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It seemed only right that a profile of the man who will now mislead the UK summarises what is really behind the electoral results, after all who knows much more about him than he doesn’t brush his hair, is bumbling and sometimes funny. Brian Milne dissects.

When I was young I used to love election nights. Firstly, I could stay up all night and hang around waiting for results outside the nearby council place. Secondly, I would have my father’s judgements. He was a broad Scots speaker, a socialist far left of Labour who he had little time for. No translations on offer, but this is what I might have heard had he lived to see this election: “Whit is gaein on here? Ye hae a liar wha didnae even camb hus hair. A’ he dis is lie, he cannae dae onythin else, a useless gowk….” So it would have gone on. I would have creased up laughing, but then I understood him, unlike anybody else.

It is all over bar the recriminations. X will blame Y for not winning and jubilation will precede backstabbing in the victorious party, no doubt gleefully watched by the now safely elected prime minister. This year, 2019, will go down in my memory as probably the worst set of political recollections of what I do not want to remember. Does that make good nonsense? I hope so. I can only ridicule what has befallen the UK that disunited and belatedly seriously misled and confused blot on the European map.

I therefore felt it only right that I do a profile of the man who will now mislead the UK, after all who knows much more about him than he doesn’t brush his hair, gets on with Donald Trump, went to Eton and Oxford and is generally a stranger to that established behavioural trait known as the truth. So here goes. A portrait in full colour, but overwhelmingly blue.

The trickster

Here we are with a hoax pretending to be somebody other than who he is or might be who calls himself Boris Johnson who is really Alexander de Pfeffel Johnson, who is not really even that, a man blinded by ambition that has become the power that drives him. If he actually drives that way, then I would not care to be on the same road at the same time. He tries to impress that he can steer things in particular places, but only chaos ensues. He therefore bluffs; the trickster with very few real skills. He has always been the trickster. For me as an anthropologist, that means that as in mythology, the trickster is the character in a story which is conventionally about what befalls the victims more than the actual character responsible that appears in folklore and religion a lot. The Devil and his demons are often considered the ultimate tricksters. Good old Renard the fox is the most famous folktale version, the Norse god Loki, even Krishna in Hinduism and many others in children’s so-called ‘fairy tales’ beginning with the big bad wolf are in there with this particular prime minister. The trickster exhibits a higher degree of intellect and often knowledge only he/she possesses, indeed sometimes invents but laced generously with the evident but obscure that can be proven, then uses that to play tricks or otherwise disobey normal rules and conventional behaviour. With his lies and other deceits in his relationships, his method of reaching power and now what ‘Johnson’ clearly intends to do with and to parliament to achieve Brexit, we have a truly classic example of a trickster.

Put the two things together and here we have the nastiest version of the trickster, one who uses his deviation from normal rules and practice but rides on the prejudices of others, especially the deeply seated ones that people often do not see themselves. Calling out the three little pigs on false promises has nothing on this man’s wily ways. He is, therefore, highly methodical in his madness, the deceiver who is believed but will never deliver anything that is not in his own best interest. As a narcissist, which he is generally acknowledged as, his own best interest is actually all that counts. He would perhaps never kill to have his way himself, but his lack of empathy warns me that a goodly number of people could one day just simply vanish. As long as it is done for him, narcissists tend not to like to soil their hands. In their morphology serial killers are also very often tricksters by the definition I work to, so absolutely possible.

Who is he? Let’s look…

Let me begin by playing the part of a dissecting pathologist. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, at least supposedly, is on the slab. Let us begin to dismember him. He was born in New York in 1964 where his father Stanley was studying economics at Columbia University. He had dual UK US citizenship until he gave up the latter in 2017. In 1973 Stanley moved to Brussels when he took up a post with the European Commission. He went to the European School until he was 11, after a spell at Ashdown School he went on to Eton. He did not like his first name, thus on arrival at Eton began to use Boris. He needed to be somebody rather than nobody because he was a scholarship boy from only a well-heeled toward upper middle class family, but never the aristocratic background he strives to have us imagine. Such humiliation, so he invented, not even reinvented, himself as the bumbling, blustering oaf we all know. In truth a fiction. Without the scholarship, at least his mother Charlotte Johnson Wahl has said several times, they could never have afforded it. There is an irony in that Charlotte is the daughter of Sir James Fawcett, a prominent barrister, member of the European Commission for Human Rights from 1962 to 1984, its president from 1972 to 1981 and knighted in 1984. A highly honourable grandparent. Grandson, well not somebody who appears quite prepared to leave the jurisdiction of that commission. He may though, despite a pedigree in human rights and familial connections to the European Commission. Not so much a chameleon as a snake that sheds its skins very often, it not only changes colours but also shape, one might even say type of snake too.

