32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Essential reading for all London voters, 3 Oct 2011
I'll confess, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Labour voter and was aghast when Boris Johnson beat Ken Livingstone to become Mayor of London in 2008. Indeed, I bought this book precisely because I wanted to arm myself with evidence to help sway those of my friends considering voting for Boris again in 2012. And there's certainly much for anti-BoJo types to quote from here. In particular stories about his 'part-time' approach to the mayoralty, some alarming allegations from a former Met officer about political interference in London's policing, and revelations about quite how much the 'Boris Bikes' and other so-called 'vanity projects' are likely to cost Londoners.
That all said, I can't say the book is overtly hostile to Boris. If I was forced to guess, I'd say Sonia Purnell probably voted for him. There's a certain quality of admiration in her writing. At the very least, she's genuinely fascinated by Boris and her depiction of him as the most cunning, charismatic and complicated character in British life today is hard to deny.
Which is probably why, despite myself, I found the Boris presented by this book so entertaining. His isn't the dull story of uninterrupted privilege and career politics that Purnell seems to believe David Cameron has enjoyed - although that's not to say Boris isn't privileged. There's much wit, roguish behaviour, and just plain bad behaviour to be enjoyed here. And some of that behaviour is so bad you could be forgiven for wondering, 'How can he ever have become an MP, let alone Mayor after that?' But, as Purnell argues convincingly, his carefully crafted public persona - Boris the Buffoon - acts as a Teflon shield that allows him to get away with it.
Personally, I could have done with less about Boris's supposed philandering and sexual appetites (if the French disqualified men from public office on the grounds of sexual infidelity there'd be very few left to run the country!). However, that's still a relatively small part of a big, very thorough book which should be essential reading for anyone who professes to care about London - whether you love Boris, or loathe him.