Andy Coulson: Can Boris survive yet another crisis of his own making?

24 May 2022, 09:51 | Updated: 24 May 2022, 09:52

Boris Johnson raising a glass in newly emerged Partygate picture
Boris Johnson raising a glass in newly emerged Partygate picture. Picture: ITV
Andy Coulson

By Andy Coulson

The trouble with politics, as almost every conversation in every pub goes, is the politicians.

Lions and donkeys, lunatics and asylums, p*** ups and breweries … although there’s now strong evidence to suggest the final accusation is wide of the mark.

In the latest episode of Crisis What Crisis? I was lucky enough to explore this question of leadership, or lack of it, with LBC’s star signing Andrew Marr.

As BBC Political Editor, host of his Sunday morning show and now in his new role, Andrew was up close and personal with a number of Prime Ministers as they attempted to navigate a long list of crises.

Rather than forcing him to pick one PM as the most able crisis manager, I gave Andrew the option of creating a composite made up of all the best bits of any leader he’d met.

His answer was fascinating: “I would say Thatcher’s absolutely clear ideological sense of direction .. John Major’s humility and doggedness .. Blair’s optimism .. and Gordon Brown’s appetite for hard work.”

For each of these qualities Andrew also pointed out the weaknesses of each PM. And therein lies the truth of leadership. No-one ticks every box, no-one can be a perfect leader or anything close to it.

But those who succeed fully understand and accept the context they are operating in and put their best qualities to work.

Crisis What Crisis? with Andrew Marr

That our current Prime Minister’s Top Trump rating would be his ability to survive, doesn’t say much about his leadership.

But, as Andrew told me: “Boris is like some sort of vessel which keeps getting capsized and rights itself again and again.”

Will the Prime Minister be able to do so in the wake of the leaked party picture is the question Westminster – and Tory backbenchers – are now asking.

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Boris Johnson at Downing Street leaving party during lockdown
Boris Johnson at Downing Street leaving party during lockdown. Picture: ITV

Suddenly Sue Gray’s report has become very interesting again.

For all their struggles, none of the previous PMs Andrew referenced in our chat endured so many crises, so quickly, in relentless, accumulating succession.

And Boris uniquely is the creator of each and every one.

Sooner or later there will be one self-inflicted capsize too many.

Andy Coulson is host of the podcast and Founder of strategic advisory firm