HOW DO YOU LIKE BEING MANIPULATED & LIED TO?

So, Boris Johnson told his ridiculous lie about his hobby of making buses from cardboard/wine boxes and painting them with happy people!

Of course this was utterly bizarre and virtually no-one believes it was true. He also seemed to be very much making it up as he went along – not describing something that he’d actually ever done.

So why? Why would he do that and make himself look like a bumbling, incoherent fool again? There are two theories and I subscribe to both. The first is fairly obvious; the second is far more devious and sinister.

So firstly, there’s the ‘dead cat’ theory. In 2013, Johnson wrote: “Let us suppose you are losing an argument. The facts are overwhelmingly against you, and the more people focus on the reality the worse it is for you and your case. Your best bet in these circumstances is to perform a manoeuvre that a great campaigner describes as ‘throwing a dead cat on the table, mate’.

“There is one thing that is absolutely certain about throwing a dead cat on the dining room table – and I don’t mean that people will be outraged, alarmed, disgusted. That is true, but irrelevant. The key point, says my Australian friend, is that everyone will shout ‘Jeez, mate: there’s a dead cat on the table!’

“In other words they will be talking about the dead cat, the thing you want them to talk about, and they will not be talking about the issue that has been causing you so much grief.”

Undoubtedly, Johnson’s model bus drivel came at a time that he was under pressure – unable to answer the NO Deal Brexit question (will he defy Parliament if they continue to vote against it?), failing to appear for 2 of the 3 scheduled TV debates, the police being called to his girlfriend’s flat after their argument during which she shouted: “Get off me!” and “Get out of my flat!” and then his abject failure to answer (over 20 times) LBC’s Nick Ferrari’s questions about the date and origin of the ‘cosy’ photo of Johnson and his girlfriend released to the media in an obvious attempt to pretend all was now fine between them (when the photo was clearly old). Tricky situation….. ideal time for a dead cat story to fill up the news cycle!

But the second explanation is altogether more dastardly! OK, so throw out a dead cat story: fine….. but why make it about buses, given that Johnson’s history with buses is so terrible? There’s the appalling and costly failure of his Routemaster buses (‘Boris Buses’) from his time as London Mayor and, of course, there’s The BIg Red Bus Lie (the £350 million for the NHS lie) over which Johnson faced a legal challenge for knowingly lying to the public. You’d think he’d want to steer well clear of any further reference to buses! But no….. that’s exactly the reason that he gave his model buses bullshit……

According to Search Engine Optimisation experts Parallax, prior to his hobby lie, if you searched google for ‘Boris bus’, you’d have a shed-load of stories about the Routemaster buses and the Brexit bus – both Johnson catastrophes! But now, most of the top stories that appear in the google search are about Johnson’s weird, eccentric hobby.

Better to be weird, funny, shambolic and eccentric (the image Johnson loves to play up to) than a disastrous failure and a liar!

Before anyone gives him any credit for this or starts labelling him a genius, it’s worth noting this ploy won’t have been conjured up by Boris himself. He now employs Australian political strategist Lynton Crosby to manage his Leadership campaign. Crosby managed David Cameron’s re-election campaign in 2015 and is known as a “master of the dark political arts.” And as we saw recently in an interview, Johnson is in regular contact with Steve Bannon, Trump’s campaign Chief Executive and then Chief Strategist, founder and former Chair of Far Right news outlet Breitbart and Vice President of the discredited Cambridge Analytica. One can reasonably assume that either one of these two political operatives were responsible for the plan.

I expect that Talk Radio’s political editor Ross Kempsell who conducted the interview was probably encouraged pre-interview to ask the somewhat odd dual question: “What do you do to relax? What do you do to switch off?” (I’ve emailed him to ask whether the question was solicited, but doubt I’ll get a reply!) He did seem not only incredulous at Johnson’s response but also somewhat pissed off and wanting to move on as if he’d sensed that he was a patsy.

The questions for the electorate are:

HOW DO YOU LIKE BEING MANIPULATED AND LIED TO?! AND ARE WE GOING TO STAND FOR IT?!

Tom Lane