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Readers’ poll: what on earth did Boris mean?

Sky News on Twitter: “Boris Johnson has suggested the world’s leading nations should support a more ‘gender-neutral and feminine’ way of post-COVID economic recovery.”

“Gender neutral and feminine”? Click on the words below* that in your opinion best match what was going through Boris’s tousled head as he said these words.

(a) Pay up, Matt, I did it.

(b) Hey, if Joe can get away with “Those RFA pilots”, I can get away with this.

(c) You’re looking awfully pretty today, Carrie.

(d) You’re looking awfully pretty today, Ursula.

*Nothing will happen when you click. But you will feel better for having expressed yourself.

42 comments to Readers’ poll: what on earth did Boris mean?

  • bobby b

    I’ll guess he meant “gender neutral and gentle”, but he’s still too hidebound and traditional to realize that “feminine” is no longer a synonym for “gentle.”

    (In fact, I’m not sure that “feminine” even continues to have any meaning anymore.)

  • JohnK

    Boris Johnson is a liar and a bullshitter. Who cares what he said? If it’s not an outright lie, it’s bullshit. He’s 56 and it’s what he’s always done. He won’t change now.

  • Is it just me or is Boris having to work hard not to smile broadly just after he says it?

  • Bell Curve

    The entire UK establishment needs to be burned to the ground and the ashes pissed on. We are governed by morons & clowns regardless of party.

  • Lee Moore

    Boris Johnson is a liar and a bullshitter.

    If that were the limit of his sins, we would be blessed indeed.

  • Watching it (again, to check – bother you for raising this, Natalie 🙂 ; I do not usually feel the need to hear politicians words once, let alone twice), I realise Sky’s summary is a bit deceptive (but maybe in a slovenly rather than intended way).

    … how we’ll never have a repeat of what we have seen, but also … [rambles on about build back better, greener, fairer, more equal – then tentatively] how shall I … in a more gender neutral … perhaps I … [becomes more emphatic] in a more feminine way, how about that? [makes emphatic hand gesture]

    If I hear aright, there is no ‘and’ between ‘gender-neutral’ and ‘feminine’. I think the ‘feminine’ is a correction to the ‘gender-neutral’, not a complement. I suspect he is deep-down bored (he’s not the only one in the room who is bored, though perhaps each of the others looked interested when they themselves were speaking) and is winging it, stringing the words together (or it might be, wishing to give that impression) and pleased when he gets the term he likes.

  • I suspect he is deep-down bored

    If this pathetic excuse for a Prime Minister was an actual conservative, he would be stridently standing against this bullshit, not pretending these toxic ideas were no big deal. This worthless fucker is not riffing Winston Churchill, he is channelling Neville Chamberlain.

  • Paul Marks

    I can not think of anything to say.

  • Bulldog Drummond

    I can not think of anything to say.

    Who are you and what have you done with Paul Marks? 😂

  • decnine

    Classic case of failure to engage brain before starting mouth.

  • Bogdan the Aussie

    This is, perhaps, the first case in British history when someone fucked his own brain to death…

  • GregWA

    I nominate Bulldog Drummond for SQOTD!

  • George Atkisson

    Meaningless bafflegab.

    I’m also in complete agreement with Bulldog Drummond and GregWA.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Three questions:
    Who are Matt, Carrie, and Ursula?

    — As a side note: Once again, Boris confirms me in my belief in the brain-damaging effects of the modern Western diet.

  • mongoose

    I think that what it means is that he thinks that he and the other 6 G7 travellers are now united by circumstance, handcuffed together and shackled to the out of control chariot in which they travel. The words must continue to be said, however mad they become, because in the immortal words of Mrs T, “There is no alternative.”

    None of them, of course, remembers the rampant inflation of the Seventies – that’s a proper generation ago, not an SNP generation. The economic destruction they have wrought this last year will be as nothing as they use their new powers to further forbid wealth-creating economic activity in the name of a gaia-worshiping bout of suicidal “carbon” taxes and regs. More old and poor people will die in (especially) Northern Europe and the northern US but that, it seems, doesn’t matter.

    It will end in tears and violence.

  • lucklucky

    “This worthless fucker is not riffing Winston Churchill, he is channelling Neville Chamberlain.”

    I think you are unfair to Neville, even he had a limit to BS.

  • Roué le Jour

    I see Boris more as Michael Palin’s Pontius Pilate. I expect any day to see him on the view screens in a toga with his nose in the air.

    “Centuwian, that man without a mask, throw him to the ground and treat him woughly. Now listen, peasants. You will stay in your homes until your lives are iwwevocably destwoyed. Because Wome wishes it. That is all. Cawwy on, centuwian.”

