We like nothing more than a good, frothy scandal. Politics usually offers more than its share. Disgraced, scruffy men in sober suits who are evicted from the office for not being able to keep their pants down have long been a staple of this well-loved genre.
ritain offered more than its fair share. Alternately gripping and ghastly, the Profumo case in the 1960s was eclipsed by the bizarre Jeremy Thorpe scandal just a decade later. There are countless others, but these two set the bar incredibly high. Two cheeky guys who together have sold millions of newspapers and inspired TV series and at least one movie.
The Chris Pincher case wasn’t in this league. A politician allegedly drunk groping other Tories in an exclusive club would hardly make the top 100. But it toppled Boris Johnson so it deserves immortality, although the audacity of impropriety hardly justifies it.
Our political scandals have been lackluster in comparison. More commonly via bulging brown envelopes or ministers driving three sheets in the wind down the N7.
Rarely does a Teachta Dála hit a quota in the wrong bed. With honorable exceptions, of course. Nod and a wink.
That might explain our never-ending fascination with scandals over the water. The range and variety of them never fails to get the juices flowing.
To be fair, Boris never offered a dull moment. While political duplicity was ultimately enough for him, it was the serial scandal that intrigued us most.
His personal life has always been an inexplicable mess and he has proven as faithful to the countless women in his life as he is to the international laws to which he has bound his nation.
That might make him what they used to call Boundary at Eton, but it’s also made him particularly intriguing to Ireland, a country that likes nothing more than finding something English that it can feel superior about.
Our history, or at least the parts we enjoy learning and remembering, is all about the lies, betrayals and unreliability of our neighbors. Johnson seems to embody all of these genetic weaknesses and more.
All of this has come more into focus as the dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol has intensified in recent years. Boris’ oven-ready Brexit deal had that solution sewn into his fabric, but he chose to work his way out of it as well.
When asked why Leo Varadkar couldn’t be called Murphy “like everyone else,” Johnson often mixed such playful humor with a touch of caustic xenophobia.
It was what made him popular in the Tory shires and the Rust Belt of northern England, but made him something of a pantomime villain on John Bull’s other island.
No doubt the Conservative Party, a slave to low standards in high places, will soon shock us again. We wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves if we didn’t.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/loving-to-hate-boris-made-us-feel-good-about-ourselves-41832158.html Love hating Boris made us feel good