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Boris Johnson: by their outbursts shall ye know them

ken and boris (pic from Guardian video)The boisterous pantomime that is Boris Johnson may well have taken a step too far in his irrepressible flair for self-publicity. To observe that “as many as 16% of our species have an IQ below 85, while about 2% have an IQ above 130″ in order to justify ‘shaking the pack harder so it will be easier for some cornflakes to get to the top’ says a great deal, not only about Johnson himself, but about the Bullingdon Club mentality which so strongly infuses the menagerie of characters around the Tory leadership.

This was an unabashed assertion that the super-rich deserve all that they have ‘because they’re worth it’, even though he expressed the forlorn hope that the “Gordon Gekkos of London are conspicuous not just for their greed as for what they give and do for the rest of the population” – fat chance of that. And harking back to classic Thatcherism he added that “I hope there is no return to the spirit of loadsamoney heartlessness – figuratively rifling banknotes under the noses of the homeless”. He doesn’t seem to have noticed that this is already happening ever more starkly.

But what is really significant is the reaction of the Tory party to this bravura proclamation of the merits of inequality expressed in the most lurid class and intellectually demeaning manner since Keith Joseph’s claim 40 years ago that ‘women from social classes 4 and 5 who often had low intelligence were threatening our human stock’. The Tory party went deathly quiet at Johnson’s declarations. When John Major, their previous PM, made some unexceptionally modest reproof of exploitative energy pricing, the Tory machine hung him out to dry. But with Johnson they slunk away – because they entirely agree with him, though they know that it’s extremely impolitic to admit it.

The Labour party now has two of its lines for the election: Cameron’s that austerity will continue even when (or if) the deficit is paid off, and Johnson’s that the ultra-rich should be enriched even more and applauded – a sentiment that his Tory colleagues by their silence show they too adhere to. Johnson’s pronouncements may well offer attractive rhetoric to the unreconstructed Tory Right, but they do not pass muster in the cold light of day.

He eulogises the top 1% for paying so much tax, but neglects that that is far less than it should be, given that their pay is far more than £2,000 a week and their tax avoidance is on a huge scale. He says growing international competition meant inequality would inevitably deepen, but neglects that high wages are not the bottom, but an over-valued exchange rate. He wants more selection in schools and a restoration of grammar schools and strengthening of private schools, without apparently seeing that this will paralyse social mobility and a fair chance for all in which he pretends to believe.

One Comment

  1. Jim Butler-Daulby says:

    One of the best analogies reflecting Boris’s position can be found quoted in Nicholas Shaxson’s book “Treasure Islands:” the ‘feed the donkey’ theory. If you feed the donkey enough oats, eventually what he excretes will have enough oats in it to feed the sparrows! Guess we’re all grateful sparrows, yes?

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