Tory grassroots reaction. The media will balance them of course but prevarication or the false notes of stridency will be telling. Polling the Tory electorate will be unreliable and may even be boycotted for intruding on private grief – the hustings voters’ grief I mean, certainly not Boris’s .
The front runner tried to shrug off the storm caused when it emerged police were called to the south London flat he shares with his 31-year Carrie Symonds in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Speaking at a hustings in Birmingham, Mr Johnson did not mention the issue in his opening comments, insisting: ‘We need to get Brexit done… and I am the right man.’
And when challenged by broadcaster Iain Dale on stage, he replied: ‘I don’t think people want to hear about that kind of thing.’
Mr Johnson admitted the public was ‘entitled to know about my determination and character’. But he added: ‘Let me tell you that when I make a promise in politics about what I want to do I keep that promise.’
The dead bat response drew cheers from the audience – who also started booing when Dale tried to push further.
Having finished his speech, is now speaking to Iain Dale who was chairing the hustings – Dale has asked him about the domestic row and challenged the candidate to answer a question about the police being called to his home.
Dale says: “If the police are called to your home it’s everybody’s business.”
“That’s a fair point,” says Johnson. But he fails to address the matter directly.
“Just answer it – it’s a very simple question” Dale said.
Responding to the boos from the audience, the host said: “When he answers this question I will move on.”
Refusing to answer questions about police being called to his flat, he said: “I don’t think they want to hear about that kind of thing.
I think what they want to hear is what my plans are for the government and for the country. I’m under the sad obligation of wanting to get my message across.”People are entitled to ask about me, my character and my determination and what I want do for the country… Look at my determination to deliver for people who voted for me. When I say I will deliver, I deliver by X+10.”
Verdict from Adam Boulton Sky News
Johnson master class I’m not giving a specific answer to any question, But keeps it up beat and many @Conservatives want to believe. Some tough questions. Lukewarm applause and partial standing ovation from audience at end.
Spectator editor Fraser Nelson puts up a snow storm to defend Boris in its Coffee House website
“A neighbour records a domestic row through the wall of their flat, takes the recording to a newspaper which then publishes details of the conversation. I wonder what The Guardian would have made of that in 2011 when it was on its crusade against press intrusion which led to the Leveson Inquiry – especially had the newspaper been a red-top.
Eight years ago, it was hacking into the messages on mobile phones which caused the controversy – a practice which led to criminal trials and a comprehensive, judge-led inquiry into the ethics of the press. Is it really any less offensive to record a conversation through the walls of a private flat – effectively bugging the property – and then publishing the details even when police have investigated the incident being recorded and decided no crime has taken place?
It seems that The Guardian’s moral high ground is distinctly undulating, formed of lofty peaks when it wants to have a crack at conservative-minded newspapers and deep chasms when it spies an opportunity to report the goings-on in the private life of a frontrunner in the Conservative leadership campaign.
You can argue that the character of the man who seems likely to be the country’s next prime minister is a matter of extreme public interest, which it is. And if police are called to an address, for any reason, domestic incident or other, then it is perfectly proper to report that. But police replied to The Guardian’s enquiries that they had visited the property and concluded nothing was amiss, both parties involved in the alleged altercation were fine. So why, after that, the need to report the contents of a private conversation which led to the police being called to this non-event – recorded through the walls of a private home? In a half-justification for publishing the conversation, The Guardian claims that the neighbour recorded the conversation out of concern for Carrie Symonds, Boris Johnson’s girlfriend. But if the neighbour genuinely thought the recording might be necessary for some kind of court case, why run off to The Guardian with it? It is hard to escape the conclusion that the decision to report the contents of the conversation was purely political, done in the hope of damaging Johnson’s campaign to be Conservative leader.
I don’t know where Guardian editor Katherine Viner lives, but I presume she would have no objection to a reporter recording conversations through the walls of her home and printing what he hears. Who knows, we might even find out how Viner plans to respond to the complaint about the reporting of the Boris altercation, which will certainly be going to the press regulator, IPSO”.
Earlier in Coffee House James Kirkup ex dep ed of the stable mate Sunday Telegraph has a different angle
“It’s not hard to work out the ‘lines to take’ that are being handed out from Boris Johnson’s team to his surrogates in politics and the media after the police were called to the flat he’s been living in.
