Ellen Wilkinson creates Boris Johnson

The political outsider is an old trick of the career politician. Ellen Wilkinson could be describing Boris Johnson when she paints a picture of the fictional Home Secretary in her 1932 crime novel:

“…he had marched by well-signposted stages to the place which was obviously his due…Very regrettably, as he had considered, certain newspapers had been encouraging the low craft of the caricaturist. These fellows had seized with joy on such magnificent copy he provided…The public now knew him by an impish nickname… the average man and women liked him non the less for being able to laugh at him…the public was not quite sure of him because he, elusive, incalculable, was never quite sure of himself. He held his present high position not by qualities of decisive leadership, but because of the very absence of those qualities…he reflected the lack of purpose of his period…It was counted to him for a virtue that he could answer any question and leave the questioner soothed, but completely in the dark as to what he meant. Yet even his irritated enemies could not deny the personal charm of the man

   …his personal friend saw a different side…He had a temper which could take full revenge in private for the self-control needed for his official role of public soother.”

First published George G Harrap 1932

This edition The British Library 2018

Shields Gazette on all you need to know about ‘Red Elllen’

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