Boris on wire: Reactions from the panel...

Daisy BlacklockYouGovLabs writer
August 08, 2012, 5:01 PM GMT+0

It was quite a vision, wasn’t it: the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, suspended from a 45m-high (150ft) zip-wire for near-on ten minutes, after the wire he was ‘trying out’ stopped zipping and left him dangling above a bemused crowd of onlookers in Victoria Park.

Seeing a politician of Johnson’s stature zip-wiring, let along stuck in the act, is a none too-common experience for the people of Great Britain, it can be safely said.

We suspected that panellists taking in part in YouGov Labs might have some thoughts to impart on this snapshot – turns out we were right.

Inviting you to react to the image of ‘Boris on Wire’ in Labs, the most prominent themes among our participants' comments were (accompanied by quotes representative of the things they said):

  • “A farce”, “a comedian”, “a fool” – a sentiment expressed in many of the comments. Participants’ remarks in this vein ranged from calling Boris a “buffoon” or a joke (some feeling the zip-wire incident was well within character), to concerns that it would impact how the country was perceived by others, to a general feeling of ‘embarrassment’:

“Shows him for the buffoon he is” James, Glasgow

“Perfect symbolism of his bluster and vacuous approach to other people's lives” Anon

“Poor, it made Great Britain look like monkeys” Steve, Basingstoke

  • “Only Boris” – As a counterpoint to the negativity of the former theme, a number of participants in this group remarked that only the mayor would a) find themselves in such a situation b) be able to survive it without a dint to his reputation:

“That’s Boris. Real. The only real politician we have” JN

“It could only happen to Boris. But then Boris Johnson has bought London alive. Who else would have done the 'wire trip'. Yes London is lucky to have Boris as Mayor” Maurice, Camberley

“Only Boris could achieve this – anyone else would have been hung out to dry. Somehow he manages to turn it into a 'Borisism'” Disorganised1, Coventry

  • “Amused!” – While many of you simply found it funny. One panellist commenter even remarked that it was a good show of typical British humour:

“Funny, 'Mr Bean' like” Nes, Wolverhampton

“A giggle” Anon

“Amusing, but really a distraction from the real issues facing London” Andrew, Leicester

  • Or, a publicity stunt? Some of you speculated over of the positive PR this incident may have generated (echoing, perhaps, David Cameron’s own observation that the escapade was “a triumph” for Boris); a contrast to others who queried whether the whole thing was staged, or a set-up:

“Cross out Conservative and write in Daredevil. I wouldn't be surprised if Boris planned this stunt to go wrong. … Peel back that Conservative thatched roof and underneath you have the machinery that can take on the world!” Ben, Hayes

“It was alleged to have been a mishap; it could have been yet another tasteless publicity stunt” F. Saffron Walden

  • With equal prominence, a number of you were of the view that at least the Mayor had “had a go”. For some this was shorthand for Boris not being stuffy or stilted politician, but a ‘real’ person:

“A bit buffoonish but shows he's willing to get stuck in!” Anon

“The image is not wonderful but full marks to Boris for 'having a go'” Iris, Warwickshire

  • “Should have left him up there” – others were of the far less forgiving view that Boris should have been left up on the zip wire, to reduce his political efficacy:

“He needs to be stuck. He is out of harm’s way then” Anon

“It's a shame they let him down”

  • But then, equally, a handful of those of you who took part labelled him a ‘national treasure’, or a ‘man of the people’, for his ample ability to deal with the zip-wire incident:

“We need more characters like Boris!” Martin, Ilkley

“Amusing and further re-enforces the carefully managed image of Boris as likeable and approachable despite his background” Anon

  • “Unfortunate”– the last theme to arise was a flicker of sympathy and concern for Boris’s zip-wire plight:

“Poor Boris, I feel sorry for his mishap” G, London

“Unfortunate” ME, London

Got any thoughts on Boris' unzippy zip-wire moment?

Share them in the comments section below: