Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Smearing for fun and profit

In an interview on the Today programme recently, Ken Livingstone said, in relation to the challenge from Boris Johnson, that he was going through all Boris's published articles for proof of his nasty, reactionary Tory ways. Ken said, ludicrously, that Boris was 'some way to the right of Norman Tebbit'. In the last few days, since the weekend, a flurry of articles and blog posts have come out decrying Boris for his 'racism'. Equally, on Iain Dale's site and many others, two or three commenters have flooded the comments with examples of Boris's racism.
All the examples come from two articles. One was written by Boris Johnson about Blair's messianic imperialist attitude to foreign affairs and included the following phrase:
It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies; and one can imagine that Blair, twice victor abroad but enmired at home, is similarly seduced by foreign politeness.
They say he is shortly off to the Congo. No doubt the AK47s will fall silent, and the pangas will stop their hacking of human flesh, and the tribal warriors will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief touch down in his big white British taxpayer-funded bird.
It seems clear to me that this is nothing more than an a satirical view of Blair's attitude to Africa - his desire to be seen as some 19th century potentate. It certainly isn't racist. This an argument that doesn't really need any further exploration - it's nonsense.
What's interesting is the implication of it's sudden arrival onto the public scene. The article in question was written in 2002 - why is it causing a fuss now? Is it poosible that Ken Livingstone has got his mayoral team on research duty - trawling the Boris back catalogue for juicy out-of-context titbits to throw to useful idiots? If so, who's paying? Dizzy is always good at tracing such things - and Freeborn John noticed, when he wrote (with considerable inside track knowledge...) about the Darius Guppy and Boris Johnson affair, that someone in the GLA was downloading the transcripts from his site. There could be a really juicy little misuse of public funds story here...

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