Seldom can someone have so badly misjudged the mood of a nation
Even the very best conmen have their tells. Those little tics that give away the lies. And Boris Johnson has never been a particularly good conman. His tells are hidden in plain sight. The more pronounced the hand gesture, the greater the lie. You can just imagine the pounding the kitchen table must have got when he returned home after yet another IT lesson. But up till now, he’s got away with it – in his public life at least – because the country has been happy to collude with him. It wanted someone who could tell a few gags and promise that everything would be OK in the end. The narcissistic fantasist as national saviour.
But the last eight months have changed all that. The country has grown up in the time of coronavirus. Tens of thousands have died; hundreds of thousands have become ill; millions are feeling frightened and insecure about their jobs. Yet even though the prime minister has had time to move on, he appears to have learned nothing. Boris may himself have wound up in intensive care, but he still wants to be Mr Good Time Guy with gags about losing weight and arm-wrestling. But it’s becoming more and more of a struggle. His eyes that used to sparkle from the acclaim are now mere dead hollows. It’s possible that not even Boris believes in Boris. The scepticism is contagious.