‘It’s a private matter. It’s an invasion of privacy. The neighbour who taped the incident, called the cops and tipped The Guardian (yes, The Guardian) clearly has an agenda. This is the same sort of smear they’ve tried against poor old Mark Field. All couples have rows. It was just a domestic. Besides, women commit at least as much domestic violence as men.’
I won’t bother to record here my contempt for people who downplay the importance of domestic violence because it suits their politics or agenda, beyond saying this: the ‘it’s just a domestic’ argument helps get women killed. Are you really comfortable supporting that in order to further the interests of your candidate or your career?
Those who defend Boris Johnson today are taking a huge risk, because this story is far from over. It might never be over, in fact, because of that recording…. And let’s imagine Johnson still wins the premiership and takes office – then the tape goes public. What then? A prime minister can be destroyed just as much as a candidate can.
The bottom line is that this story cannot be shrugged off as a private matter or another confected skirmish in the culture war. It is and will remain a real threat to Boris Johnson unless two conditions are met. First, that recording is made public. Second, it establishes he is blameless.
And until those conditions are met, people in politics and the media and the wider public should think long and hard before putting their trust and confidence in Boris Johnson.”
The Guardian has amplified its original exclusive with interviews with the tip-off man who made the recording and other neighbours
After hearing a row involving smashing and screaming in the early hours of Friday morning, the individual says they discussed how to respond with their partner, out of concern for the safety of those involved.
“The very last thing I’d heard was a loud bang and screaming. First I knocked on their door to make sure everyone was OK,” they told the Guardian on Saturday.
“There was no response at all, I couldn’t hear anything. I knocked three times. Then I went back, discussed further that there was no response and we decided to call the police.”
The neighbour, who was waiting up late for a takeaway delivery, described loud shouting that could be heard throughout the vicinity, an account backed up by other residents in the area.
Another neighbour, a nursery teacher who lives with her husband and four-year-old son in the top flat next door, told the Times that she could hear “shouting and screaming”.
Fatimah, 32, said: “It was really loud, loud enough to make me turn down the TV and see what was going on. I could hear shouting and screaming from a lady, she sounded really angry. There was a man’s voice too, but he was much calmer and he was telling her to calm down but she was still chucking things about,” she told the Times.
“It went on for about 10 minutes. I’ve never heard anything like it. I was considering calling the police but then a [police] van and car came.”
The neighbour who called the police said: “I’d heard the screaming and shouting that sounded like it was from the street before I went to get my food. It became clear as I returned that it was coming from inside.”
They said that they began recording “purely out of instinct”.
“I had my phone on me because I’d gone to pick up a Deliveroo so I was on the phone to the Deliveroo driver. If I saw someone who I thought was in danger on the street I would start filming while seeking help. I was inside my own flat hearing shouting, screaming and banging so I pressed record.”
“It felt like if there was something dangerous happening that having a recording of it would be important as evidence. The screaming maxed out the volume of the microphone on my phone through two doors, which is why we became concerned.”
“We called the police and they called back to say thank you for everything that you’d done and luckily no one was hurt.”
“The first shouting could be heard from my own living room. I have never heard any other noise in the building, other than the front door opening and closing. People upstairs and on the street could hear it.”
They also said they had no involvement with low-key protests about Johnson’s presence from other local residents, despite claims online that neighbours had been hostile.
“I have not put anything up. I saw that a poster had been put on his car and obviously saw the same posters across the street. People locally know that Boris Johnson has been there but I have not made any protest about Boris Johnson being a neighbour.”
They said they hoped anyone would call the police if they failed to receive a response from a neighbour after hearing such an altercation.
“I am not a member of a political party. I’m frustrated politically by the last few years across the board but this was nothing to do with politics, I would hope that anybody that I know – friends, neighbours – would have their back if they heard something that sounded scary and frightening,” they said.
“I would like to think that we have a duty to look after and look out for neighbours.
“I am glad that I recorded everything of the event. I’m glad that the police were satisfied that nothing happened. They said ‘there’s been a row’ but nobody was hurt.”
BJ: How much longer have we got Iain? ID: less than 10 mins. BJ: superb ID: Are you bored. I can liven it up BJ: Some hostile bowling Iain…. *In which Johnson tells party members he can’t wait to stop taking their questions
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London