Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Boris Johnson is the most socially liberal PM ever. Does it matter? Yes!


GUIDO was first out of the stocks on Saturday to congratulate Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds after she announced her pregnancy and their engagement on her Instagram account.

The news (not from the Prime Minister or No 10) led the headlines over the rest of the weekend. ‘No 10 wedding – and a baby’was the splash across the top half of the Sunday Telegraph‘s front page. 

A baby born anywhere is lovely news, an excitement always to be welcomed. We, too, congratulate the couple and wish them and their baby well. 

Yet we can hardly let the announcement pass without a comment on its cultural significance – what this break with formal political tradition, as well as values, represents. Does it mean the start of an entirely new ‘anything goes’ era, or or does it just reflect where we are with contemporary mores?

Whatever their political leanings, what our past married Prime Ministers had in common was their respect for the traditional (Christian) social convention of marriage and the family. However determined they may have been latterly not to judge other lifestyle choices (even to the point of penalising married families when it comes to tax, benefits and housing), from before Wilson through to Callaghan and Thatcher, from Major to Blair, Brown, Cameron and to May, they’ve all been socially conservative when it came to Christian marriage and family values and therefore, by default, publicly upheld these values.

The same cannot be said for Boris Johnson. The fact that he may be the first PM in 200 years to be married in office is of far less significance than the fact that he is the first Conservative or Labour PM openly to flout convention.

Never before has a sitting PM twice married, with offspring born out of wedlock, had a live-in partner at No Ten who announces her pregnancy before even his divorce to his current wife has come through. Yes, times have certainly changed and maybe that is exactly what this reflects. Full stop. 

We do have one proviso at TCW however, and it is this: while this ‘anything goes’ approach to family and children may be fine for the likes of middle-class Symonds and Johnson, it is not for those further down the food chain. There it is social carnage.

Our readers were predictably both thoughtful and funny on the topic. Here are some of their comments:

Inspector General wrote:

Licentious that he be, Boris is an improvement on Major whose Back-To-Basics moral revival coincided with his lust for curried egg.

Hypocrisy is the worst. One really cannot stomach it . . .

Dave wrote:

First time a prime minister has moved his girlfriend into No.10?

What’s happened to moral leadership?

Groan wrote:

I have to say there is something rather amazing about the way Boris drives a coach and horses through the virtue signalling age. He is clearly morally reprehensible but in an era when cabinet ministers resign following touching a woman’s knee there is something rather magnificent about Boris. At least with Boris you know if there is a ‘sex scandal’ there will have been a lot of actual sex and it will be genuinely scandalous. 
I know I shouldn’t think this.

esseff41 wrote:

Surely on The Conservative Woman the only point worthy of discussion is this: if a daughter is born will she be of a conservative frame of mind? Her mother is not and there are doubts about her father.

Hank Rearden wrote:

Er okay, no kids from the first wife, four from the second, one from an art dealer, another one rumoured but Google is censored on the issue and some journalist had an abortion.

So a twice-married man who has previously created six or seven babies with three or four women whose relationship with some of the kids who are now adults is alleged to be ‘strained’.

Good luck and all, but Carrie, darling, WTF were you thinking?

Reuben Wade wrote:

Congratulations Boris and Carrie. But another example that it’s mostly the rich and the unemployed welfare-lifestylers who feel they can afford to have kids these days. Never mind, the ordinary working Britons can always be replaced by people from abroad . . . that’s the Conservative continuity-Blair plan, isn’t it, Boris?

Paulski wrote:

So soon into office and Boris ignores the withdrawal agreement. (Sorry!)

The last word goes to to Louise, who wrote:

Whilst I wish Boris and his girlfriend/fiancée well, amidst the euphoria one should remember that he is not divorced from Marina Wheeler, his second wife. They might have come to a financial agreement last week, but legally they are still married.

I suppose one could say that Marina had an affair with Boris whilst he was married to his first wife Allegra Mostyn-Owen and got pregnant before Boris’s divorce, but the office of Prime Minister of Great Britain surely demands a high moral standard and for the Premier to be like Caesar’s wife.

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Edited by Kathy Gyngell

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