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If Boris Johnson’s Kosovo analogy was planned, then Cameron has a problem

Posted on 28 October 2010 | 12:10pm

You can never quite tell with Boris Johnson whether what comes out of his mouth is planned or wholly accidental.

That he has some concerns about the coalition government’s planned changes to housing benefit is already known. But to put the changes, and their potential impact, into the same breath as ‘Kosovo-style social cleansing’ goes a long way beyond ‘some concerns.’

So whether it was planned or not – live radio has a habit of getting a combination of both – it will have been felt in Downing Street, that much is for sure … felt as in ‘ouch,’ as if David Cameron didn’t have enough on his plate today what with a very tricky European Summit.

At least when former Labour mayor Ken Livingstone fired broadsides at Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, there was nothing terribly surprising about them. They had always been on different sides of most arguments. But Johnson and Cameron, if no longer bosom buddies, are not enemies in the same way.

Take the Kosovo analogy to its logical conclusion, and Johnson is effectively putting his colleague and fellow Old Etonian/Bullingdon Club member into the same bracket as Slobodan Milosevic.

As I said yesterday, I am currently putting the finishing touches to volume two of my diaries, and Milosevic’s ethnic cleansing of Kosovo figures large towards the end of the book. He was odious, and his policies and their impact even more so. If I was Cameron, I would be pretty angry that the Kosovo analogy was made, much as I agree with his view that the policy could have a pernicious impact upon many London families.

If it was an accident, we simply add it to the list of over the top statements and gaffes from the gaffe-prone blundering Boris. If it was planned, then DC, we have a problem!

  • It’s Boris! Just taking it with a pinch of salt! (Or a bag…)

  • Jeremy

    and politically it is important for Boris to defend the outer london soft tory vote. they work hard and pay their way and then they see their schools etc filling up with poor people, just in time for us to vote on the next mayor

  • Richard Brittain

    Surprised that divisions have already started. I don’t remember Labour disagreeing so publically in the first year of their office.

    I was given a copy of The Blair Years as a birthday present. An excellent gift, though I’d already read most of it in the library.

  • Ben Dalrymple

    The genuine ‘cleansing’ in Kosovo was effected by a KLA minority as an effective stunt, aided enormoulsy by the NATO bombing. It is not Milosevic but Blair and the fascist murder Hashim Thaci who is the target….

  • arresta

    This housing policy is the same social engineering that “Lady” Porter and her cronies tried the last time the tories were in power, depose the working class Labour supporters and replace them with voters more likely to vote tory; lets hope in ends the same way with massive personal surcharges and shame.

  • Peter Deville

    I’m surprised at the way Cameron’s people and Vince Cable have handled this. They could have smoothed it over with the line that they are working together with Boris to make the policy work – after all, Boris said as much and that he WOULDN’T let social cleansing take place. Instead, the ratcheted up the tension by criticising Boris.

    It’s another sign amongst quite a few others that Cameron and the coalition top brass are becoming increasingly rattled by criticism. The press have thus far given them an easy ride so they’re not used to it, but now divisions are growing and Labour has a strong leadership and strategy, they’re getting easily riled and looking jittery.

    As they used to say in Dad’s Army, they don’t like it up ’em!

  • Gilliebc

    Don’t you just love Boris? He’s like some early 20th Century throwback. He talks of women as memsaabs (not sure how that word is spelt). I’m glad he’s the Tories problem though.

  • Quinney

    I surprised our leadership never made the comparision with Dame Shirley. Perhaps you could do a regualr “Back to the Future” spot with this as number one is a series of many,

  • ML

    I think that Boris was comparing the situation with more than 200,000 Serbs and their families who were socially cleansed after 1999 and never really allowed to come back as the return is just not sustainable and it will stay that way. I don’t thin, as you said that he was comparing his colleague with Milosevic. Finally, who remained in Kosovo today?

  • I very much doubt it was an accident. ‘Boris’ is his own secret weapon: a caricature persona to be used as a smokescreen. This guy is manipulative, clever, and a highly astute planner. They misunderestimated him!

  • Darilix

    In Kosovo remained almost the same population as it was before…the only difference is that, the serbs (most of them refugees from Croatia) now are located in north Kosovo… but for proved facts visit:
    The other thing is that they overestimate themselves as superior race in comparison with albanians…and because of that they don’t want to live with albanians. It is their choice-even we offer to them a red carpet-they will refuse!
    Who cares anyways-they started everything, everybody knows that!!

  • Anonymous

    There is a Housing Benefit PLAN that will mean no claimants will have to move… if enough of us put our money where our mouths are.