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Will “Boris is a racist” really fly?

It looks like those advising and supporting Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, are determined to blackguard his prospective Tory opponent Boris Johnson by any means necessary.

First we had Doreen Lawrence (who has been cultivated by race-activists over the last decade to the point of co-option) wheeled out in The Guardian, to wave her son’s shroud and say:

Boris Johnson is not an appropriate person to run a multi-cultural city like London. Think of London, the richness of London, and having someone like him as mayor would destroy the city’s unity. He is definitely not the right person to even be thinking to put his name forward.

Those people that think he is a lovable rogue need to take a good look at themselves, and look at him. I just find his remarks very offensive. I think once people read his views, there is no way he is going to get the support of any people in the black community.

A classic piece of noughties argumentation: a champion victim finds him offensive. He should not be considered. But note also the visual metaphor: “look at themselves… look at him”.

This morning The Voice carried the news that: “London’s mayor Ken Livingstone will next week issue a formal apology for his city’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade”.

When devils will the blackest sins put on,
They do suggest at first with heavenly shows,

It may just be coincidence, but I prophesy that Ken will not be shy of inviting other mayoral candidates to do the same, hinting that they if they will not, it is because they are racists who secretly approve of slavery. We know where Boris stands. In the logical, historical, position. Nonetheless, officials from such organisations as Blink (the 1990 trust), and Operation Black Vote (which is supposed to be a non-partisan organisation encouraging electoral participation), have already described him as “a hardcore racist” and “bigoted”.

I suppose that we should not expect much better of professional agitators and their stooges. Boris is presented as a cartoon racist – using racial and class stereotypes. “Look! he’s blond, blue-eyed, with an Etonian accent” they are saying. “He’s cavalier about things right-on people feel strongly about, wickedly western, rational and white.”

That is a narrative calculated to appeal to their fellow quangocrats and positive-discriminators, beneficiaries of the Crimson Newt’s largesse, and to buttress them in their self-righteousness. But it also projects contemptuously low expectations of London’s black people in general, treating them as an ignorant client class who will lap up the most shameless propaganda. It is to be hoped London’s general public, black and white, will take the man as they find him, not as he is painted by an overt attempt to organise ‘racial loyalty’ at the polls worthy of the BNP.

If Londoners are urged vote for Boris or against him on the basis of the colour of their skins rather than their individual consciences, it isn’t Boris dividing London on racial grounds, it is those doing the urging. I do not know if they are, but the thought that a significant number Londoners might be sufficiently ghettoised to follow the call is thoroughly depressing.

20 comments to Will “Boris is a racist” really fly?

  • From Blink:

    He has even claimed the British Empire ended slavery and blamed “native rulers” for inventing slavery.

    And that would be factually incorrect how exactly? Slavery has probably existed as long as mankind has existed and I have been to Ghana and seen the pens used by the African slavers to deliver their captives to the purchasers on the coast.

    And whose navy do Blink think actually suppressed the slave trade in the end? Arab? Moroccan? American? Spanish?

  • WalterBowsell

    Jesus H. Christ in manacles hasn’t this slave trade apology card worn out it’s welcome yet. Boris should start dating a member of Doreen Lawrence’s black community (that’s another thing – the phrase not the people – whose welcome should have been worn out). Bonus right-on points if it’s a male member of said community.

  • Midwesterner

    Johnathan has the right response.

    It is worth dwelling on the contempt in these campaigns for the intelligence of the voters they assume they are manipulating.

    Attacking these tactics for the insulting degradations they are, is the only defense that doesn’t just keep regrouping for each new claim. These people are attempting to trick ‘their’ voters into voting as they are instructed. Paradoxically, they assume that that certain voters will obey their superior’s directions.

  • Steevo

    Since the mayor is visibly righteous in what has to be more than mere symbolism issuing such an apology, he should also recompense all descendants of slaves to prove he’s serious. In the US advocates estimate this solution well over a trillion but we’re a much bigger country committing the most heinous racism known. I’m sure Mr. Livingston would agree to that and not require an unfair redemption.

  • RAB

    Boris doesn’t have the opportunities he used to.
    Not being editor of the Spectator and exposed to all that, eager work experience totty and all.
    I could set him up with a guy called Sapphire who hails from these parts though. Just for campaign purposes you understand, as long as we are talking fooling the public here.
    He is Black, camper than Boy George and twice as funny.
    If they anounced their partnership, they would storm it!
    Dick Whittington all over again!
    Hell I think Sapphire even has a cat from Red Dwalf costume at the back of the wardrobe.

  • Perry

    An informed guess is that the Royal Navy lost about 50,000 men to disease while supressing the slave trade off the coast of west Africa.

  • Julian Taylor

    Absolutely brilliant! Well done Ken Livingstone I say, a truly brilliant move and one you could have timed better to coincide with the William Wilberforce movie, but nonetheless well done.

    Of course you may have just provoked a colossal class action for African Americans to sue you as Mayor of a city that has just admitted to tearing their ancestors away from their kith and kin and transporting them under horrifying conditions to work on plantations. But never mind you’ve got all that lovely money you stole earned from Londoners’ council tax payments to pay for the punitive damages. Shame we won’t be able to host the 2012 Olympics, but I bet its worth it for the nice rosy self-righteous feeling you must be experiencing.

