Politics is a vicious game and 2017 has offered up many losers. The Conservative Party’s General Election campaign, and in particular its Manifesto, was the worst in decades, and as Joint Chiefs of Staff to the PM and those behind the offending document and approach, no one’s reputation and career could have suffered more than the swiftly sacked Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill. Another contender, and perhaps a surprising one, is SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon. Many expected Brexit would give the Scottish Independence movement renewed purpose but instead, support for Independence is down, and – as the General Election demonstrated – so is support for the SNP. Finally, we should give an honourable mention to the so called “Centrist Dads”, the coalition of mainly Blairites and Lib Dems who have all year fought for the return of moderate, centre left politics, and have got precisely nowhere.
But Field’s pick for Loser of the Year was, in the end, pretty clear. Boris Johnson’s image has been in steady decline over the past 12 months. While he was once the out and out favourite to replace Theresa May, Brand Boris is now rather tainted. Johnson has always been a schemer, but in the past he managed to hide it behind the front of the bumbling, likeable bloke called Boris. That image has gone now. The way he positioned himself on Brexit was, rightly or wrongly, interpreted as politically strategic rather than principled, and constant speculation about his engineering coups against the PM has cemented the idea that deep down, Johnson is a politician like any other – but less able to focus on the necessary detail.
Furthermore, Boris’ gaffe prone nature is a lot more of a problem as Foreign Secretary than it was as Mayor of London. In previous years, his gaffes were things like getting stuck on a zipwire while waving British flags. How endearing. This year, his gaffes have been things like worsening the situation for a British prisoner in Iran. How appalling.
Boris has always been marmite. But whether you love him or hate him, 2017 has clearly not been his year.