Monday, August 06, 2007

Andrew Gilligan on Doreen Lawrence

Andrew Gilligan shares my views on Doreen Lawrence's disgraceful attack on Boris Johnson. I listened to an appalling half hour's phone-in on Radio 5 last night, where Simon Woolley from Operation Black Vote demeaned himself and his position by what he said about Boris. Normally Simon is quite sensible and has done a lot to encourage ethnic minorities to take part in the political process, but last night he embarrassed himself. This is what Andrew Gilligan had to say in today's Evening Standard...

Whatever my feelings about Ken Livingstone’s mayoralty, I never doubted his political skill. But in their initial responses to Boris Johnson, it is surprising how inept Ken and his supporters have been. First there was the claim that Boris was a serial absentee from Parliament – hastily dropped after it emerged that Ken’s own attendance had been far worse. Then Mr Livingstone tried to brand him a rabid extremist, an "acolyte" of George W.Bush and someone "who makes Norman Tebbit look liberal" – absurd charges, not supported even by the most finely-chiselled selective quotation. And now, with almost desperate haste, the Kennites have trundled out the inevitable Exocet: Boris is a racist. Not that they quite say that, of course: indeed, the Labour MP Diane Abbott protests that when she attacks Mr Johnson’s "1950s attitudes on race" that’s not what she means at all. But what else can she mean?

It started on Saturday, when Doreen Lawrence, mother of the murdered black teenager Stephen, lambasted Boris, saying that having him as mayor "would destroy the city’s [multicultural] unity."And Mrs Lawrence’s reason for saying this? Seven and a half years ago, Mr Johnson disagreed with a recommendation in the Macpherson report into her son’s death that using racist language in the home or another private place should be a crime. He called it "Orwellian."

I wonder if Mrs Lawrence can understand how outrageous – indeed Orwellian – it is to attack a man as a destroyer of racial harmony, one of the most serious charges you can lay, simply on the basis that he refuses to sign up for every dot and comma of a report of which she approves. While condemning the "grotesque failures" in the Lawrence case which "may well have originated in racism," Boris was far from the only person to oppose that particular Macpherson recommendation. Labour MPs opposed it, too. So did the Government, clearly, because they didn’t implement it.

I felt deeply sorry for Mrs Lawrence after her son’s death, and very angry on her behalf. But as a victim of injustice herself, she should not have made an unjust charge against Johnson. Ironically, amid all this synthetic nonsense about Boris, Londoners were digesting a real horror comparable to the Lawrence case – the report into the killing in cold blood of a totally innocent man, Jean Charles de Menezes. Mr de Menezes would not have died like this had he been white. For Sir Ian Blair, the Met Commissioner, it’s one of many things which makes his record on race so problematic.

Yet who was first to proclaim complete confidence in this desperately tarnished copper? Ken Livingstone, that’s who. And who is it that employs barely more than one top-level black adviser? Ken again. And who is it that regularly comes out with deeply unpleasant race-based insults? That’s Ken too, actually.

If I took the Doreen Lawrence approach, I might say all that proves Ken is a racist. He isn’t, of course. But it does show the danger of bandying around those sorts of charges so casually.


Donal Blaney takes a similar, if perhaps more robust, approach HERE.

UPDATE: There is a headline on the politics section of the BBC website "Black MPs spurn Boris for Mayor".

It is actually a "story" about two Labour MPs, Dawn Butler and Diane Abbott both saying that they do not support Boris Johnson. I may be wrong but Labour politicians saying they will not be supporting a Conservative is as relevant as the announcement that David Cameron will not be voting for Gordon Brown. What is the BBC playing at?

112 comments:

fairdealphil said...

Interesting that now Andrew Gilligan is wheeled out to poo-poo criticism of Boris...

I read his bluster, but as usual he doesn't answer the main point...

Is it ok or not that the would-be Tory Mayoral candidate has described black people as "piccaninnies" and Africans as having "water melon smiles"....?

