Boriswatch gets quite a few requests for information from students, who are often using Boris or Boriswatch as a muse for their essays and even dissertations. Here – with her permission – is a Boriswatch Q and A session with Helen Clark, a journalism student from University of Lincoln.
Q: When and why was Boriswatch started?
A: Boriswatch was started in 2003 when I saw Boris on Have I Got News For You and found him intensely funny. I looked on the internet, and found virtually nothing about him. So, seeing as I could build websites, I started Boriswatch. It was originally a subsection of my personal website, but gained its own web domain in early 2004.
Q: How good has the response been to it?
A: Immense. After about 3 weeks of posting, the visitors ramped up to around 300 a week. Now, the site pulls in over 2000 visitors a week, has two contributors, and has appeared on BBC News, Sky News and ITV. We’ve had articles published in FHM, BBC News and the official Back Boris site, as well as interest from smaller organisations. And – dare I mention it – there’s even a Boriswatch-constructed Boris For Mayor song!
Q: Has Boris himself seen or commented about the website?
A: Boris has seen it and commented on it on ITV and the BBC as well as his personal website – and thanks to his wonderful team I have met up with him many times. There was even a Central News piece on Boriswatch itself, complete with a discussion with Boris on what he thinks of the site, Boriswatch t-shirts and the first mention of the legendary Boriswatch Thong. However, when the Boris team first approached me, their opening line was “Are you some sort of nutter?”
Q: Why do you think Boris appeals so much to the younger generation?
A: Well, firstly, he’s funny. Some people don’t like his privileged upbringing, but his personality and self-deprecation takes the edge off of the criticisms. Personality is a rare commodity in politics, and it’s a breath of fresh air. Because he’s funny, people listen to him. And because they listen to him, they realise that he speaks his mind, regardless of the political fallout, which is very rare in politics. And because people find he says what he thinks, they tend to agree with him! People can see that underneath the messy fair lies a very clever brain – I’ll never forget when he forgot write a Telegraph column that was due to be published the next day. It was 12.30pm, and we were in a pub in Oxfordshire. He whipped out two paper napkins from behind the bar and started writing. That article, written on the spur of the moment, was in the paper the next day, almost completely unedited. I know many people that take days to achieve the same thing…
And let me tell you – I’ve met him many times, and his appearance and personality is no act. He is the same in private as he is in person – which can be seen as a good thing or a bad thing!
Q: Why do you think he has had the ability to weather problems which would have destroyed other politicians careers?
A: It’s the Stephen Fry school of deprecation, I think. Most of the time, people actually agree with him. He speaks sense, and cheers people up. That’s a very rare quality, and people warm to him so much that minor transgressions can be forgiven. People don’t want to lose the one person that speaks sense and entertains them in politics. Yes, he gets things wrong – but when he does, he admits them, rather than cover it up like most public figures.
Q: What would you consider to be Boris’ finest moment?
A: Ooooh, good one. Well, up until now, I would have to say becoming a minister in shadow government would have to be the top achievement so far. Boris has always wanted to focus on politics, and he would have been chuffed at that.
However, the greatest achievement is get to come – becoming Mayor of London!