 

But I shall continue. De Pfeffel? Oh really? No! It is somehow or other an adoption from father Stanley’s ancestry. Stanley’s maternal grandmother’s maiden name was von Pfeffel. Her father, great grandfather of de Pfeffel, was Hubert Freiherr von Pfeffel, born in Munich, one of a line of von Pfeffel Freiherren before him. This may look aristocratic, no folk, no deal. A Freiherr cannot be styled a lord in England, given it is the bottom of the Germanic nobility ladder, more a kind of gentleman landowner, perhaps a squire, not that the appellation ‘gentleman’ always rang true either. Strictly speaking, the title was done away with in 1918, but as the subject of our dissection would confirm, rules are to be broken whenever one is privileged enough to do so. He does, but without the honesty to use the von or the Greiherr. Then Johnson, surely just his father’s name, eh what chaps? No it is not really, because he is a grandson of Ali Kemal Bey, who was a liberal Circassian Turkish journalist and for some time the interior minister in the government of Damat Ferid Pasha, Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire. Kemal was murdered during the Turkish War of Independence in 1922. Kemal had fled in to exile in England, where in late 1909, his first wife Winifred gave birth to a son, Osman Wilfred Kemal. Kemal stayed with his mother-in-law Margaret Brun (née Johnson) with his children after Winifred died. During WW1 Osman Kemal was recognised as a British subject and took his grandmother’s maiden name Johnson to become Wilfred Johnson. So we have somebody who hides his ancestral names behind a posh sounding pseudo Ango-French double barrelled invention. Would Ali Osman von Pfeffel Kemal Bey have made it as easily as the contrived Boris Johnson? I harbour some doubts, in fact many.

What else don’t we all know?

Shall I dismember further? OK. The veneer of ultimate Englishness has worn thin, but let us looks at mother’s side of the family a little. She is a granddaughter of Elias Avery Lowe, a palaeographer, somebody who studies ancient and historical handwritten texts, who was an American of Russian Jewish origin. All xenophobic nuances one might lay on me aside, again Boris Johnson’s authentic Englishness diminishes. I mean no offence, well perhaps I do having Scots origins, but untainted Anglo-Saxon of blue blood he is not, except in his fantasies that he lives inside and tries to draw us into. Sorry pal, but I am not that gullible.

Anyway, who has referred to women who wear burqas as ‘pillar boxes’ or looking like ‘bank robbers’ and said that Africans are ‘piccaninnies’ and saying they have ‘watermelon smiles’ in a column in the Daily Telegraph some years ago. Discretion is not a hallmark of this man who will now represent the UK in the rest of the world. Some people might say he is a tactless, undiplomatic oaf. I just have, I’ll stand by that.

