I first met Boris Johnson in 1997, when he was a parliamentary candidate in Clwyd South. One quirky fact I sometimes use is that I represent a seat where Boris was once a candidate. In 1997 Dyffryn Tanat, (where Owain Glyndwr lived) and is now part of Montgomeryshire was part of Clwyd South in 1997! Anyway Boris came to speak in Welshpool and I was deputed to taxi him to Shrewsbury Station. At the function Boris was the 'act' we know. But once in the car he transformed. Serious; informed; knowledgable and as non-pompous as it's possible to be. I liked him.
I'd long been enthused by his writing for the Spectator, which I've read for over 40 yrs. Its anarchic, hugely creative and readable (like his book on Churchill). He's a man with great imagination. I thought his interest in politics was a great loss to journalism. Eventually he was elected, but (unwisely in my view) carried on as a journalist, writing for the Telegraph and becoming Editor of the Spectator - where sales increased to record levels. But alas his journalistic flourishes, (and pressure from tight deadlines) led to a gross mistake. Might have been acceptable to a journalist but not a Shadow Minister. Not his finest hour and bit of a setback.
Next big move was to take on Ken Livingstone to be Mayor of London, a strongly Labour city. Only Boris could have won it for the Tories. And he did it twice. No-one else could have done it. During his tenure, London flourished. He showed himself to be a leader. And he quickly emerged as a leader when he joined the Leave campaign. Seems to me he's a leader, and a winner.
Part of the Boris appeal has been his anarchic approach to interviews, and life in general. But in my view it's always been an act. It's just his way of connecting. And it works. He is just not like that in real life. He's calm and considered. Recently I've seen him described as right wing. That's like calling me right wing! Boris is progressive and actually a Europhile. It's just that he's no supporter of the EU. That how I'd like to be described.
I've always found him to be courteous - a character trait which served him well in TV Debates when he was subject to personal attacks. Kept his cool. I accept that there are many people who do not like the Boris style. That's ok. It's what may lead to failure to reach No 10. But I rather like him. But must repeat I need to see the field, and hear what they have to say, before declaring for any candidate to take over from the outstanding David Cameron in October.