All Power to the Marmite People

This morning I read a piece about Boris Johnson. The Conservative Party has at last conceded, with about three weeks to go, that Boris is a necessity rather than a blonde fluffy luxury. They have allowed him out to appear in public and I expect by the end of the campaign he will be their most overused accessory.

But why is Boris so effective? Because he’s the President and CEO of Marmite People PLC. You love him or you hate him. In his case, he’s actually quite difficult to really hate – hence his elevated position within the Marmite company. But he is a very fine living example of the old adage ‘you can’t please all of the people all of the time’. He is a character of epic proportions – a cross between Nero and a hamster. He doesn’t really care unduly what he says or who he might offend. He is, above all else, his own man. And really, in the UK right now we could do with some more members of Marmite PLC.

Marmite People tend to polarise but there can be no doubt that they are highly effective in whatever field they choose. Politicians such as Blair and Thatcher were not exactly people who ran with the crowd. Jeremy Clarkson will never be described as someone desperate for public approval. Nigel Farage is not in this to make lots of friends and there are countless others from Morrissey to Russell Brand who say, and defend, what they believe with gusto.

Today we have a problem with outspoken Marmite People. They offend us. And because we have access to social media we can tell everyone we’re offended and that makes other people believe they should be offended too – because, let’s face it, most of us are not Marmite People. But if we outlaw the Marmite People what are we left with?

A couple of days ago, David Cameron gave a 10-minute speech at a factory. To do this he needed three huge autocues to read his pre-prepared statement. To modern politicians, the objective is to get your soundbite on the TV rolling news and, of course, you don’t know which soundbite that’s going to be. So, you ensure all the soundbites are delivered with no chance of a slip up. All your ‘lines to take’ must be delivered and repeated, ad nauseam.

This plasticity is overtaking our lives. We are moving towards a culture of sameness; a guarded, unspontaneous society that works on two levels – the public and the private. In private, with his friends down the pub, a man will say things that are un-PC – this is a fact. In public, with people he does not know, he will deliver his own softer, smoother lines to take. And this divide is causing more and more frustration, which at some point will boil over. Perhaps if we celebrated the Marmite People just a little bit more; accepted that we can’t always agree with everything people say, we would all be just that little bit happier.