  • Roué le Jour

    BTW, I think what Boris is trying to say is “less masculine”. Good luck with that when the Visigoths turn up.

  • Ferox

    Boris meant exactly the same thing that people mean when they look at a group comprised entirely of black people and label that group as “diverse”.

  • Paul Marks

    Well Bulldog Drummond – during my sleep (such as it was) the name “P.E. Moore” came into my mind.

    P.E. Moore was the mentor of T.S. Eliot (although they disagreed on some matters) and he came to visit the United Kingdom in the 1930s to visit Mr Eliot.

    At first P.E. Moore was charmed by the United Kingdom, especially England, its politics were so much more peaceful than at home – where the Liberty League (and other pro liberty people) and the Collectivist New Dealers were locked in bitter conflict. Britain was so much more “civilised”.

    But then P.E. Moore came to the conclusion that this “peace” in politics was because British “Conservatives” went along with the ever bigger and more controlling government “Social Reform” agenda of the left – that, like “Country Club Republicans” in America (what are now called “RINOs”), they either believed in “Social Reform” (creeping totalitarianism) themselves, or did not really believe in it – but did not think they could stop it, and were concerned with protecting their own comfortable lives and those of their family and friends. And they could only protect themselves and their family and friends – by being-in-office.

    There is nothing wrong with protecting your comfortable life or the comfortable lives of your family and friends – but, P.E. Moore believed, going along with endlessly bigger and more controlling government would eventually hurt everyone, even the “clever” politicians themselves.

    It must be stressed that these were the opinions of P.E. Moore in the 1930s – and he made no distinction between Churchill and Chamberlain – as they both went along with all the “Social Reform” doctrines of the left. Indeed if one reads the biographies of Winston Churchill written by Gilbert and Andrew Roberts it is clear that Winston Churchill went along with the “Social Reform” agenda of the Collectivists just as Chamberlain did.

    The once famous (but now almost totally forgotten) Liberal writer and politician John Morley, argued that the last Prime Minister who really wanted to reduce the size and scope of government was Gladstone. And it must be stressed that John Morley (the biographer of Gladstone) argued that Gladstone, in the end, FAILED – that he was out played by the “New Liberals” who wanted an ever larger and more interventionist government.

    John Morley had been a “Social Reformer” himself – but had come to the conclusion that these policies caused harm to the very people they were intended to help. Winston Churchill remarked on this – how it was John Morley who had first interested him (Churchill) in the Liberal Party, but had then “after long study” turned against the Social Reform (i.e. ever bigger government) policies of the age. Winston Churchill did, in no way, refute the “long study” of John Morley – but he held (or at least sometimes implied) that it was vain to go against the “spirit of the age” (as Hegel put it). Such policies were inevitable (whether they did good or harm) and if one wished to be in office – one must go along with them. Someone might say that if one is in office one can “tweak” policies to make them less harmful – if one is not in office one can do nothing.

    If P.E. Moore was alive he might say that Mr Alexander Johnson holds a similar position – and Prime Minister Johnson (himself an author of a book on Winston Churchill) would not be insulted by the comparison. Indeed he would be pleased by it.

    Whether it is supporting the 1906 Trade Union Act (which was even more extreme than the 1875 Act of Disraeli – Disraeli being the first “Social Reformer” Prime Minister, and not a Liberal Party man) and then claiming to be surprised by the rise in UNEMPLOYMENT (the inevitable result of the 1906 Act), or saying in the early 1950s that the conflict with unions had been settled “on whose terms?” (asked the Chancellor – who had been left out of the talks), “on their terms old cock!”, we are were we are.

    I was once told by a Conservative (Conservative Party) academic that “history has no reverse gear” (I suspect he got that idea from Hegel), and that we should just “enjoy life” as we watched the transformation of the relationship of the state and society over time.

    For some of us “enjoying life” in such circumstances is not something that we would choose to do.

  • Alexander Tertius Harvey

    I echo lucklucky. Neville Chamberlain does not deserve comparison with the fat fornicator.

  • Alexander Tertius Harvey

    Paul. Think of Neville (and the other Chamberlains) as primarily (New) Liberals grafted onto the Conservatives by their Unionism.

  • Lee Moore

    I think Boris is just lazy. If he can’t be bothered to prepare for Prime Minister’s Questions, why would he prepare for some press thing. He just wings it, and relies on his undoubted talent for amusing phrases. Also although his manner annoys the c**p out of some people, to others he comes across as non-shouty, non-prim, and even, to some extent, non-insane.

    I think he is lazily biding his time, so that he can hop on the “enough with these damn covid regulations” bus, just when he feels the majority are feeling that way. He doesn’t want to hop on too early and alienate the fraidy cats, nor too late and alienate the I say it really is about time crowd.

