Boris Eyes Tory Leadership
It might not be apparent but behind the grin and the carefully managed greying hair, Prime Minister David Cameron is on the ropes and is just about holding on. But for how much longer?
Opinion polls indicate that the Labour party are 15 points ahead of the Conservative party, however a recent survey in the Evening Standard put Cameron easily ahead of Labour opponent Ed Miliband in a popularity poll.
But the threat to Cameron doesn’t come from Labour at all – it’s from a lot closer to home than that.
It’s not the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg either, who could be a prime suspect after the House of Lords reform debacle, or his Liberal Democrat colleague Vince Cable who was stripped of adjudicating the News Corporation takeover bid for BskyB after he declared war on Tory favourite Rupert Murdoch.
The threat comes from none other than his great political rival and London mayor Boris Johnson. They’ve been at loggerheads since their school days – both attended Eton and went to Oxford. Today, they can be seen trading blows on issues as diverse as airports, unions and strike action, attempting to connect with the man on the street by riding bicycles and travelling on public transport and trying to upstage each other at every opportunity.
Johnson’s ambitions are clear – he wants to become Prime Minister – and to cut down Cameron along the way would be beautiful.
Johnson’s tenure as mayor of London ends in 2016, but he has refused to rule out a return to the House of Commons ahead of that and has been discussing a possible return with fellow Tories, much to Cameron’s disappointment. Johnson’s opposition to a third runway at Heathrow airport has seen him forge links with Tory MP Zac Goldsmith, also an opponent of expansion at Heathrow, with rumours suggesting that Goldsmith would move aside and let Johnson take the safe seat in a move that would pave the way to ultimately challenging, and possibly removing Cameron.
But how do Muslims in the UK see Johnson?
Put simply, British Muslims do not like Boris Johnson. And equally, Boris Johnson does not like British Muslims. Fair enough.
It could be the fact that Johnson once proclaimed that “Islam is the problem”. Or his views on Palestinians having their homes bulldozed: “After decades of deranged attacks the Israelis have come to the conclusion that this is the best way to deter Palestinian families from nurturing these vipers in their bosoms, and also the best way of explaining to the death-hungry narcissists that they may get the 72 black-eyed virgins of scripture, but their family gets the bulldozer.” Or indeed by asserting that modern Islam was “politically troublesome”.
But his views have mellowed somewhat over the years, probably in recognition of the increasing importance of the Muslim vote, especially in London where his last two election victories have been, and The Guardian reported on his ‘conversion’ to Islam. Johnson did also initiate a ‘Muslim Engagement Task Force’ – whatever that may be.
But British Muslims are not his concern at this time, and the British Muslim vote has no influence on the Tory party leadership or in safe Tory seats across the country. If Johnson does get his wish and dislodges Cameron, the next opportunity British Muslims have to oppose him will be at the next General Election – and what more do British Muslims need to get out and vote?