Belfast Telegraph

Lindy McDowell: Triumphant Boris Johnson won’t be able to treat the electorate the way he has treated women

 

Under scrutiny: Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his girlfriend Carrie Symonds at 10 Downing Street yesterday
Under scrutiny: Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his girlfriend Carrie Symonds at 10 Downing Street yesterday
Holly Willoughby (left) and Phillip Schofield
Arlene Foster
Disaster: White Island volcano
Lindy McDowell

By Lindy McDowell

In one interesting respect which hasn't been getting a whole lot of attention from political pundits more concerned about Brexit-related ramifications, this week's election has been seismic.

A watershed even.

The man who called it, fought it and won it was also the Prime Minister with the messiest private life in Number 10 history.

Two ex-wives and now a girlfriend half his age. Various previous lovers. And those are just the ones we know about.

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister for serial affairs.

Doesn't this sort of stuff matter any more?

Short answer, no.

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There was a time when the issue of how a politician behaved in his or her private life (mostly his) was regarded as an indicator of how they could be trusted in office.

The revelation of an extramarital affair would be enough to seriously damage a candidate's chances of election.

Scupper them, even.

Apart from anything else there was the argument that secrets of the bedroom variety could leave politicians, ministers especially, open to blackmail - possibly even to the detriment of the country's national safety.

Back in 1963 when John Profumo, the Secretary of State for War, was revealed to have had a fling with a prostitute, Christine Keeler - who to make things trickier for her lover in the Cabinet, was also bedding a Soviet spy - the country reeled with shock.

But also scooped up the papers for further details.

In the Eighties when Cecil Parkinson had an affair with his secretary and she later gave birth to his child it wasn't quite so scandalous - but still not seen as an especially career-enhancing revelation.

That's only a couple of examples. And it goes without saying that not a few of those stern-faced former incumbents of Number 10, whose portraits now adorn its walls and who stare down witheringly upon BoJo, had their own skeletons in the Prime Ministerial closet.

The difference was they managed to keep them in the closet.

Boris, on the other hand, hasn't been able to hide a love life that is more chequered than a Formula One flag - mostly because we live in an era when it's difficult to keep serial philandering under wraps. There's always someone with a mobile phone at the next table to capture that fleeting moment of hand-holding. Or whatever.

But what would once have had the twin-set brigade reaching for the smelling salts - a Prime Minister and his young lover openly cohabiting in Downing Street - obviously no longer bothers the electorate all that much at all.

There is still considerable censure for politicians (like DUP man David Simpson) who preach family values while straying themselves. It's not so much the infidelity that offends there as the hypocrisy.

Boris, though, does not fall into that category. His track record is an open book.

So what happens now that he has been returned to Number 10 for the foreseeable?

Will he marry Carrie?

She's young. She possibly wants to start a family with him. But Boris, as we all know, is very much a Leaver.

Arlene Foster, granted, in a different sense, isn't the first woman to whom he has been unfaithful.

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Arlene Foster

Given the office he occupies, though, it would obviously be in his interests to stabilise his relationship with his current girlfriend and keep the focus off his hitherto chaotic private life.

He's the Prime Minister - not Mick Jagger.

Plus he now has that divorce from the EU to deal with.

And outside of the boudoir he's also made promises.

Voters in the 21st century may be much more tolerant in some respects. But they're not fools. And nobody likes to be lied to - in any sense.

Hell also hath no fury like an electorate scorned.

Had our Phil of Schofield

From Gordon the Gopher to Holly Willoughby, Phillip Schofield's misfortune is that he has so often partnered a genuine national treasure. How do you cope with that?

Not very well if reports this week from the This Morning sofa are to be believed.

It's rumoured Phillip has had more feuds with his co-workers than Donald Trump.

Among those he's offended is Ruth Langsford (wife of our own Eamonn Holmes) who is said to have filed a formal complaint with ITV bosses.

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Holly Willoughby (left) and Phillip Schofield

A video doing the rounds this week shows Schofield peevishly cutting her off when she'd been talking about what was coming up on the next programme that day, Loose Women.

Other unnamed presenters are also reported to have issues with him. He's accused of being jealous of Holly's popularity (and that very successful stint standing in for Ant on I'm a Celeb) and jealous, too, of Eamonn's OBE.

He denies any rift with Ms Willoughby. "We're best mates, she's like the sister I never had. I just adore working with her, she's just perfect."

Hmmm.

Needless to say the body language experts have been out in force this week to forensically examine on-screen chemistry and to report back to us on whether such gush rings true.

Answer: hard to say.

But he's not had a good week, Phillip.

Even if only half the allegations about his "controlling" and prickly personality are true, no wonder poor Gordon the Gopher is now said to be in rehab.

New Zealand tragedy was predictable

In a world of health and safety obsession, how is it that tourists are allowed, indeed encouraged, to go and stand at the very edge of a live volcano?

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Disaster: White Island volcano

The terrible tragedy that has unfolded this week on White Island off New Zealand could surely have been anticipated.

There are times when disasters happen and you think: "Nobody could have seen that coming." This was not one of them.

Pal was keen to get into election spirit

At precisely 6.38am on Thursday morning a message from a friend pinged in on my phone. "Happy Election Day!"

Seriously?

We're now officially exchanging good wishes on the occasion of your visit to the local polling station? There could, however, be a niche in the greetings card market here.

Cards designed especially for re-elected politicians - Many Happy Returns!

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