Don't compare Boris Johnson to Captain Mainwaring
- Credit: BBC
I must take exception to Phil Green’s letter “Bodge job” (TNE # 214) comparing the prime minister to beloved sitcom character Captain Mainwaring of Dad’s Army.
The Home Guard leader may have at times been “blustering, incompetent, pompous and inept”, but he was also patriotic, courageous, inclusive and humane, not to mention capable of inspiring true loyalty and affection from those under his command. With none of the latter traits being evident in our current PM, the fictional Captain Mainwaring can be seen as a more complex and believable character.
Indeed, while he projects the image of a provincial conservative, in his unguarded moments Mainwaring often lets slip that he relishes a time after the war when people like himself – those who work for a living – will run the country, rather than aristocrats like Sergeant Wilson.
It is no stretch of the imagination to picture him voting for Labour’s vision of the New Jerusalem in 1945, though he would have undoubtedly kept this to himself.
Would that the clownish Johnson had the character of Mainwaring. Firstly, Mainwaring is no coward. There are episodes where he faced live ammunition, with no fridge to hide in when the going got tough.
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He has compassion even for his enemy. Look no further than the brave efforts to rescue a Luftwaffe airman from a clock tower.
Blustering, maybe; incompetent and inept, sometimes, but then again when he has to think on his feet, he is able to pull off surprising coups, like when during an exercise, capturing an enemy headquarters. Pompous, of course, but he deflates actual arrogance in other people.
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And remember, he has socially risen from quite humble origins as the son of a tailor to being a bank manager, in charge of money and at least three people. His origin may be even more humble, as Jones remembers him being the son of a workman’s tailor, who once sold him a pair of dungarees, but “the gusset fell out”.
Mainwaring’s rise is due to talent and perseverance, in contrast to Wilson, who was born to privilege and through the patronage of a series of uncles has risen only as far as chief clerk.
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