Tomorrow the outcome of the Conservative Party Leadership contest will be announced and either this man, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson or Jeremy Hunt will become the new leader of the Conservative Party but more importantly, the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. If Boris wins he gets his hands on more power, but could the reins be handed to a narcissist? Let’s place him under the TudorScope and find out….
Johnson was born to British parents, Stanley and Charlotte, on 19 June 1964 in Manhattan’s Upper East Side in New York City. His birth was registered with both the U.S authorities and the city’s British Consulate, thereby granting him both American and British citizenship.
Johnson’s maternal grandfather was the lawyer Sir James Fawcett. Johnson’s paternal great-grandfather was Circassian-Turkish journalist, who was a secular Muslim; his father’s other ancestry includes English and French, including descent from King George II of Great Britain. Johnson’s mother was Charlotte Fawcett; an artist from a family of liberal intellectuals, she had married Stanley in 1963, prior to their move to the U.S. She is the granddaughter of Elias Avery Lowe, a palaeographer, who was a Russian Jewish immigrant to the U.S., and Helen Tracy Lowe-Porter, a translator of Thomas Mann. Johnson’s maternal great-grandfather was a Lithuanian Jew and Orthodox Jewish rabbi.
Johnson’s parents lived opposite the Chelsea Hotel, although in September 1964 they returned to Britain so that Charlotte could study at the University of Oxford. She lived with her son in Summertown, Oxford, and gave birth to a daughter, Rachel, in 1965. In July 1965, the family moved to Crouch End in North London; in February 1966, they relocated to Washington D.C., where Stanley had gained employment with the World Bank. A third child, Leo, was born in September 1967. Stanley then gained employment with a policy panel on population control, in June moving the family to Norwalk, Connecticut.
In 1969, the family settled into Stanley’s family farm at Nethercote, in the west of England. There, Johnson gained his first experiences with fox hunting. Stanley was regularly absent from Nethercote, leaving Johnson to be raised largely by his mother and au pairs.
He and his siblings were encouraged to engage in high-brow activities from a young age,with high achievement being greatly valued; Johnson’s earliest recorded ambition was to be “world king”. Having few or no friends other than their siblings, the children became very close.
In late 1969 the family relocated to Maida Vale, West London, where Stanley began post-doctoral research at the London School of Economics. In 1970, Charlotte and the children briefly returned to Nethercote, where Johnson was schooled at the Winsford Village School, before returning to London to settle in Primrose Hill, there being educated at Primrose Hill Primary School. In late 1971 another son, Joseph, was born to the family.
After Stanley secured employment at the European Commission, he moved his family in April 1973 to Uccle, Brussels, where Johnson became fluent in French. Charlotte had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalised with clinical depression, and Johnson and his siblings were sent to Ashdown House preparatory boarding school in East Sussex in 1975.There he developed a love of rugby and excelled at Ancient Greek and Latin; he was appalled at the teachers’ use of corporal punishment. Meanwhile, Stanley and Charlotte’s relationship broke down in December 1978 and they divorced in 1980.Charlotte moved into a flat in Notting Hill, where her children spent much of their time with her.
Johnson was awarded a King’s Scholarship to study at Eton College, the elite independent boarding school in Eton, Berkshire. Arriving in the autumn term of 1977, Johnson began using the given name Boris rather than Alex, and developed “the eccentric English persona” for which he would become known. He abandoned his mother’s Catholicism and became an Anglican, joining the Church of England. Although school reports complained about his idleness, complacency, and lateness, he was popular and well known at Eton. His friends were largely from the wealthy upper-middle and upper classes.
Johnson won a scholarship to read Literae Humaniores, a four-year course based in the study of Classics, at Balliol College, Oxford. Arriving at the university in late 1983, he was one of a generation of Oxford undergraduates who dominated British politics and media in the early 21st century, among them senior Conservative Party members David Cameron, William Hague, Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, and Nick Boles.
Accordingly, Mr Johnson’s formative years were set amongst frequent changes of home and country, a privileged upbringing in terms of home and schooling, an absent father, divorced parents, caring provided by au pairs, an unwell mother, the setting of high achievements which were expected to be attained and the early stated ambition of world-king. Some noteworthy ingredients there.
