Boris Bonus Tactics

Whatever your political allegiance, the RBS bonus announcement (which I’ve written about for Full Fact) resulted in a spectacular political manoeuvre.

Boris Johnson remarked that he couldn’t understand the bonus awarded to Stephen Hester as it was “completely out of whack” with other people’s pay. Many argued the Mayor of London was being opportunist, jumping on a bandwagon due to the upcoming mayoral election.

But Boris’s remarks had a secondary effect which won’t have gone unnoticed by his rivals. The dramatic difference in opinion between the Mayor and his party catapulted him straight into the headlines, ahead of Ed Miliband. An opportunity for Mr Miliband to refer back to his previous comments on “predatory capitalism” suddenly vanished as he was relegated to the second commentator on the issue. Despite it being the major story on the BBC News Channel, at one point I counted 7 minutes before his interview was featured, as Boris “became the story”.

The received wisdom is that when Mr Johnson goes “off-message” it is immensely frustrating for the Conservative party. I suspect yesterday might have been an exception.