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Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: Londoners would be mad to vote for Boris

He could win. The public is gullible; rich white folk and parts of the press love him

Monday, 21 April 2008

As 1 May approaches, many Londoners feel only presentiment and ire. None of the candidates for Mayor are inspiring, and the two frontrunners are so flawed that it shames democracy itself. We lurch between democratic duty and an enervating loss of will. Our diverse and lively city is invited to choose either a jaded, aging Labourite who doesn't want to let go or a refashioned Tory with elitist, colonial and libertarian values. It is a contest between practised rogues.

Who will make the more disastrous Mayor of London? That is the only question. For anyone who knows the metropolis, the answer should be clear. Don't vote for the clever and cute Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. He does not have the sensibility of a Londoner; he is not one of us, even though, poor chap, he is putting up a good show.

Boris says whatever he thinks voters want to hear. None of it, nothing really matters. He must think people are fools who will be instantly convinced by this apology, that assertion, that triff little policy idea, a sound bite and its reversal, but days on. And there are people out there waiting to be fooled, among them a mate, a black social worker:

"He's changed. He's really serious about this. Maybe it started as a joke, but the guy is winning me over". "Why?, what policies appeal?" I ask. "Dunno, eh, eh, the stuff about guns. I like that. I think. What did he say he would do? And he apologised for that racist stuff."

Remember Boris the fearless columnist and forthright politician, when his jobs were on the line, delivered apologies like pizzas to the various groups he gratuitously offended. So how can we tell what he really believes today?

Is he still bullishly sure that the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry report – which forced this nation to examine its own dark heart – was "Ceausescu-ish hysteria", "Orwellian" and a "witch-hunt"? He has often (before this election, of course) denounced anti-discrimination policies and laws. Racism would not be a problem if we all had "good manners", he claimed. Someone should ask him and soon.

He likes cycling past low buildings and detests new, tall monstrosities. Sounds like John Major's dreamy church-going maids. The likes of Lord Rogers who are making London so people-friendly must hear this with incredulity.

Then there is the transport issue. He will not "punish" owners of hideous big cars by asking them to pay more for the pollution they cause, but they should still drive less. Good manners will do that too, I guess, and solve the global warming threat, never taken seriously by Boris, who rejected the Kyoto agreement. Cyclists will get a good champion in this mayor but not if they want more rules and regulations – the Tory hates intervention. Why he wants this interventionist job is therefore a mystery.

He announced a referendum on the smoking ban then issued a press release saying he doesn't mean that. But you must have done Boris, for in a letter to The Times you wrote: "the dangers of smoking and passive smoking are being exaggerated to the point of hysteria".

On race and religion he slips and slides, offers up genetic references. His forefathers were Turkish and one married a slave girl. So what? Tories believe past racist crimes committed by Europe should be laid to rest, so too then these ancient links pulled out for convenience. And that his wife has some Asian blood matters even less. He has slammed Muslims unfairly often enough for us not to trust him.

He supported the war on Iraq; he has not made a single convincing speech on race relations and has made appallingly prejudiced statements. Some of his best friends may come from different backgrounds, but that, alas, is not a testimonial. For a right wing journalist, none of this matters; for the job Boris is going for it does, hugely.

Oh and Boris promises no questionable cronies and full accountability. So what about Lynton Crosbie, Boris's minder, previously a strategist for the right wing Australian PM, John Howard, described as the "master of the dark political arts"? He headed a campaign which fallaciously accused asylum seekers of throwing their kids into the sea and during which his business partner, Mark Textor, accused a female opponent of supporting abortion at nine months. An appointment that should worry Londoners.

Boris could well win. The public is gullible; rich white folk and parts of the press love him. David Cameron may yet rue the victory and Ken too, for running a dodgy fiefdom and taking Londoners for granted. Come the Olympics, we will be in a right old mess. But then we will have had many laughs along the way with good old Boris.

y.alibhai-brown@independent.co.uk

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102 Comments

Paddy you remind us of the ancient saying:

'You can lead a horse to water but you can not make it drink'.

Paddy, you cannot perceive that racial bigotry from this writer (who is an immigrant) has a direct amplification effect on indigenous white racists; it encourages them.