    Most samizdatistas are in the FFS what is this c**p corner. So they dont understand that Boris is sitting on the fence, and he will come off it when he feels it’s the right time. And likewise with the gender nonsense. When the majority has had enough of it, Boris will be there leading the charge.

    He’s going with the flow.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    My guess is that the truth is a mixture of Lee Moore’s and Niall Kilmartin’s suggestions.

    Some people just like to talk. To them the pleasure of holding forth is almost unaffected by whether they believe their own words or not. Boris can kinda-sorta convince himself that he believes in the gender neutral thing while saying it. It’s not utterly devoid of meaning; you could read it as saying “Consider the interests of women equally to those of men”. Then he sees a chance to put it more strongly and appeal to female voters, which he needs to do because IIRC his approval rating is lower among women. So he says it! Yay! He is scarcely going to be criticised for those sentiments by the other G7 leaders. But at the same time words are his bread and butter and he is aware of the absurdity of what he just said. It amuses him. He smiles a little to let those on his own side know that he doesn’t really believe all this stuff. He wins with both sides.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Snorri Godhi

    Matt is Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. Carrie is Carrie Johnson née Symonds, formerly Boris Johnson’s unmarried partner who became his third wife two weeks ago. Ursula is Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, a woman who looks astonishingly good for her age.

  • Flubber

    Theres millions of them and they’re already here in their enclaves, multiplying fruitfully on benefits.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Thank you, Natalie!

  • TDK

    Option (e) One more push and I’ll be the first Conservative leader to win over Guardian readers.

    Tories always delude themselves that they can win over such people. It is forever, just one more push.

  • John Lewis

    It is appropriate that this tale of a mediocre talent attaining a position of high influence without any input from the electorate was written by Lord Adonis.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    TomJ, thank you for linking to that very informative article about Ursula von der Leyen.

    Astonishingly it is written by arch-Remainer Lord (Andrew) Adonis. Perhaps I should not be so surprised. Back in Blair and Brown’s day he was one of the better Labour ministers.

    Readers from abroad, don’t judge him by his title and assume he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. “Lord Adonis” sounds like something out of a gooey romance novel, but in fact he comes from a deprived immigrant background and spent some of his childhood in local authority care.

    I think he is quite a talented guy, although as John Lewis hinted, he managed to have a good career in politics without ever getting voted in by the electorate.

    Unfortunately he, like the philosopher A.C. Grayling, comes into the category of “People driven batty by Brexit”.

  • Lee Moore

    Actually thinking about it, which is perhaps more than Boris did, “more gender neutral” and “more feminine” are perfectly consistent.

    If you assume that the pre Covid world was too masculine, then the aspiration is to become more gender neutral, and consequently the direction of travel needs to be more feminine.

    We need a more equal distribution of housework, so we need more from Henry.

  • Adding to Lee Moore (June 12, 2021 at 9:40 am) and Natalie Solent (Essex) (June 12, 2021 at 11:05 am), Boris has an important hurdle still to clear; repeal of the fixed term parliament act – scheduled for this session, should be straightforward, but not yet done.

  • lucklucky

    Actually thinking about it, which is perhaps more than Boris did, “more gender neutral” and “more feminine” are perfectly consistent.
    Lee Moore
    June 12, 2021 at 3:44 pm

    No they are not consistent. That would be “less masculine” not “more feminine”. Being neutral means neither masculine or feminine, so going neutral does not mean more feminine.

  • barbarus

    Virtue signalling. He wants the G7 leaders to know that he’s really one of them, not Mr Nearly No Deal Brexit at all.

  • Phil B

    Years ago, the Dilbert website had a Random Mission Statement generator that strung together buzzwords, phrases and other politically correct sounds to produce a “Mission Statement” such as “Proactively levering synergy to maximise customer delight while enervating shareholder involvement and benefits”.

    It is gobbledygook but that statement by/for/from Bozo Johnson appears to have been similarly randomly strung together by a computer somewhere to make the listener feel good and make him sound sound clever while containing absolutely bugger all sense or content.

    The fact that the Samizdata crew and commentators have spent all this time trying to understand it and have failed to come up with a definitive answer sort of demonstrates this. You might as well slaughter a chicken and examine its entrails for greater wisdom and understanding that that parcel of Charlie Rap.A better piece of Political woffle is hard to find.

  • Paul Marks

    ATH – I agree that the Chamberlain family were not really conservatives (although Austin Chamberlain may have been moving in a conservative direction in the years just before his death).

    But there was plenty of “Social Reform” (i.e. ever bigger and more controlling government) inside the party before them – it really started with Disraeli, a radical novelist (famous for such lies as “two nations”) who was accepted as a Conservative due to his elegance and skill with language.

    Gladstone failed to roll back the state (or even, in the end, to stop its growth) – but Disraeli was far more guilty, he WANTED the government to grow and keep growing.

