DUNCAN BARKES Can we take charismatic BoJo seriously?

How would you feel if the next leader of the Conservative Party was a blond bombshell?

Sadly, I do not have a female buxom beauty in mind. No, I refer instead to a man whose charisma and carefully crafted irreverence is certainly charming members of the Tory Party in their droves: Boris Johnson.

A recent survey of Tory activists reveals that almost a third back Boris to succeed David Cameron as leader of their party.

That’s right, BoJo. He who was recently returned to power as mayor of London, and who beat foreign secretary William Hague, education secretary Michael Gove, and former leadership challenger, David Davis, as the person that grassroots Tories want to replace David Cameron when he quits or is on the receiving end of the inevitable fatal stab in 
the back.

It cannot have been a good day for George Osborne when these findings were published, as he only received a paltry two per cent of support from members. Given that it has been widely speculated George would like to one day lead his party I suspect he was downing a few large ones behind closed doors at Number 11 that night.

I recently read a fascinating book about Boris by a former journalist colleague of his.

BoJo certainly comes across as an ambitious, competitive and highly intelligent bloke, but it is hard to make a call on how serious he is as a politician. One could be forgiven, I believe, for thinking he is only in politics for the power and prestige, and that entering the political arena in order to make the world a better place might not have been his primary motive.

Despite this Boris certainly captures hearts and minds. I was able to witness first-hand how the public react to him during the London elections earlier this year.

He possesses that easy-going ability to connect with people from all walks of life. Even those who were opposed to his Conservative politics still shook his hand or gave him a hug. That is the kind of magic that every politician across the land dreams of having.

I am pretty sure that he gained many votes in London simply by sheer force of his personality.

Far greater minds than mine have tried to work out why BoJo appeals to so many people.

I am told that some women find him irresistible, while blokes find him a laugh and can imagine enjoying a pint with him. Boris is part eccentric, part comedian, part opportunist and part genius. He’s both intelligent and canny and knows how to combine both extremely effectively in his quest to get his own way.

The fact that nearly a third of Tory activists want him to succeed Dave rather suggests he is getting it too.

And of course if Boris does replace Dave then there is every chance he could become prime minister.

The question, of course, is whether or not he has got what it takes to be a world leader as opposed to a clown and a breath of fresh air in a sea of uninspiring political dullards.

I think he has much work to do before he is taken seriously. Time will tell.