CAMBERWELL is the distinctly south London version of Islington. Tree-lined lanes of Georgian townhouses alongside ugly concrete estates, a gum-strewn high street reeking of cannabis, trendy bars and endemic knife crime. Hoodlums and metropolitan elite living in close proximity but in mutually blissful ignorance.
Europhilia and Jeremy Corbyn prevail among the virtue-signalling middle class residents, but the EU means nothing to the large ethnic diasporas cooped in council flats.
What’s Boris doing in this neck of the woods? His girlfriend Carrie has a flat in one of the more salubrious streets, and the locals have responded with smug and satirical posters on his windscreen and tied to railings: ‘We’ll endure this man as a neighbour, but not as prime minister’, ‘Keep EU in SE5’ and the charming ‘’F*** Boris’. One resident told the Daily Mail ‘this is a pretty gentrified area, we’re all liberal here, so he doesn’t really fit in’. Bigotry writ large, by people who profess their superior values of tolerance and inclusivity.
A Friday night row between the PM-in-waiting and his latest flame was gleefully recorded and sent to the Guardian by Tom Penn, a left-wing playwright. Penn said that his only political activity was being part of the Remain resistance, and that eavesdropping on Boris was in public interest. Incurring the wrath of pro-Brexit followers on Twitter, Penn appealed for immunity as a private citizen. Poor Tom – it can’t be nice being pursued by political zealots – how would they like it?
The weekend newspapers fell for this story, exploiting its sensational appeal. Only the Sunday Telegraph headlined on the dubious motives of the couple who reported Boris to the police. Jay Beecher on Politicalite was one of the first to call out the truth on the Camberwell ‘domestic’.
Another reality check was on Spiked website, an impeccably principled defender of freedom of speech. Brendan O’Neil and associates take a Voltairian stance against the ‘pile-ons’ of our time, from whichever end of the political spectrum. Partisan, puritanical persecution is all the rage. Attacked for trying to inject common sense into the animus, Laura Perrins of Conservative Woman website tweeted: –
‘Well I give up. I don’t even like Boris Johnson but it seems that we have a right to know everything about him. Every row, every domestic detail. Everything. This is a sick standard to have of any politician.’
Yet the great British public is no longer trustful of the mainstream media, and irrationally disproportionate Twitterstorms are losing their potency. You’ll find a different perspective in Wetherspoons, where lesser mortals in an imperfect world alleviate the blows and blunders of life. We are all sinners, and moralists throwing stones in glasshouses will get their come-uppance.
To many ordinary people Boris is the only show in town, and the sooner he gets us out of the EU the better. You wouldn’t buy a second-hand Toyota from the blond buffoon, but his positive energy, classic liberal philosophy and humour contrast starkly with his Tory rivals. His rival Jeremy Hunt is continuity May, continuity establishment and continuity Remain.
And this is why the effort to stop Boris will escalate from now until 31st October. My guess is that this will backfire. Decent folk see the agenda; they see the strategy. Tom Penn, a 29-year-old bearded progressive, is just another Remainer who has thrown his toys out of the pram. Yet these overgrown kids are dangerous, and hopefully Boris will learn from his experience and be more alert to his enemies. They have shown that they want nothing less than to destroy him. That should put steel in his resolve.