    I think had Gladstone won the election of 1874 he really would have abolished the income tax (as John Morley noted – it is the income tax that has fuelled the growth of government, as it produces the illusion that only “the rich” pay for government growth) – but critics point out that Gladstone had already accepted the Forster Act of 1870 Act of 1870 which paved the way for the government take over of EDUCATION.

    Mr Forster was a confused man (deeply so – his mind was undermined by a distressing disease) – so he has some excuse. Gladstone does not any real excuse – both the National Schools (Anglican) and British Schools (Dissenting) and various secular schools, were bound to be undermined by the new “Board Schools” – the idea that the new Board Schools would just “fill the gaps” (as Mr Forster claimed) was obviously false.

  • Paul Marks

    One of the worst absurdities is the idea “the government has grown and there is less poverty – so there must be less poverty BECAUSE government spending and regulations have grown”.

    This idea is totally false – indeed had people at past levels of technology had the size and scope of government we have today, society would have collapsed into mass death.

    Indeed “we must increase taxes to help the poor” was tried in the 19th century – in IRELAND under the slogan “Irish Property Must Pay For Irish Poverty”.

    Not only was the Poor Law Property Tax (introduced in Ireland at the start of the 1830s) dramatically increased in the 1840s – as Poor Law Unions went bankrupt, other parts of Ireland were forced to “share the burden” by having their Poor Law Property Tax increased as well (so everywhere in Ireland had a sledgehammer taken to its economy).

    Far from being an example of “laissez faire” Ireland in the late 1840s was an example of “modern thinking” – the idea that ever higher taxes “to help the poor” would have beneficial results.

    I would advice people to look at the actual result of the this policy of ever higher taxation and government spending in Ireland in the late 1840s – it was not beneficial.

    It is true that with a higher level of technology a society can support a much bigger government than it could in the 1840s – but poverty is still much higher than it OTHERWISE WOULD HAVE BEEN.

    For example, California used to be the most prosperous society in the history of humanity – modern Big Government California has, in relation to its cost of living, the worst poverty in the United States.

    J.B. Say, and other French economists of the 19th century, had a better grasp of just how damaging government taxes and spending are, than most British economists did.

    France avoided a Poor Law for most of the 19th century – and French economists had strong arguments that the people who would be hurt the most by such a system, would be THE POOR. However, France did have its own government spending burden – the heavy burden of military spending, especially on the French Army.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    BJ is as some have said a pure opportunist. Had it not been for his taking the U.K. out of the EU (albeit with flaws), there’d be no merit to him at all.

    He plays the cheeky chap/shagger card but is now also trying to drop phrases about feminism and so on. The cognitive dissonance is so extreme that he’s either undermining it or has gone under the influence of his wife. If it’s the latter then she holds the frame in that marriage as Meghan does with Harry. The results are equally bad.

  • Katy Hibbert

    I think he’s taking the mick, in honour of Sleepy Joe’s Oirishness. You could burble anything at the demented hair-fondler and he’d nod his empty head at it.

  • Paul Marks

    There are some technical differences between the “Land Value Tax” of David Ricardo and Henry George and the very high property taxes of the early 19th century – but they are not fundamental differences (whatever the Georgists claim).

    In short the Henry George experiment has already been tried – in such places as Ireland in the late 1840s, and it did not turn out well.

    Indeed the Poor Law Property Tax in England and Wales had already reached such a dramatic level (due to the Speenhamland wage subsidy system – the “negative income tax” of the day to use Milton Friedman language) that radical action was taken in England and Wales with the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 – trying to scale back the expense (and hence the Property Tax).

    I believe that New Jersey has the highest Property Taxes in the United States – and New Jersey is not exactly know for prosperty, so the Georgist idea of a “tax that does know harm” is revealed as a myth, and a terrible one at that.

    All taxes do harm – a Property Tax is no exception. And creating money from nothing to finance the government and the favoured “pet” corporations, also does harm.

  • Paul Marks

    The idea that a Property Tax (sorry a “Land Value Tax”) causes no harm is just WRONG.

    If Adam Smith believed this (and that is unclear) then he was just WRONG.

    If David Ricardo believed this – then he was just WRONG.

    Sir Charles Trevelyan and his gang (the “Irish Property must pay for Irish Poverty” people) with their endlessly higher Property Tax (on the landlords of farm land – so it was bleeping “Land Value Tax” in all but name) caused total and absolute DISASTER.

    “But Frank Fetter was rude about Henry George”.

    Oh dear, how sad, never mind.

    If Mr George did not want people being rude about him, he should not have been pushing snake oil. And the idea that there is a “good tax” or that government spending can be funded “without harm” is snake oil.