Stanley Patrick Johnson, born on the 18th August 1940 in Cornwall is an author, enviromentalist and former international civil servant and politician. He is however, probably most famous for being the father of Boris Johnson, journalist, celebrity politician and occasional star of Have I Got News for You. Indeed as one journalist saw fit to remark, "once you have met Stanley Johnson, you realise that Boris has, all these bumbling years, simply been doing a passable impression of his old man. The similarities in appearance and voice and manner are unnerving."
Stanley is also notable for his cosmopolitan origins. His mother was half French and his father, although born in Bournemouth, was half Turkish and a quarter Swiss. Indeed his father originally bore the name of Osman Ali, and was the son of Ali Kemal, the interior minister for the last Turkish Sultan Abdulhamid. At one point Ali Kemal's ministerial duties required him to sign an arrest warrant for Kemel Attaturk. This may well have been why Ali Kemal was set upon by a pro-Attaturk mob at Izmit whilst he was having a shave, beaten to death and his body stuck in a tree. Given the fate of his father Osman perhaps wisely elected to stay in Britain, changed his name to Wilfred Johnson and eventually bought a farm on Exmoor.
Education and Career
Stanley was educated at Ravenswood School in Devon and Sherborne School in Dorset, where he was Head of School and described by his headmaster as one of the only two boys he ever taught who were clearly destined for greatness. (The other was David Sheppard.) From Sherborne he attended Exeter College, Oxford, winning the Stapeldon Scholarship in Classics. Whilst at Oxford he won the Newdigate Prize for Poetry in 1962 for a poem about the ascent of Dunkery Beacon on Exmoor and also undertook the Marco Polo Expedition with Tim Severin and Michael de Larrabeiti, travelling by a motorcycle from Oxford to Afghanistan via Venice.
Awarded a Harkness Fellowship to the United States in 1963 Stanley later worked for the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, before returning to Britain where he worked for the Conservative Party as their first environmental desk officer under the watchfull eye of Reginald Maudling. From London he went to work in the European Commission as Head of the Prevention of Pollution division from 1973 to 1979. Between 1979 and 1984 he was the Conservative MEP for East Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and remains proud of the fact that his majority of 95,000 was the second largest in the United Kingdom. Whilst an MEP he served as the Vice Chairman of the Parliament's Committee on Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection, but in 1984 he returned to work for the European Commission firstly as Senior Adviser to Director General Environment and then as Director of Energy Policy, before retiring in 1994.
Stanley appears to have been sure of his politics at an early age. At the age of ten he wrote to Winston Churchill
to congratulate him on becoming Prime Minister for the second time. Churchill actually wrote back, and the letter was intercepted by his headmaster who called him in to his office. A somewhat apprehensive Stanley was relieved to hear his headmaster say
"I see you have a letter from the Prime Minister. Congratulations Johnson, on being a Conservative.
" To which Stanley of course replied "Well, is there anything else to be, sir?"'
He is of the opinion that the two greatest threats to the world are overpopulation
, and despite or perhaps because of his experience working for the EU bureaucracy he is opposed to both the Single European Currency
and the European Constitution
As noted above he was a Conservative MEP for five years, and since retiring from the European Commission he has made a number of attempts to be adopted as the Conservative candidate for a number of Westminster candidates, operating under the "conviction that the Labour Government, under Tony Blair
, is not fit to run this country." He was finally adopted as the PPC for Teignbridge
and constested that seat in the General Election of 2005.
Despite the support of his son Boris (Who turned up to speak in favour of his father, arguing that "We are committed as a party to providing the best possible care for the elderly so what could be more appropriate than sending my father to a comfortable retirement home in Westminster?") he failed to get elected. Stanley later claimed that winning the votes of 21,593 people "was better than a slap in the face with a wet fish" and thanked all those who had supported him "including any who may have mistaken me for Boris".
He has however spent most of his life working on international environmental issues and is regarded as soemthing of an expert on the problems of the global population. In recognition of his enviromental work in 1983 he received the RSPCA Richard Martin Award for Outstanding Services to animal welfare and in 1984 he received the Greenpeace Award for Outstanding Services to the Environment.
Stanley has been married twice. Firstly to the painter Charlotte Johnson-Wahl who was the mother of four of his children, Rachel, Leo, and Jo and of course the famous Boris, and secondly to Jennifer Kidd producing two further two children, Julia and Maximilian.
He now writes a weekly column for The Guardian and was most recently hired to host The Last Word discussion prgramme on the new digital television channel More4. He continues to manage the family farm on Exmoor and is a trustee of Plantlife International and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, as well as being an environmental adviser to Jupiter Asset Management.
He should probably not be confused with the Stanley D. Johnson who is the founder of 3 Eyed Goat: Vegan-Communist International.
- Life without Birth: A Journey Through the Third World in Search of the Population Explosion (Heinemann, 1970)
- Population Policy for Britain (Conservative Political Centre, 1972)
- The Green Revolution (Hamilton, 1972)
- The Politics of Environment (T Stacey, 1973)
- The Population Problem (David and Charles, 1973)
- Pollution Control Policy of the EEC (Graham and Trotman, 1978)
- Caring for the Environment: A Policy for Conservatives (Conservative Political Centre, 1981)
- The Pollution Control Policy of the EEC (Kluwer Law International, 1983)
- Antarctica: The Last Great Wilderness (Weidenfeld and Nicholson)1985,
- The Earth Summit (Kluwer Law International, 1993)
- World Population - Turning the Tide (Kluwer Law International, 1994)
- The Politics of Population: Cairo, 1994 (Earthscan, 1995)
- The Environmental Policy of the European Community (Kluwer Law International, 1995)
- Icecap: A Dramatic and Novel Approach to Solving the Problem of Global Warming (Cameron May, 1999)
Stanley Johnson has also published a number of thrillers, at least nine according to some sources, of which the following appear or be currently available;
- The Urbane Guerilla (1975)
- The Doomsday Deposit (1979)
- The Marburg Virus (1982)
- Tunnel (1984)
- The Commissioner (1987)
- Dragon River (1989)
- Tim Healy Report
- Tim Adams, Move over, Boris The Observer November 7, 2004
- Stanley Johnson's Weblog at
- Stanley's biography at http://www.plantlife.org.uk/
- Bibliography largely extracted from amazon.co.uk