Thursday 9 August 2018

The Big Boris vs Ken Rematch - Who is the bigger racist?

What is it about the former Mayors of London? In a parallel universe, we'd be comparing their mayoral records, not their record on racist outbursts. I personally believe both did a good job as Mayors, especially intheir first terms.

Ken brought in congestion charging, Oysert Cards and won the Olympics. Boris brought in Boris Bikes and bikelanes, Buses and delivered Kens promise of the best ever Olympics. Ken gave one of the finest speeches in our history after the 7/7 bombings. He spoke of bringing communities together. Boris never gave such a fine speech as Mayor, but we should be thankful he didn't' have to.

I suspect that for both, the Mayoralty will prove to be the pinnacle of their respective careers. There is a bitter symmetry in that for both, they both had energetic and productive first terms but fairly nondescript second terms. In Ken's case possibly because he thought he had a job for life. Boris had bored of the job once the second term was secured, yearning for a return to Parliament. Ken also revealed his achiles heel during his second term. Ken has an issue with Jewish people and an obsession with Adolf Hitler. His run in with a Jewish Evening Standard journalist, comparing him to a concentration camp guard,  showed us a side that even Ken's most ardent supporters found hard to forgive. Had Ken just apologised and put it down to being tired and harrassed, it may have been forgivem and he may even have beaten Boris. As it was, every utterance simply underlined the fact that Ken has a blind spot about racism when it comes to the Jewish community. Many on the left have a dislike of Israel and sympathy for the Palestinian movement, but Ken seemed to have a far deeper problem. His pronouncements became ever more bizzare. His departure from the Labour party was a result of his statement that "Hitler was a zionist before he went mad" on the Vanessa Feltz (a Jewish presenter on BBC London) show. His argument was that because Hitler wanted to kick German Jews out and that Palestine was where Zionists wanted a homeland, this in some way meant that he was sympthetic to the cause of Zionism. The argument simply does not stand up to historical analysis. Hitler was anti Jewish when he wrote Mein Kampf, passed discriminatory laws almost immediately on his ascendence to power and simply saw Zionist aspiration of a Jewish homeland as a convenient way to achieve his aim of a Germany without Jews. It is rather like claiming that the KKK were anti racist because they liked the idea of people keeping black slaves ( I once heard a member of the organisation claim that the KKK were not racists for this very reason, claiming the lot of black people was better off under slavery. Clearly utter nonsense, but the same sort of argument).

Ken never really seemed to care about the damage he was causing to the wider Labour party. Just about every debate about whether Labour are anti semitic sooner or later ends up talking about Ken and at that point it really becomes clear that the Labour party has failed to address the issue.

Boris at least had the good grace to wait till he'd left the London stage to, in Ken's words, "go mad". It is 100% clear that there are problems in the Tory party with Islamaphobia. In the Borough of Barnet, a councillor was suspended from the party for making Islamaphobic tweets and trolling the Muslim Council. Boris has never been PC. Before he ran for Mayor, he'd referred to black people as "smiling Piccaninies". His recent comments are however a completely different scale of racism. Until recently Boris was Foreign Secretary. For those who have managed to aoid the scandal, He wrote in an article that women in Burqa's resemble letter boxes and look like bank robbers. Like many of the actions of Boris, there is a very deliberate method in his madness. The article was, on the face of it, opposing the Danish legal ban on Burqas in public places. Bear in mind that Boris is not a media innocent, he is a journalist of many years. His pro burqa premise was simply cover for his highly inflammatory comments.

I doubt too many British people support the forcing of women to wear veils. But to state that they "look like Bank robbers" is a huge insult and completely innacurate.  I'd not be surprised if there were more robberies by people wearing Boris masks than Burqa's, if you want a stereotype for a bank robber, it would be a sheepskin coat and a beaten up Jag. Boris is clearly implying that there is something with an undertone of lawlessness about a clothing item that is chosen largely by poor Muslim women from third world countries. Boris words plant seeds of hatred. If you have any doubts about what Boris was up to, read the "friends, Romans, Countrymen" speech by Mark Anthony in Julius Ceaser by William Shakespeare. Anthony uses a speech, supposedly to bury Ceaser and all that he stood for, to rouse a rabble in his name. Boris has used the exact same tactic against the Muslim community to perfection.

I have no dount at all that Boris, like Ken will deny that he's being racist. I have no doubt at all that Boris and Ken will both back up their behaiour with all manner of dodgy self justifications. I have no doubt at all, that an ever dwindling band of die hard loyalists will buy the crap they are spouting and use all manner of arguments to justify the behaviour of their hero's. I also hae no dount that the vast majority of their respective parties are horrified by their behaviour. The Labour Party has done itself huge damage by it's inaction in relation towards Ken. The Tories will make the same mistake if they tolerate such horrible Islamaphobic comments. Be in no doubt that Boris comments are classic Islamaphobia and rabble rousing. Racists of low intelligence will see what Boris said as being a green light to abuse law abiding muslim women in traditional clothing. Just as Ken's comments sparked a whole swathe of anti semitic comments on Social Media, Boris risks the same.

I asked who is the biggest racist of the two. Personally, I'd call it a draw. If the Tory party wants to do itself a favour, I'd advise them to not make the mistake the Labour party made. Send out a strong message that such comments are not tolerable. Withdraw the Tory whip from Boris. If they do that, then they will put Labour to shame. My view is that there is no place in public life for the sort of comments that both Ken and Boris have made.

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