  • Since the mayor is visibly righteous in what has to be more than mere symbolism issuing such an apology, he should also recompense all descendants of slaves to prove he’s serious.

    Tell you what, if the government in the UK in 2007 can apologise for slavery, why not the government in Ghana? And when will the Italian government apologise for the Roman occupation of Britain? A true carnival of absurdities.

  • Anybody who might be taken in by the “Boris is a racist” line would never have voted for him anyway.

  • Nick M

    ResidentAlien is correct.

    Slavery apologies have really jumped the shark. Who should we apologize to anyway?

    Check this out for a real dose of moonbattery.

  • Julian Taylor

    Nick M, that is brilliant!

    Versailles Refund $25 trillion ($26 billion that Britain extorted from defeated German government after World War I, with interest, compounded annually, an unfair and punitive settlement that was one of the primary causes of World War II.)

    He refers to ‘The Nazis had to pay off the Jews’ but now demands that Britain pay off the Nazis as well? It seems that that’s the beauty of being a barking moonbat, in that your facts never have to fit the logical reasoning of others.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Johnathan has the right response.

    I did not leave a comment.

    For what it is worth, I know Boris a bit and the idea of his holding such views is absurd.

  • J

    And that would be factually incorrect how exactly?

    Well, to be fair, we ended only the transatlantic slave trade (not slavery in general), a trade which we had started. Certainly many others, of various races and countries, had joined in enthusiastically when they realised that selling their fellow human beings was profitable, and all the more profitable if you could transport them long distances to market, rather than just drag them back over the hill to your valley.

    The transatlantic slave trade was horrific not merely for being a slave trade, but for being one on a vast industrial scale, one where the slaves were treated unusually badly, one where the traders got unusually rich, one that was entirely one-sided between the slave owning tribe and the enslaved tribe, one where the enslaved tribe had no cultural or geographic tie of any kind to the enslaving tribe, and one that took place at the same time as the people instigating it were banging on endlessly about their recent discovery of liberty and freedom and reason and the enlightenment, and about generally how much better they were than everyone else.

    So, all in all, to excuse the transatlantic slave trade by pointing out that in all cultures for thousands of years there have been slaves and slave trading, is a bit like excusing the holocaust (“Hello Godwin!”) by saying that there’s nothing new about people killing each other.

    All of which doesn’t alter the fact that the blink article was a load of rubbish, and that Boris is an excellent chap.

  • J, and where exactly was anyone “excusing” the Atlantic slave trade? I was just pointing out that not only is Blink on very shaky historical ground but if they want to look for the modern iterations of who was historical culpable, why not also blame the government of Ghana too? None of it could have happened without the willing cooperation of a great many coastal African potentates. The whole thing is preposterous.

    I wonder how Blink would react if someone said “I, as a white person, accept the blame for black people being brought to this country against their will many generations ago and as a result, I will give at my own expense to any black person who want to emigrate to the African country of their ancestors, a one way economy class airline ticket.”

    Would that be viewed as “doing the right thing” I wonder? Just curious because I am QUITE sure that is a notion they would find the BNP very happy to make common cause with them over.

  • Isn’t Boris of Turkish descent?
    He was (is?) also an American citizen until recently (having been born in the US).

    He’s probably far more multicultural than Ken who likes to use race politics as a political tool (as we’re seeing now, and have seen recently).

  • guy herbert

    J, Perry,

    Actually the Royal Navy was quite active in suppressing slaving in the Indian Ocean, too. But it was a coastal, rather than a high-seas trade, so less readily policed. And probably less of a priority since the domestic and artisanal slavery of the Arab world presented less of an economic threat/target than the industrial New World trade. It wasn’t until missionary and imperial activity got going in East Africa in the latter 19th century that local slave economies were suppressed, and chattel slavery quite officially still existed in the Arab world until the later 20th century.

    Slavery per se was notionally abolished in the British Empire from 1838, and that sharpened the attacks on filthy foreigners still doing it, from Liberals at least. What continued to exist within the Empire for a very long time was indentured labour and debt bondage, both of which can be thin disguises for slavery.

    So nothing to be smug about; but it would be quite as foolish to be smug as to be ashamed.

  • guy herbert


    I imagine that the Turkish roots will be being drawn to the attention every Greek or Kurdish organisation that is known to the mayor’s campaign office as we speak.

    The American connection on the other hand (and maybe suggestions that his Turkish grandfather was an apostate) will be being spread in Muslim circles.

  • James Waterton

    Crikey moses, Nick M! That’s quite a link. There are some fucking stupid people in the world.

  • Boris should play the victim card; as a cyclist he is suffering at the hands of Tebbitism.

  • Paul Marks

    Boris Johnson plays these things the correct way.

    If you come from a rich background play it UP not down.

    It is not just the left who have chips on their shoulders (for example I am well balanced – in that I have a chip on each of my shoulders), but if a man says something like the following (and in a bouncy happy way).

    “Yes I got into Oxford and got various good jobs because of my family connections – I have always been very happy to have people help me”.

    It is difficult not to warm to him.

    It is people who say “I am an ordinary person really” (and put on “working class” accents and so on) or say “I got what where I am by my own merits” (when they clearly did not) that inspire dislike.

    In spite of all the efforts to create envy of rich people, most nonrich people do not feel any real dislike of the rich – unless rich folk claim to be “better people” in some way.

    The English (and other people) still “love a Lord” – after all, someone has got to win the lottery of life.