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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 December 2004, 19:25 GMT
Living in Boris's shadow, by his dad
By Ben Davies
BBC News political reporter

Boris Johnson's dad Stanley has expressed fears the recent upset in his son's career could hit his own political chances.

Stanley Johnson said that when he was selected as the Tory candidate for Teignbridge his son was shadow arts spokesman.

Stanley Johnson
Stanley Johnson hopes to win Teignbridge off the Lib Dems
Sacked by Michael Howard in the wake of an extra-marital affair Boris is now on the backbenches - when he's not editing the Spectator magazine.

As his father Stanley put it: "I should point out that this is something of a rollercoaster of a situation because when I went into this game which I did in May or June this year Boris was absolutely on the way up.

"He had his position on the frontbench as the shadow arts spokesman so you could say I was caught up in his slipstream. Well maybe I am going to be caught up in a movement in the opposite direction now because Boris for reasons I needn't go into is no longer on the frontbench.

I was able to say that my father wasn't in Henley, he was in heaven as far as I knew
Stanley Johnson
"I think it's a swings and roundabouts situation here, my own view is that it's best if I play to my strengths, that I've had 25 years in politics, a 45 year career in the World Bank, in the EU and in the European Parliament, and have written 20 books and possibly it makes sense to say 'well look yes I'm Boris's dad but I'm also someone in my own right'."

And therein lies Stanley Johnson's problem - he says he is very proud of all his children but having been an MEP, an environmental campaigner, a novelist to name just a few of his occupations, he has the unique situation in politics of being overshadowed by one of his sons.

Johnson senior has even been asked if his "father" is going to campaign for him in the Teignbridge constituency.

"I was able to say that my father wasn't in Henley, he was in heaven as far as I knew and has been for quite a few years."

Ministerial ambitions?

Mind you the tide could easily turn. It seems Stanley Johnson has an eye on the frontbench, maybe even government.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson has something of a gift for publicity
"If there was a question of being a shadow spokesman on the environment of some sort then I'd be happy to do that," he says.

Mr Johnson is also willing to help "unscramble" much of the European legislation the UK has "unwisely" signed up to over last 20 years.

"So I expect there are things I could do at the great age of 64 for the Conservative Party were they in opposition or in government."

Supportive

Not that his son is to be left languishing on the backbenches while Johnson senior scales ministerial heights - well not if Dad has anything to do with it.

Politics brings people together - a bit like church
Ann Cryer
"I'd like to see Boris come bouncing back and I can give him what help I can give, I'm not planning to have a long political career here.

"I don't think I'm going to queer Boris's pitch - there's not going to be a case of someone having to choose between the elder Johnson and the younger Johnson, as it were."

Johnson the elder meanwhile has made a lot of supportive comments as his son found himself falling foul of allegations of having an extra-marital affair.

Almost unimaginable

He says that Boris would do the same for him - before adding that it was "an almost unimaginable scenario at this stage in my life".

Ann Cryer
Mrs Cryer has been MP for her husband's old constituency since 1997
In any case, if they are both successful at the next general election they will have managed what is probably a first - a father following his son into the Commons.

Normally it is children and grandchildren following parents and in some cases it has been wives following their husbands.

Keighley member Ann Cryer also occupies a unique situation in Westminster - her husband Bob was a Labour MP for many years until his untimely death in a car crash in 1994.

Parliamentary families
Labour's Mark Fisher son of Tory MP Nigel Fisher
Nicholas Soames son of Thatcher minister Christopher Soames, grandson of Winston Churchill
International Development Secretary Hilary Benn, son of Tony Benn
Chief Whip Hilary Armstrong, daughter of Labour MP Ernest Armstrong
Labour chairman Ian McCartney, son of MP Hugh McCartney
Tory MP Bernard Jenkin, son of Thatcher minister Patrick Jenkin
Francis Maude, son of Thatcher minister Angus Maude
Hornchurch MP John Cryer, son of Ann and Bob Cryer
Arts Minister Estelle Morris, daughter of Labour MP Charles Morris
Ex-Tory minister Douglas Hogg, son of Lord Hailsham
The year she won her seat, 1997, her son John was elected MP for Hornchurch.

Mrs Cryer stresses that both she and John were political in their own right - she being elected a councillor in 1962 at the age of 22.

He was active in politics at his polytechnic before going on to work for the left-wing Tribune magazine.

"Politics brings people together - a bit like church. I met Bob at the Labour conference in 1961 - the same week we both met Dennis Skinner. I wasn't there looking for a husband I was fascinated by politics."

Mrs Cryer says she worries that she cramps her son's style.

"I'm not so sure I'd like my mother sitting behind me when I was working!"

Help or hindrance?

Tory MP and former minister Douglas Hogg, is the son of Lord Hailsham - a former lord chancellor.

Mr Hogg said he believed his interest in public life was aroused by having a father in politics.

But it was a help and a hindrance having such an eminent parent - on the one hand it made it easier to get an interview with a local Conservative Association but on the other he was always measured against his father's reputation.

Mr Hogg said there used to be many more families in the Commons adding "I think there will be fewer and fewer as time goes on."

Less nagging?

He blamed that on the increasing difficulty in undertaking other activities - in his case he is a barrister. He added that financially politics was not that "attractive".

Nicholas Winterton
Sir Nicholas was elected in 1971, his wife in 1983
Husband and wife members Nicholas and Ann Winterton have adjoining constituencies - his being Macclesfield, hers is Congleton.

He said there were advantages to the taxpayer because they are able to share a car between their seats and Westminster.

Both of them being MPs also means there is a mutual understanding of the different pressures and demands of the job.

"It eases her concern and nagging and vice versa," said Sir Nicholas.




SEE ALSO:
Boris backlash begins
15 Nov 04 |  UK Politics
MP apologises for Bigley comment
16 Oct 04 |  UK Politics
How Boris said sorry to Liverpool
20 Oct 04 |  UK Politics
Boris Johnson gets frontbench job
06 May 04 |  UK Politics


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