You could call Theresa May many things, you could call Barack Obama many things, you could call Hillary Clinton many things; but you’d be unlikely to refer to any of them as immature. So how odd it is that immaturity is what many people think of, when they consider the President of the United States Donald Trump and the possible next Prime Minister of Britain, Boris Johnson.
Trump is due to arrive in Britain with his sister and his cousin and his aunt (no, not literally, Virginia – just a big contingent of his family). When he arrives, demonstrators have promised to launch a giant blimp of a baby to hover over proceedings, to hover over his visit. And indeed, Trump displays many of the characteristics of a youngster – impetuous, name-calling, irresponsible, bullying, telling lies that a half-wit could see through,
Boris Johnson has similarly alarming qualities, although in his case the public tend to think of him as more a bumbling schoolboy. He too is irresponsible, untrustworthy, a liar, a womanizer and an A1 chancer. One notable difference between Donald and Boris, however, is that Boris has a mischievous sense of humour and can write; Donald has neither quality.
And in that respect, Johnson is the more dangerous politician: he has that key quality of likeability. I expect there are some who worship the ground on which Trump stalks, but I doubt if many actually like him. How could you like someone with his attitude to women and his consistent disregard for the truth? But Boris is a likeable liar. You get the sense that he likes being with people, likes cracking jokes, mightn’t go with you to the corner pub but would happily have a selfie with you and make some witty remark, probably in Latin, as you left. All of those qualities may well propel him into No10 Downing Street.
There is one consolation in the Boris horrorshow. He has shown himself a man who licks his finger and holds it up to see which way the wind is blowing. It took him quite a while to decide if he was an ardent Brexiteer. He’s not nearly as forthright as that other jolly chappie Nigel Farage: he fires the occasional volley against Europe or against immigrants or Muslim women who, he contends, look like pillar-boxes.
They both have odd hair, they both are bed-hoppers, they both have a high regard for themselves. And as Donald has spent the last three years misgoverning the US, Boris may be about to start misgoverning Britain at a time when it, just like the US, his country is crying out for an adult to enter the room and put the squawling, immature un-grownups back in the nursery or the Sixth Form and turn the key.