This is the problem. Get it yet?

Posted by Zen | 22.04.08, 17:26 GMT

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I still can't see where the supposed racism is?

Rich white folks do love Boris Johnson, he's a Tory, and who usually supports Tories....

Also I think a lot of posters have had a sense of humour by-pass.

Posted by Paddy | 22.04.08, 17:13 GMT

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Yasmin, you're noting more than a Racist. If you disagree with me, defend your 'rich white folks' statement in the above article. I will vote for Boris, and never buy another copy of the independent.

Posted by jones | 22.04.08, 17:03 GMT

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Response to Paddy: Face forwards not backwards. It is the future you should focus on not the past.

The basis of our society is the principle of reciprocity and equality of all individuals in the eyes of the law.

Hence any laws to protect ‘non-whites’ in a ‘white’ country with modern secular law must apply to the majority ‘white’ population as well.

If race-relations law only protects ‘non-whites’ in a ‘white’ country it will inevitably lead to civil strife.

This is a very serious issue, as none of us want to see a BNP government that will be the inevitable result of legal double standards, which are used against the majority indigenous population. Not a laughing matter. I suppose ignorance is bliss and you may keep on being ‘cracked up’ by the subject; but many serious minds are very concerned indeed.

I am afraid you are caught up in the ‘left wing white self hate’ referred to by other people’s posts here.

Posted by Zen | 22.04.08, 16:34 GMT

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Yes Zen - but in the UK one can be as racist as one wants to be against white people - many people make a living out of the race relations industry - but one can never ever criticise any black or asian people without being called racist. This is where we are now in this country.

I'd love to see Yasmin Alibi-Brawn in the dock though - for being a sanctimious hypocritical finger-wagging nanny perhaps? Or for being a tedious and bad writer. But a charge of inciting racial hatred would be great. remember, however, that Iqbal Sacranie, former leader of the islamofascist muslim council incited racism and murder against Salman Rushdie in 1989 - and instead of being arrested he got a knighthood!!! He could still be arrested however - it's all on tape. Why hasn't he? Couldn't possibly be because he's an ethnic minority could it?

The real problem here is the adoption of identity politics in the 1960s - the idea that everything is about race or gender, and that is all that disadvantages people. Waht piffle. Social class is the main factor by a mile (comprising wealth, education, genetic inheritance and far more). Most pakistanis and bangladeshis and jamasicans who came here were lower class - that is why they fail in the UK. Indians are rich and middle-class - and they do well. It is NOTHING to do with race: that idea is a construct of the race relations industry.

Posted by Eddie | 22.04.08, 16:29 GMT

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Thanks for pointing that out Zen, afterall us whites have had it pretty hard over the last 150 years or so.

You guys crack me up.

Posted by Paddy | 22.04.08, 16:05 GMT

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Paddy; Yes.

Your brain is missing.

Referring to 'all' of one ethnic group (in this case whites) as possessing a single trait is racism and illegal under criminal law.

'The public is gullible; rich white folk and parts of the press love him'

To paraphrase this racist statement: 'White people are all stupid and hence they love him'.

Posted by Zen | 22.04.08, 15:51 GMT

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Am I missing something, where is this racist slander?

Posted by Paddy | 22.04.08, 15:43 GMT

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I find YAB to be a ghastly self-promoter, so very deeply in love with herself. To shake hands with her is to shake hands with a walking continent of self congratulation. Entry of the phrase "self satisfied" into Google returns the image of her wet, passive-aggressive smirk. I can't bear the woman, just like I can't bear insufferable, pompous bores of any stripe. She's the female Michael Winner.

But on Boris and the London mayoralty, she's right on the money. My hat, probably just this once, is off to her.

Posted by George | 22.04.08, 15:36 GMT

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Just for the record. I have just got off the telephone with the legal department at the Independent.

I have asked them to apologise to the majority 'White' population for this racist slander.

Further I asked them to print a retraction.

I suggest that any one concerned speak to their lawyers, to put pressure on the legal department of the Independent, to ensure that in the future their articles do not breach race relations (criminal) law.

Posted by Zen | 22.04.08, 14:43 GMT

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102 Comments


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