So, we now know who he isn’t but could be, if he wanted to be if his reality ever caught up with him. If there is such a thing! Take his journalistic talents.  He is the person to be held personally responsible for much of the UK’s neurosis about the EU.  He described ‘edicts’, his choice of word in language made to distort what he described as facts that were his contrivance, about a ban on curved bananas that fed (sic) a dishonest and xenophobic campaign about UK democracy. Mince pies and mushy peas suffered similar fabricated myths that were the imaginations of a bored, second rate journalist. Perhaps his great triumph was the fictitious ban on prawn cocktail crisps, for which the blameworthy but really blameless German EU official, Martin Bangemann, became known as the ‘Sour Kraut’ in UK tabloids henceforth. It matters little whether or not he believed the narrative he made up and that he was the one who sowed the seeds of the persistent myth that has done more damage than good, that the EU elite on the top floors of the Berlaymont, the office building in Brussels which houses the headquarters of the European Commission, were engineering a federal superstate in which, at that point in time, Jacques Delors would ultimately ‘rule’ Europe. He was sacked from The Times in 1988 for two of his fabrications. One was even a quote he claimed was from his godfather, historian Colin Lucas, which was energetically denied and proven to be a falsification by the alleged author. Then in 1994 The Daily Telegraph sacked him for the series of euromyths he has since admitted he made up out of sheer boredom. That he is now a columnist for the latter publication shows a rather bad sense of taste on the part of editors and proprietors, but especially those owning the ‘Torygraph’ anyway, whoever they are? David and Frederick Barclay, commonly referred to as the ‘Barclay Brothers’ or ‘Barclay Twins’ bought the lease of Brecqhou, the smallest of the Channel Islands just off the coast of Sark to which it belongs.  The landholdings of Sark, such as that island, are held by 40 tenants representing the parcels of the 40 families who originally colonised Sark. Since 1993 the tenement of Brecqhou has been owned by the Barclay brothers, who are co-owners of The Daily Telegraph, which they bought for £2.3 million from that paragon of virtue Canadian businessman Conrad Black who was done for fraud and obstruction of justice in the USA in 2007, served 29 months of a six and a half year sentence but was finally pardoned by our subjects friend Donald Trump this year. Since buying the island’s tenure the Barclay lads have had sporadic legal disputes with the government of Sark, expressing their desire to make the little island politically independent. They drive cars on the island and have a helicopter, both of which are banned under Sark law. In other words, they are ‘strange’, want their own country, which is a kind of feudal estate anyway, and break the law because they break the law. They are what one might consider very appropriate bosses for the journalistic part of the prime minister of the UK who appears at times to harbour very similar ambitions. It is a small world, a very strange one where connections are all, except one where joined up thoughts, obeying the law and truth are foreign.

The women and children not exactly in his life

Honesty has never really slept in the same bed as this man. Well, perhaps she has, but nobody of that name who has born one of his sprogs has yet been identified. A surprising number of women have though. In 1987 he married Allegra Mostyn-Owen, they divorced in 1993. Just twelve days later Johnson married Marina Wheeler, then five weeks later their first child was born. They have four children: two daughters and two sons, but are apparently in the process of divorcing since 2018. In November 2004 Lady Verushka Wyatt revealed details of a four year long affair with her daughter, Petronella Wyatt, the daughter of the late Lord Wyatt. Woodrow Wyatt had been a Labour MP for many years and himself something of a controversial journalist. She made it known that her daughter had had an abortion a month earlier as a result of an affair with him, then aged 40, who was at that point in time a household name through his appearances on the BBC’s Have I Got News for You. He had previously denied any romance being a married man with four children. In 2009, a daughter was born to Helen MacIntyre which he tried to conceal; then in 2013, the Court of Appeal quashed an injunction that sought to ban reports of his daughter’s existence with the judge ruling that the public had the right to know about his reckless behaviour. The Sunday Times reported this year that in 2013 he had had a sexual relationship with an American entrepreneur, Jennifer Arcuri, which neither of them has actually denied. Right now he is together with Carrie Symonds, 24 years his junior so moving down to newer models. They have a dog, Dilwyn, together.

Recently the number of children sired by Squire von Pfeffel Kemal and his role as a father has been raised quite publicly. Thus far people are waiting for a response. That presumably includes an unknown number of mothers who would wish their offspring acknowledged, although I am not so sure they would wish to have intervention and involvement, perhaps the odd few bob here and there. If they are to be at all like Papa, then are of course the school fees. If they anything like their father then the inhabitants of the British Isles should at least protect their daughters from bumbling male oafs for fear of impregnation and genetic mutations that cause severe allergies to truth. I offer no hypothesis about the female variety, but would also advise erring on the side of caution.