Mr Johnson has had an interesting relationship with the truth throughout his journalistic and political career. Johnson himself once stated that his mistakes are too numerous to list in full, so for the sake of brevity a handful have been identified.
1. The Times Sacking
Boris Johnson was sacked from his job as a graduate trainee, at The Times newspaper over allegations he fabricated a quote from his godfather, the historian Colin Lucas, for a front-page article about the discovery of Edward II’s Rose Palace.
“The trouble was that somewhere in my copy I managed to attribute to Colin the view that Edward II and Piers Gaveston would have been cavorting together in the Rose Palace,” Johnson claimed.
Alas, Gaveston was executed 13 years before the palace was built. “It was very nasty,” Mr Johnson added, before attempting to downplay it as nothing more than a schoolboy blunder. Johnson, when interviewed by The Independent newspaper stated
“I think my biggest cock-up, though, was when I first joined The Times and discovered that the site of Edward II’s Rose Palace had been found on the banks of the Thames. It was a world exclusive, but I needed to find out more about Edward II – all I knew about him was that he had a catamite, Piers Gaveston, and that he was murdered in a castle.
I was desperate to get hold of a historian who could help me, but the only one I knew was my godfather Colin Lucas, a very distinguished man who is now vice-chancellor of Oxford University. He was actually an expert on the French Revolution, not medieval England, but I rang him and he obligingly gave me some quotes about Edward II. The trouble was that somewhere in my copy I managed to attribute to Colin the view that Edward II and Piers Gaveston would have been cavorting together in the Rose Palace. Unfortunately, some linkside don at a provincial university spotted that by the time the Rose Palace was built, Piers Gaveston would long have been murdered. It was very nasty. Colin hadn’t quite said that, and now his academic reputation was on the line.
It was extremely difficult, and I had absolutely no idea what to do. I was 23, overcome with guilt and shame that this error – this howler of mine attributed to Colin – had crept on to the front page of The Times, which was holy territory for me. So I made matters worse. I wrote a further story saying that the mystery had deepened about the date of the castle.”
Note how telling a lie was downplayed to “cock-up” and a “howler”
This “howler” saw Johnson sacked from his second-job (he resigned from his first after just a week)
2. The Daily Telegraph
After leaving the Times, Mr Johnson moved to The Daily Telegraph, working as the publication’s Brussels correspondent between 1989 and 1994.
His articles, like those in several other Eurosceptic newspapers, contained many of the claims widely described as “Euromyths”, including plans to introduce same-size “eurocoffins”, establish a “banana police force” to regulate the shape of the curved yellow fruit, and ban prawn cocktail crisps.
When questioned about them in parliament, he denied suggestions they were a figment of his imagination.
“There is a great deal of effort being made to deprecate those who think we should leave the EU and everything we say is somehow mythical”, he replied.
Lie, Grandiosity, Blameshifting
3. Insulting The People of Liverpool
Mr Johnson became editor of the Spectator in 1999 after telling owner Conrad Black, who was later convicted of fraud, that he would not pursue a political career. This promise was broken in 2001 when he won election as Conservative MP for Henley in Oxfordshire.
Three years later he was forced to apologise for an article in the magazine which blamed drunken Liverpool fans for the 1989 Hillsborough disaster and suggested that the people of the city were wallowing in their victim status.
“Anyone, journalist or politician, should say sorry to the people of Liverpool – as I do – for misrepresenting what happened at Hillsborough,” he said.
Lie, Smearing, False Contrition, Lack of Emotional Empathy
4. Lying About Extra-Marital Affairs
Michael Howard gave Boris Johnson two new jobs after becoming leader of the Conservatives in 2003 – party vice-chairman and shadow arts minister.
He was sacked from both positions in November 2004 after assuring Mr Howard that tabloid reports of his affair with Spectator columnist Petronella Wyatt were false and an “inverted pyramid of piffle”. When the story was found to be true, he refused to resign, thus he had to be sacked.
Lie, Infidelity, Haughtiness, Sense of Entitlement
5. Mayoral Lies
Mr Johnson’s fondness for fallacy continued as London Mayor, having been elected to this position in 2008. Having promised in his 2008 manifesto to ensure there would be manned ticket offices at every train station, he agreed to widespread closures to pay for a 24-hour tube.
