A former BBC producer just lifted the wig on Boris Johnson’s ‘bumbling idiot’ act

Boris Johnson
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A former BBC producer has just exposed the Machiavellian cynicism behind Boris Johnson’s ‘bumbling idiot’ act. And we’d all do well to take note.

No matter how often Johnson makes racist and offensive statements, he seems to be able to sidestep any meaningful punishment by causing the British media to melt on first sighting. And according to BuzzFeed correspondent Jane Bradley, it’s because he has a secret weapon.

He messes up his famous blond hair… on purpose.


Journalist and author Zoe Margolis was one of the first on Twitter to point out the devious PR reasoning hiding behind Johnson’s wacky hairdo:

Then, former BBC producer Jane Bradley – who now works as an investigations correspondent for BuzzFeed UK – confirmed the rumour, recounting her first-hand experience of Johnson’s conceited hair-tousling:

Critics like Owen Jones and Labour MP David Lammy have called out the former foreign secretary for hiding behind his public image of disarming toffery, also condemning the press for lapping up the act. Johnson hands out tea to journalists; he rugby-tackles children. To the fawning British media, it’s just Boris being Boris.

But who would have thought his hair would play such a vital role in deflecting criticism.

Known fact

Several members of the ‘Twitterati’ were quick to pile in on Bradley’s thread, backing up reports of Johnson’s premeditated hair ruffling:

One commenter even alleged that the former foreign secretary said ‘Showtime!’ as he scruffed up his blond mop before meeting the press:

No surprises

Many journalists in the right-wing press have tried to convince their readers that Boris’s unkempt appearance is in line with his naturally bumbling personality. And his sister, Rachel Johnson, has gone on record saying that “We have uncontrollable hair! His hair doesn’t lie flat, it never has”.

But this hasn’t washed with social media users. On reading the reports, Twitter reacted to Johnson’s hair-ruffling not so much with astonishment but apathy. In fact, it looks like Johnson’s “fraudulent” public persona is starting to wear thin:

Others described his personal brand as “amazingly obvious”:

But the real surprise on Twitter seemed to be caused exclusively by the British mainstream press and their constant fawning over such a cheap act:

Getting off scot free

Bradley’s revelation tells us what we should already know: Johnson has cultivated and weaponised his persona, right down to his haircut, to manipulate the press and gain public sympathy. The fact that so many journalists are happy to play his game is deeply worrying.

With the former foreign minister tipped to be the next leader of the Conservatives and potentially even the next prime minister, it’s time to cut through his phoney façade.

Johnson is dangerous. He is currently in contact with the likes of far-right media man Steve Bannon. His throwaway comments are legitimising racism and violence against Britain’s Muslim community.

As Novara Media’s Ash Sarkar states, “Boris Johnson is just Tommy Robinson with a posh accent”. His haircut may be harmless, but the cynical politics that lurk beneath are certainly not, and we need to hold him to account.

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Featured image via Chatham House/Flickr

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