Boris Johnson leading with showman personality makes me proud to be British - Sarah Todd

Do you agree with Sarah Todd's views on the new Prime Minister? Photo: Toby Melville/PA Wire
Do you agree with Sarah Todd's views on the new Prime Minister? Photo: Toby Melville/PA Wire

CALL me a soft touch, but when Boris Johnson spoke at the lectern outside Number 10 Downing Street on his first day as our new Prime Minister there was a lump in this correspondent’s throat.

It wasn’t a one-off, there have already been several occasions since when he’s been waxing lyrical about something or other on the television news and it’s seemed somehow disrespectful to carry on with everyday chores like emptying the dishwasher or feeding the dog.

Sarah Todd says Young Farmers are a 'breed good at talking'.

Sarah Todd says Young Farmers are a 'breed good at talking'.

Some dismiss him as a bumbling buffoon; no great orator. But for me his style is as near Churchillian as has been seen in my lifetime. Yes, Maggie could sock it to them on the speech front, but her voice never seemed to ring true to her roots as a Grantham shopkeeper’s daughter.

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Let’s face facts, we’ve been living in a political world where the bland (Mrs May) has been leading the bland (who was memorable in her cabinet?).

To have somebody with a bit of personality and a lot of hair – if only that shouty girlfriend hadn’t allegedly tried to tame it – makes me proud to be British.

Whatever the future holds, it’s a very sincere hope that rather than simply sending middle-aged women a bit giggly, Boris’s banter encourages a whole new generation to step up to the plate and have their say. Literally. Everything nowadays is so scripted and safe.

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Even the simplest work presentation runs the risk of being edited down to nothing more than a few facts and figures thanks to the ever-present politically correct brigade.

When Boris pulled out a kipper to illustrate a point at the recent Tory hustings this reporter’s heart missed a beat. I couldn’t have cared two hoots about the authenticity of his argument, it was all about his presentation. That oomph that’s been absent from our political centre stage for years.

It reminded me of The Daughter’s first go at the Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs annual county public speaking finals.

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She was the chairman to a young lad who told her in the few minutes conferring they are allowed beforehand that he’d be talking about “muck”. Blooming heck, she panicked, how was she going to introduce the by-product of farmyard animals and come up with interesting questions?

He then went on to deliver a fascinating speech about the Isle of Muck, a small island on the west coast of Scotland. How brilliant. How Boris.

His ashen-faced chairman learnt a valuable lesson not to judge a book by its cover. Furthermore, she was inspired when it came to the next year’s competition...

“What is your chosen subject?” she was asked. “Blondes,” she said, giving a cheeky flick of her Rapunzelesque mane.

The young man who had drawn the short straw of chairman blushed scarlet, only recovering himself halfway through her speech about the French breed of cattle known as the Blonde d’Aquitaine. Boris - incidentally, she waxed lyrical about her grandparents’ blonde bull of the same name – would have been proud.

Sticking with the young farmers, who did such a wonderful job last weekend helping clear the flood damage in the Dales, the county’s junior public speaking team is the current holder of the national title.

A young man called Jacob Ryder, of Farnley Estate YFC, near Harrogate, won the individual honour of best overall speaker.

It’s interesting to ponder if it’s their rural lifestyle that has made Yorkshire’s young farmers more predisposed to engaging in conversation? If you live down a long farm lane nowadays you might not see another person for a fair few days; perhaps making having a chat with any visitors a more appealing possibility?

As an aside, as a girl, hardly a day used to go by without some feed, corn or tillage rep calling. It’s a shame that faceless modern business methods now make this a rarity.

In the villages around where we live, it’s easy to spot those who haven’t lived in the country before. They carry on with whatever they are doing – be it mowing the lawn, walking the dog or washing the car – whereas proper locals stop, look up and have a natter.

On reflection, perhaps it’s the real-life social interaction of weekly meetings that makes the young farmers as a breed good at talking? Unlike so many other young people they actually meet up face-to-face and take it in turns to give a vote of thanks to any visiting speaker. Real-life human interaction.

Sitting now, taking a look through our teenage son’s mobile phone, his Instagram feed is full with girls his age and younger posing in next to no clothes.

“If you saw her in real life at school would you have a chat?” his embarrassing mother asks. “No, of course not,” he replies. “She doesn’t talk to anybody.”

So the modern young lady (the term is used loosely) is happy to send a photograph of herself in a bikini but doesn’t have the wherewithal to say “hello”. Heaven help us.

Hang on; we don’t need other worldly intervention. We’ve got Boris...

For further information about the Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs visit
Sarah Todd is a former editor of Yorkshire Life magazine.