He promised to eradicate rough sleeping by 2012, only for it to double during his leadership. He was also accused of telling “barefaced lies” after he stated that police numbers would increase in London despite government cuts.
Lie, Lack of Emotional Empathy, Lack of Accountability
6. The Bullshit Bus
Launching the Vote Leave bus tour, Mr Johnson returned to the scene of his earlier falsehoods by repeating his old allegations that the EU was setting rules on the shape of bananas.
He also backed the infamous claim on the side of the bus that the UK was sending £350m a week to the EU, followed by “let’s fund our NHS instead”.
The UK Statistics Authority issued an official statement in May 2016 describing the claim as “misleading”, but Mr Johnson repeated it in an article in the Telegraph in September 2017.
Lie, Sense of Entitlement, Haughtiness, Lack of Accountability
7. Not So Much Turkish Delight
In January 2019, Boris Johnson claimed he did not mention Turkey during the referendum to leave the EU after it was suggested he falsely claimed 80 million Turks would come to Britain unless the UK left the EU.
In fact, he co-signed a letter stating that “the only way to avoid having common borders with Turkey is to vote Leave and take back control”.
Mr Johnson, whose great-grandfather was the Ottoman politican Ali Kemal, was also quoted as saying “I am very pro-Turkish but what I certainly can’t imagine is a situation in which 77 million of my fellow Turks and those of Turkish origin can come here without any checks at all. That is mad – that won’t work.”
Mr Johnson’s Turkish cousin commented: “He doesn’t strike me as being very honest about his views.” You don’t say.
Lie, Hypocrisy, Lack of Accountability
This selection is very much the tip of the iceberg and a stroll through the corridors of the internet will provide a significant array of similar examples which show a flagrant disregard for the truth, the ability to perform a volte face where politically expedient and exhibiting a huge sense of entitlement to issue such untruths and then to either restate them, dismiss them or down play them which supports a lack of accountability, haughtiness and grandiosity.
Notwithstanding the untruths, the broken promises and infidelities (more about those later) Mr Johnson is undeniably able to command considerable popularity and is a charismatic individual. Simon Jenkins, of The Guardian newspaper wrote
“Johnson is the darling of the polls. He mesmerises punch-drunk Tories and disillusioned Labour voters alike. He emerges from his biographical record as incompetent, lazy, dissolute and a liar, yet the public’s response is that he is “our kind of liar”. He was sacked by the Times for story fabrication and was a wildly biased reporter while in Brussels. His default mode has always been that of standup comedian: funny, unpredictable, mildly dangerous. “
Mr Jenkins perceptively continues
“The Johnson personality is clearly not to be underrated. As democracy becomes less a matter of interests and resources, it falls back on secondary responses, on making people relaxed and comfortable about the world about them. Voters seem drawn to someone who does not take life too seriously, is casual about presentation and possesses eccentric unpredictability. People like laughing at politics, and Johnson appears a fellow human. He is preferable to the spouters of robotic cliches, such as Theresa May.
Charm is discounted by political science in favour of integrity, diligence, consistency – and charisma. That is because charm is like love, its values not analysable or susceptible to science. Yet it was deployed with aplomb by Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.”
Whether it was turning up for the aftermath of the London riots in 2011 with a broom (magical thinking – I can clean this all up on my own), hanging from a zipwire stuck and waving a flag (fuel seeking), his flag-hogging antics and whiff-waff speech at the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, Mr Johnson deploys his charisma and Bumbling Boris act in order to appear like some hapless and well-intentioned, albeit clumsy overgrown schoolboy. This is a manipulation – it deflects from his many failings, it shows his grandiosity and arrogance and his lack of accountability. ‘Aw shucks, what can I say (grin)’.
Take a look at this list of vanity projects from when he was Mayor of London.
His Thames cable car, his Stratford helter-skelter (“London’s Eiffel Tower”), his rear-entry buses with rear-entry locked, his water cannon that may not fire, his unnecessary super-sewer and wildly over-engineered Crossrail, all wasted staggering sums.