The political Dorian Gray

During the election campaign, he told some untruths, to put it politely instead of blatantly calling them lies, deception and avoidance of the truth; even if they were. Fifty thousand new nurses of whom only thirty-one thousand would be new and forty new hospitals of which only six could be built during this term in office but to make forty, if that could be funded, would not be until the term in office after next, so more than ten and approaching fifteen years off. A leaked government paper showed preliminary talks about the possible privatisation of the NHS, denied unconvincingly of course. Neither figure is based on any possible reality; at least the sale to the USA has some kind of substance. He denies it all. Anybody else would have fingers aching from crossing them well concealed behind their back, he doesn’t bother. The Daily Telegraph had to correct a column written by him, after he falsely claimed the UK is set to ‘become the largest and most prosperous economy in this hemisphere’ that misrepresented long term economic projections in order to give the impression that the UK economy would overtake Germany ‘in our lifetimes’,  although no such data existing. His government suppressed a cross-party report into illicit Russian activities in the UK could have been suppressed because it raises questions over the validity of the referendum result, thus interference in the UK’s democratic processes. His people made up details of Labour spending plans. When ITV reporter Joe Pike challenged him to look at a photo of a four year old boy forced to sleep on a hospital floor, he snatched the his phone and put it in his pocket for part of the interview, all the while still refusing to look at the photo. Taking and concealing is normally considered theft. He eventually and reluctantly looked at the picture of the boy who was waiting to be treated for possible pneumonia on the floor because there was no free bed owing to the shortage of NHS funding. His eventual mumbled apology was barely discernible and not in any sense convincing. One normally looks at the goods before they buy, damaged ones are cast aside. Not in this case. This is what people chose and now have to digest. They voted him into office for five years, perhaps longer even. Bring on the political Alka-Seltzer.

In the run up to the election we have just been regrettably exposed to, it having perhaps placed him in 10 Downing Street until 2024, perhaps longer, we had to put up with repeated incomprehensible and untruth laden murmurings, about which I think I shall refrain from repeating. Perhaps a brief summary will do: pfaffle-pfifflie, plppf, er, err, Brexit. That is about all one might reluctantly remember, the rest of the utterances were far more unintelligible. The most exciting thing that happened was that he hid in a fridge. I shall, of course, watch further misadventures from a safe distance, still not knowing who he really is, but then I doubt he does, so wrapped up in his narcissistic cocoon he is that it really doesn’t matter as long as he is the centre of attraction. If ever I feel generous toward him, I might join together with many others to buy him a mirror then all as one we will implore he looks in it. Perhaps it is a life that reflects Oscar Wilde’s ‘Dorian Gray’. Dorian is used for a full-length portrait through which he meets Lord Henry Wotton. He becomes spellbound by the aristocrat’s self-gratifying world in which beauty and sensual fulfilments are the only things of value in life. He becomes aware that his physical beauty will fade, thus sells his soul, so that the picture will age and fade instead of him. That wish is granted; thus he adopts a libertine life in which he freely indulges in sensual pleasures without regard to moral principles while staying young and beautiful; meanwhile his portrait ages and records every sin. Will the prime minister of the UK be a political Dorian Gray? In his case, his image becoming ever more absurd or will he just look like Pinocchio, thus unable to stand close enough to a mirror to see? We might ask father Stanley about that, he might know; we shall see.

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Brian Milne
A Social anthropologist who specialises in the human rights of children. In practice Brian Milne has worked on the street with 'street children', child labour, young migrants, young people with HIV and AIDS. Brian’s work has taken him to around 40 countries, most of them developing nations; at least four of them have been in a state of conflict or war, thus taking him to the front line in two. Brian’s theoretical work began with migration; working on, written and publishing on citizenship and generally best known as an 'expert' on the human rights of children. Brian has a broad knowledge of human and civil rights for all ages, environmental issues and has been politically active most of his life. An internationalist and supporter of the principle of European federalisation.

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    2 Comments

    1. The sad thing about this article is that none of it matters. Doesn’t matter a jot or tittle. When you read Sam Bourne’s book “To kill the truth” you realise – if you didn’t already know – why Trump won, why people voted Leave, why Johnson won etc. The simple truth is…it doesn’t matter a boiled carrot if Johnson is a liar, a scoundrel or whatever else. It is simply irrelevant.

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