Boris reaches the parts that other Conservatives do not reach. This seems uncontestable, as measured by his victory in the London mayoral election and the wide spread of those votes. Sure, he pisses off some Tories with his inconsistencies and stunts (let alone being a shagger extraordinaire and therefore a cad to his long-suffering wife), but he has an ability that so obviously eluded Cameron at the last election- that of being able to secure a majority from a broad constituency.
One of the things that people like about Boris is that he is not overly political - he jumps in with both feet instead of dilly-dallying on the edge like so many politicians who are terrified of upsetting even a tiny minority.
But he has made a mistake over housing benefit and exacerbated it by using imagery which is just bonkers. With next year's re-election in mind, he has made a fool of himself. Kosovo-style social cleansing, my foot! Doubtless his quick mind hadn't quite approved it for compliance purposes as he started blurting it out, and he will have to retract this in toto, and issue an apology, I'll wager.
Here is the public opinion on the matter:
"...An ICM poll in June asked: "Do you support or oppose imposing a maximum weekly limit of £400 on Housing Benefit." Support was 68% with 23% opposed. Even among Labour voters there was strong support - by 57% to 35%.
A YouGov poll in August asked: "Here are some policies the coalition government have announced in their first hundred days. For each one please say if you oppose or support it?" Among them was: "Putting a limit on housing benefit." 72% expressed support. 17% said they were opposed. Again even among Labour voters there was strong support - by 53% to 35%."
(ConHome, Harry Phibbs)
Boris still sees himself as PM after Cameron, or certainly harbours such ambition. Well, if he makes it, it will be as leader of a party other than the Tories; he cannot have improved his appeal to those outside London with this stunt.