A baffling £53m vanished on Johnson’s fantasy garden bridge, while Hammersmith bridge rotted up-river. The “Boris bike” scheme – in truth Livingstone’s – was supposed to cost nothing, but cost taxpayers nearly £200m in eight years. Here he is with Arnie, lapping up the applause (and bewilderment) of the crowd. Of course we know what he is lapping up really.
Do not mistake this Bumbling Boris as a quaint affectation, this is the careful and structured use of a façade to mask a calculated, cunning and Machiavellian mind at work. By appearing like some over-seized clown he diverts from what he is doing, masks the misfortune and clouds the cock-ups.
Take for example when he accused Muslim women of looking like letterboxes because they wore burkas (Haughty, Lack of Emotional Empathy, Sense of Entitlement, Insult) in 2018, he shirked questions on whether he would apologise for comparing Muslim women wearing the burka to letterboxes and bank robbers – by offering reporters camped outside his home a cup of tea. He emerged from his Oxfordshire house on Sunday armed with a tray of mugs for exhausted journalists waiting to confront him over his divisive burka comments. He declined to comment as reporters quizzed him on the controversial remarks, instead offering them a cup of tea.
Mr Johnson said: “I have nothing to say about this matter except to offer you some tea.”
He plays the clown but more importantly he gets away with it. (Lack of Accountability, Deflection).
At the closing ceremony in Beijing he was attacked for his behaviour. A commentator stated
‘At such formal occasion, he should have buttoned his jacket,’ he said.
‘If you dress informally or not properly, it can be seen as disrespect to the host.
A blogger complained Boris Johnson did not take the occasion seriously and should not have put his hand in his pocket
‘When he was stepping to the stage and down, he put his hand in the pocket of his jacket.
‘This shows he was extremely casual, he did not seem to take this occasion seriously.
‘After he took over the Olympic flag, he simply passed it to the Chinese standard-bearer.
‘He was the only person who took the flag with one hand.
‘This is very disrespectful to the Olympic flag.
‘After he took the flag, he shook hands with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Jacques Rogge and did not pay any attention to the two leaders from Beijing.
The blogger said it was ‘rude and arrogant’ that Johnson seemed to ignore the mayor of Beijing when he made an effort to try to speak to Johnson.
(Arrogance, Sense of Entitlement, Lack of Emotional Empathy)
Note how he has insulted others both individually and collectively in the past and the furore surrounding this, yet he does not learn from this and ensure he keeps his mouth shut (see The Empathy Cake ) but repeats the behaviour. Repeating what is in effect abusive behaviour is a key indicator because it shows Lack of Emotional Empathy, Lack of Accountability and Sense of Entitlement.
Johnson has extensive charisma and he uses this to manipulate, a smoke screen so that appears affable, harmless and fun, when underneath this cultivated exterior their lurks a calculated, driven predator for power in all of its forms.
Here are some thoughts from noted commentators with regard to this façade that Mr Johnson has created
Biographer Sonia Purnell described his public persona as “brand Boris”, noting that he developed it while at Oxford University.
Max Hastings referred to this public image as a “façade resembling that of P. G. Wodehouse’s Gussie Fink-Nottle, allied to wit, charm, brilliance and startling flashes of instability”, while political scientist Andrew Crines stated that Johnson displayed “the character of a likable and trustworthy individual with strong intellectual capital”.
Private Eye editor Ian Hislop has defined him as “Beano Boris” due to his perceived comical nature, saying: “He’s our Berlusconi … He’s the only feel-good politician we have, everyone else is too busy being responsible.”[
To the journalist Dave Hill, Johnson was “a unique figure in British politics, an unprecedented blend of comedian, conman, faux subversive showman and populist media confection”.
The façade management does not end there however:-
Johnson purposely cultivates a “semi-shambolic look”, for instance by specifically ruffling his hair in a certain way for when he makes public appearances. Purnell described him as “a manic self-promoter” who filled his life with “fun and jokes”. Described by Crines as “a joker”, Johnson has stated that “humour is a utensil that you can use to sugar the pill and to get important points across.”
