"HAVE you ever used a mop before?” Naga Munchetty asked Boris Johnson , as the pair contemplated footage of the butter-headed man-child nudging a puddle around the floor of a flooded Specsavers branch in Matlock.

“This is why people perhaps don’t think you’re relatable,” the BBC presenter observed, before grilling the PM on privilege, his sketchy family life and what precisely he thinks it is which makes him “relatable” to the great British public.

Week two of the campaign hasn’t exactly been a public relations triumph for the once and future prime minister. Tired of the choreographed unspontaneity of the Tory party’s photo ops, ITV’s Joe Pike ambushed the PM during a visit to the flood-hit communities in south Yorkshire.

The appearance of Swing Low Sweet Gusset in a black-quilted overcoat was met with cries of “you took your time!” and “what took you so long?” from hecklers at the relief effort. Footage from the Tory leader’s meet-and-greets with some of the 1700 affected residents were scarce better. Theresa May never enjoyed people. But BoJo, we were told, is a campaigner to his untied bootstraps, a politician who is unruffled rubbing shoulders with the great unwashed.

If you sank the Tory spin, you might imagine Johnson would be a natural with the half-drowned granny who has lost everything and a consoling shoulder for the exhausted volunteer to rest their weary head on. His charms seem to have deserted him in Fishlake and Stainforth this week. Confronted politely but directly by locals about local challenges, Johnson looked like he’d swallowed his own tongue and was praying that the river gods send a second surge of water up the Don to wash him to safety.

But the thing is, many Britons do find Boris Johnson relatable, or at least, relatable enough to be prime minister. John Curtice is already calling this election. If the terrapin sage of the electoral cycle is correct, the only real question this poll will answer is whether or not Boris Johnson turns in a Tory majority or finds himself – once again – trying to steer Brexit through a deadlocked parliament.

You may not agree. You may well think Boris Johnson is a bletherskite. You may see him as a vain and vaporous weeble of a man, a shallow, lazy, quibbling, shifting, calculating gasbag. You may rightly think he has no business being prime minister, and it ought to be a matter of everlasting shame both to the Tory party and to the UK that someone so calculably unfit to execute his public duties has been entrusted with high office. Nothing that happened this week will disabuse anyone who dislikes Johnson of their critical analysis.

But this week’s emotional paralysis in the face of suffering punters was an entirely on-brand bit of un-empathy from the PM. Here are the figures: 99% of the public have heard of Johnson; 34% have a positive view of him; and 48% take a negative view. Baby boomers are his biggest fans, and men are more enthusiastic than women. Millennials are generally less fond. At the start of this election campaign, voters rated Johnson as decisive and strong – but also out of touch, untrustworthy and dishonest. Folk are sharply divided on whether he is authentic, or whether his cultivated public persona is – well – cultivated. According to YouGov, gusto for Johnson correlates with enthusiasm for Blackburn Rovers, the Audi RS2 wanker-chariot and low-alcohol tippling on Shandy Bass cooking lager.

And when characters like John Bercow slag off the likes of David Cameron and Boris Johnson as “born to rule”, we all know what he means. The ambition. The apparent lack of self-reflection or self-consciousness. The complacency, lack of social empathy or policy imagination. These gilded kids dreamed of being prime minister – and golly gosh, they got their wishes. What they hope to use the office for always seems secondary, contingent and tactical. They know they want to be prime minister. Often, they haven’t worked up much clue about what they want to be prime minister for.

But the thing about being born to rule is it only comes off if other people believe you’re born to rule too. Bubble and pop with as much plooky ambition as you like when you’re in Sixth Form, you don’t get to turn the front door into Downing Street without convincing other people to believe you’ve been fashioned by nature for power.

It is all very well – and very easy – to put the boot into these Tory prime ministers as careless and carefree scions of privilege, who seem to believe the state of the nation is their own plaything and politics just a backdrop for their personal melodramas and the court politics of their narrow circle of friends. They do.

But Naga Munchetty’s question about Johnson’s relatability implies the public want the occupant of Number 10 to be a mop impresario. It implies the electorate are just waiting to install the common man or woman in office. I’m sorry, but the idea a majority of the Great British Public wants “someone like me” in Number 10 almost certainly isn’t true.

All cultures fetishise particular characters. In Scotland, I’d argue, no figure is the object of more fascination or more indulged than the post-industrial west of Scotland hard man. A preoccupation with him too often crowds out not only all of Scotland’s women, but voices from beyond the banks of the Clyde.

But in England, the dominant cultural logic is different, as are the characters it fetishises. And with his piffle-paffle spray of Latin tags, Johnson and key figures in his cabinet perfectly occupy one of these characters. It is easy to laugh at writers like Iain Martin who argue that Johnson lights up Tory campaign rooms. But it is true. They love the whole Oxbridge schtick. So do considerable chunks of the English electorate who’ve never set foot near a quadrangle or a rowing squad.

David Cameron’s background was often depicted as a ball and chain for the supposedly “modernising” Tory PM. Installing a cast of old Etonians in cabinet hardly seems the stuff modern Britain is made of, even if you make a bit of an effort at including more women and more ethnic minorities. When in office, the suggestion he was – to borrow one of my sister’s phrases – “too posh to function” clearly riled Cameron. But Johnson seems less troubled by the same dig, and in cynical political terms, his indifference to these kinds of arguments seems eminently justified. Neither man would have a sniff of high office but for their backgrounds.

By way of an object lesson, take the strange popularity of the love child of Postman Pat and Wednesday Addams -–Jacob Rees-Mogg. Yeoman Tories like Andrew Bridgen precisely capture the Very British cultural cringe which gives Mogg his improbable social cachet. When Rees-Mogg suggested that “whatever the fire brigade said”, it was “common sense” to leave the burning Grenfell Tower, Bridgen defended him on the basis that “Jacob is a leader. He’s an authority figure and what he has failed to realise is that in a life-threatening and stressful situation most people will defer to the advice of an authority figure, be that someone from the fire authority or the police, and not come to their own conclusions.”

It is difficult to escape the glaring social subtext of this analysis – from both Rees-Mogg and Bridgen – that “clever people” don’t end up living in a high-rise flat in North London. But if you look at the world through Bridgen’s eyes, then their social polish makes your Rees-Moggs and your Johnsons the natural party of government’s natural leaders. It’s a version of the prosperity gospel, which says wealth is proof-positive god is on your side.

This was a tiny vignette from a long campaign, but it captures a social logic which this Conservative government effortlessly mobilises and which all of the attacks on their mop-handling skills and out-of-touchness will not dislodge. Even if Johnson had shown himself to be a steady and effective elbow with the squeegee, it’d have done his political brand no good. If you vote Johnson, you vote for him, lies, old-school ties and all.