Stanley Johnson – In Conversation

Writer, politician and former member of the European Parliament Stanley Johnson has enjoyed a varied career in public service and has now become an unlikely reality star thanks to appearances in I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here and BBC One’s The Real Marigold Hotel. Yet before this newfound television fame, Stanley led a full and active career in politics, something which it seems has been passed down in the Johnson genes. A Conservative MEP for Wight and Hampshire East from 1979 to 1984, Stanley became accustomed to the way of life on the Isle of Wight and gradually became aware of the importance of its relationship with the rest of Great Britain. Winning a 95% landslide victory at the 1979 election meant a great deal to him and this added to the incentive to serve the people of the island to the very best of his ability.

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Politics is in Stanley’s heritage which may have been an influential factor in determining the eventual careers of his offspring. His paternal Grandfather Al Kemal was one of the last interior ministers of the Ottoman Empire and was tragically assassinated during the Turkish war of independence in 1922. This devastating experience for Stanley’s family was to have a lasting effect on him and helped to form his personal view on politics which has been vital to Stanley’s career.


Beyond domestic politics, Stanley has also had a significant interest in the international concern of population growth. This has informed many of his written works including his 2009 book World Population and the United Nations: Challenge and Response and is something which he feels immensely passionate about. To him, this issue should be right at the very top of international political agenda and something that should not be taken lightly. According to statistics, by 2050 the world population is set to be around 9.5 billion and Stanley is calling for population stability at the earliest possible date to prevent a worldwide crisis in the coming years.


As a writer, Stanley has published a whole host of books on a variety of subjects but in 2017 he stepped into satirical literature when he released Kompromat: an irreverent take on the events within the world of politics in the last few years. This discussed everything from Trump to Britain’s decision to leave the EU in a slightly humorous and satirical way illustrating that Stanley isn’t scared to tackle the big issues facing Britain today – think Private Eye in literature form! This has extended his audience as a writer and now he can boast at being a master of both fiction and nonfiction. Today, over forty years after his first book  Life Without Birth: A Journey Through the Third World in Search of the Population Explosion Stanley is still producing formidable bodies of work and has hordes of intrigued fans queuing up for his talks at various festivals.


Obviously having much more of a vested interest in national politics has made the novel all the more real and gives it a sense of gravity which arguably other writers would lack. Being the father to one of the most influential politicians in Britain, Stanley has enjoyed watching Boris’s eventful rise to fame and is extremely proud of him as a writer, politician and personality. He believes that Boris’s stance on the handling of Brexit was the right one and thinks in time May’s government will grow to realise that his principles were right. Yet Stanley remains extremely proud of all four of his children and is quick to celebrate their successes: the journalist and television presenter Rachel, the politician Jo and environmentalist Leo.


In recent years, Stanley has cast aside his writing anonymity to become somewhat of a reality star phenomenon, first in 2017’s I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here before checking into this year’s BBC One’s The Real Marigold Hotel. Whilst in the jungle he made an unlikely friendship with Made In Chelsea’s Georgia Toffolo, better known as Toff. This union kept Britain entertained for three weeks in December 2017 as the pair slowly discovered how much they had in common despite the substantial age gap. They’ve both kept in touch and when Stanley was looking for a quote to promote his most recent book, Toff was quick to oblige. Yet Stanley returned the favour by appearing as a cameo in various episodes of Made In Chelsea which I imagine was something that he never thought he would be doing before entering the jungle!


Stanley’s other television contribution took him back to India after sixty years for The Real Marigold Hotel alongside eight other well known pensioners including Stephanie Beecham, The Krankies, Bob Champion, Syd Little, Susan George, Peter Dean and Selina Scott. Being the only senior citizen in the group to have previously experienced the Indian way of life, Stanley was able to make obvious comparisons between modern India and how the country was over half a century ago. On the subject of old age, Stanley confessed that this experience didn’t alter his perception of the ageing process but he still enjoyed learning what India had to offer those in the autumn of their lives.


Today at the sprightly age of seventy-eight, Stanley remains as sharp and active as ever and shows no signs of slowing down. It was a pleasure to meet and interview Stanley Johnson and wish him all the very best with the rest of his career.