Purnell noted that colleagues regularly expressed the view that Johnson used people to advance his own interests, with Gimson noting that Johnson was “one of the great flatterers of our times. Purnell noted that he deflected serious questions using “a little humour and a good deal of bravado”. According to Gimson, Johnson was “a humane man” who “could also be staggeringly inconsiderate of others” when pursuing his own interests. Gimson also noted that Johnson has “an excessive desire to be liked”.
(Façade Management, Manipulate By Charm, Grandiosity, Poor Boundary Recognition, Fuel Requirement, Sense of Entitlement, lack of Emotional Empathy)
Mr Johnson wed first wife Allegra Mostyn-Owen in 1987 after they met at Oxford, but split when he had an affair with Marina Wheeler.
She married him in 1993, but first caught him out over his relationship with society writer Petronella Wyatt. He had a four-year affair with Miss Wyatt while he was editor of The Spectator and she was one of his columnists.Petronella later told how she had an abortion and suffered a miscarriage.
Mr Johnson described reports of their affair as an “inverted pyramid of piffle”.
Furious Miss Wheller threw him out of their home in Highgate, North London, but later took him back. His affairs did not end there. The affair with Miss Wyatt overlapped with his romance with Anna Fazackerley, a journalist on the Times Educational Supplement.
The pair were said to have had sex while he was a junior shadow education minister in 2005. On one occasion Mr Johnson got off a flight home from China to hook up with Ms Fazackerley in Paris.
Johnson’s love life faced further chaos when he fathered a lovechild with arts consultant Helen Macintyre in 2009.
His suffering wife Kicked him out again – only to take him back once more. Full details of the affair emerged in court after Ms Macintyre lost a three-year legal battle to stop the Press naming Boris as the father of her daughter Stephanie.
The Appeal Court in London also heard in 2013 that Ms Macintyre’s daughter was alleged to be the second child conceived as a result of Boris’s extra-marital affairs.
One ex described his romancing style as “persistent”. Persistent – does that ring any bells with readers? Want some more bells, how about this quote from the same ex,
She said: “He made himself so endearing and amusing. I didn’t know of his reputation and to look at him you would never imagine he was a womaniser.
“But I do recall that he became very persistent in his attentions and, you know, eventually one thing led to another.
“He relies entirely on his personality, especially his wit and that bumbling character that he’s developed and, well, it does seem to be still working, doesn’t it?
“Any sensible girl should stay away from him. You’ll get the cheery persistence, then the conquest, but when he’s bored he won’t care about you in the slightest.
I can hear your murmurs of familiarity now.
In September 2018, Miss Wheeler had clearly had enough as separation occurred as it was confirmed they had separated months ago and had begun divorce proceedings. Mr Johnson was not too trouble however as he had girlfriend Carrie Symonds who soon found herself on the Johnson rollercoaster. Last month,
Police were called to the home of Mr Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds after receiving reports of a domestic incident involving screaming and banging. A neighbour dialled 999 after hearing a loud and prolonged altercation shortly after midnight.
At one point Ms Symonds, the former Conservative party head of press, could be heard telling Mr Johnson to “get off me” and “get out of my flat”, according to the Guardian newspaper. Ms Symonds was overheard saying that Mr Johnson had ruined a settee with red wine and shouted “You just don’t care for anything because you’re spoilt. You have no care for money or anything.” Accurate but she doesn’t know anywhere even nearing half the picture.
A string of relationships, infidelity, swift moves to the next love interest and tempestuous activity.
(Infidelity, Poor Boundary Recognition, Manipulation, Ignition of Fury, Fuel Gathering, Sense of Entitlement, Lack of Emotional Empathy).
And there is much, much more besides on Mr Johnson.
This is an individual who shows repeated and all indicators of narcissism – his arrogance, magical thinking and grandiosity, poor boundary recognition extensively manipulative behaviour, excessive charm, flippancy, glibness, sense of entitlement, lack of emotional empathy, calculated behaviours, extensive fuel matrix and huge fuel needs.
He is successful, entertaining, power hungry (his political activity merits a huge article in itself) and dangerous.
Boris Johnson is a Very Political Narcissist.
Will he be a Very Prime Ministerial Narcissist? We shall soon find out.