Turn of the tide but Premier was blind to gathering storm and deaf to hinge of fate
In his book The Churchill Factor Boris Johnson describes the war leader as being regarded as a “tosser” by both colleagues and the electorate at large. Only when he became prime minister in 1940 did this impression recede insists his biographer.
Politically much the same thing happened to Boris Johnson himself in his even more surprising ascension to war leader after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and in which he too assumed the mantle of the lion giving the roar.
Like his storied predecessor Mr Johnson has tended to make his own rules. Mr Johnson has always believed that like Winston Churchill he too is a creature of providence and of destiny, and to this end also possesses built in shock absorbers.
Which is why he took himself off to Kiev at the earliest opportunity there to be seen striding through the streets with president Zelensky.
In political terms being a “tosser” means being unpredictable, unreliable, out for the main chance, out for yourself instead of for your party.
Winston Churchill changed his party on several occasions, veering from Conservative to Liberal and then back to the Conservatives.
Mr Johnson managed to change his party without actually leaving it.
Australians know this as the Turnbull Effect after their own federal Liberal (ie. Conservative) prime minister Malcolm Turnbull who in full office suddenly began imposing policies ardently held by his parliamentary Opposition, notably anti-nuclear edicts.
Mr Johnson did much the same thing when he dramatically and publicly converted to the same collective cause shrilly threatening Britons with meat free diets and heat pumps in place of their domestic fireplaces.
Mr Johnson resembles his heroic subject in physical conformation being stocky and thickset and like Winston Churchill projecting a gruff no frills roast beef image. Yet here he was suddenly advocating a way of life more California than Yorkshire.
It is now that we can identify a key difference between Boris Johnson and Winston Churchill. Unlike Churchill Mr Johnson did not see the storm clouds gathering over Europe, or if he did he hoped they would go away.
The extent to which his Glasgow global convocation acted as a universal diversion from the gathering storm remains so delicate that it cannot be discussed, let alone subjected to objective evaluation.
This applies for instance to United States special envoy to Glasgow John Kerry. He was United States foreign secretary in 2014 when Crimea was originally seized. He might reasonably have been expected to have picked up at the very least some groundswell intelligence to impart.
Perhaps even a privileged update on the imminent Russia follow-up invasion?
When it came to fuel power nobody wanted to confront the EU’s dependence on Russia. The German dependence is well known. Italy is just as dependent. But nobody is talking about it, in spite of Italy having pioneered geothermal power.
Boris Johnson’s head was in the faddish sand. Perhaps like his European counterparts he put it there to avert the anger of the modish and skittish activist metropolitan privileged single issue bloc.
Winston Churchill in contrast braved the fashionable pro German acquiescence of high society and much of the aristocracy during the 1930s by constantly warning about Germany’s true intentions which duly came to pass.
Mr Johnson’s own appointment with destiny will always be shrouded by his deliberate boosterism of the Glasgow excitability which camouflaged among other things the White House’s electoral policy of securing its own coastal enclave vote by curtailing domestic energy production in favour of also relying on Russia’s.
Still, even if he did see the inevitable outcome of Russia’s drive for the warm water ports which began in 2008 with the invasion of Georgia he refrained from a full voice Churchillian warning to the West about the peril of putting its power supplies in Russian hands.
Winston Churchill stridently predicted German revanchism and kept sounding the warning regardless of the enemies however powerful or fashionable he made in the process.
Was the Brexit campaign the Boris version of this in distancing Britain from the European follies underpinning the Ukraine invasion?
Possibly. But one more sensitive topic. Why was Britain in this invasion lead up also importing so much of its energy from Russia and with no word about the inflammatory contribution inherent in this?
Winston Churchill immune to ideologies would have proclaimed the danger of this, urged the ramping up of internal production.
The spiteful silliness directed at Mr Johnson for his participation in cheering along his staff lock down after-hours drinks will melt into the mists of time. The Glaswegian virtue-a-thon may go the same way.
In the spirit of his The Churchill Factor manifesto Boris Johnson will be seen as having shared with his hero one single factor. It is the spirit of unrestrained action and commitment when the big picture threat finally and unequivocally presented itself in the form of the actual invasion.