David Lindsay said...

Oh, give it up! Otherwise, there's going to be nothing but this between now and Polling Day.

At the end of the day, Boris Johnson may be an ideal Shire Tory MP (although even that is debateable - what impression do Shire Tories really wish to give, and why?), but he is hopelessly unsuitable for this job.

And even if he (or any other Tory or Lib Dem) won it, then Brown would just abolish it the way Thatcher abolished the GLC.

Iain Dale said...

Phil, have you actually read either of the articles? If you had you would see the context.

Harriet Hamster said...

Barry Fantoni writes a good letter in the Guardian today

Hughes Views said...

It seems that Iain's "clearly been put up to it by someone"....

Colin D said...

Who doesn't play the racist card in todays politics. It appears to be acceptable to be a deviant, liar, thief and general scallywag but never never say or imply that you dislike or disagree with the ethnic minorities. Doreen Lawrence has the hall marks of an embittered woman.

EML said...

Fairdealphil: Boris has not "described black people as 'piccaninnies' and Africans as having 'water melon smiles'". What he did do was use those obscure words to help illustrate, in a rather humorous way, a point in one of his articles about why Blair loved travelling abroad so much, especially to escape the mayhem he left behind. He was writing in a mildly satirical way.

Grow up.

Iain Dale said...

Hughes Views, that was quite amusing when you wrote it the first time. Now it is getting a bit monotonous...

Jim said...

Oh dear this is pretty desperate stuff from the Tory HQ. Hasn’t the Lawance family been one of this and the last government’s most fierce critics? Now all of a sudden they are Kens stooges …what a load of trollop.

“””” It started on Saturday, when Doreen Lawrence, mother of the murdered black teenager Stephen, lambasted Boris, saying that having him as mayor "would destroy the city’s [multicultural] unity."And Mrs Lawrence’s reason for saying this? Seven and a half years ago, Mr Johnson disagreed with a recommendation in the Macpherson report into her son’s death that using racist language in the home or another private place should be a crime. He called it "Orwellian."””””

So if Boris and a bunch of other floppy haired eton boys all met at a private club, and all had a good old fashioned rant about blacks, Muslims, Irish etc etc etc; because its behind closed “Private” doors its OK… Is that what Boris means by Orwellian. Or does it mean that an Orwellian state might expose something… I think that is what Doreen was getting at…and perfectly right too. When a person make a racist remark in a room full of racists…its still racism.

The Huntsman said...

You say that Red Ken is not a racist?

How do you classify his pithy 'concentration camp guard' remark to the Jewish journalist (whose name escapes me)?

Iain Dale said...

Jim, so you are saying that Andrew Gilligan is a stooge of Tory HQ.... Hmmm. interesting. Idiot.

Rachel said...

Boris must have a real good chance of winning if he's being called a racist before he's on the ballot.

You guys have been to that particular well too many times now, I don't think anyone cares.

Ken still paying for people to visit London who think gay people should be killed?

Jim said...

Iain Dale said...

Jim, so you are saying that Andrew Gilligan is a stooge of Tory HQ.... Hmmm. interesting. Idiot.

August 06, 2007 4:45 PM

Hardly….were did you get that from. Gilligan and Dorren being critics of this government, doesn’t make them Tories by default, and I never said it did.

fairdealphil said...

So Andrew Gilligan writes an article in defence of Boris Johnson...

Is this the same Boris who campaigned for Andrew Gilligan when he was taken off BBC's Today programme?

Thought so.

Roger Thornhill said...

What is the BBC playing at?

I am surprised you need to ask that question.

Ed said...

the city’s multicultural unity

now there's a concept to think about!

Is it ok or not that the would-be Tory Mayoral candidate has described black people as "piccaninnies" and Africans as having "water melon smiles"....?

He didn't, if you read the article he mocks T Blair's patrician attitude to world peace and foreign conflict. He doesn't suggest for a moment that those words are his own.

Iain Dale said...

Phil, would you like to answer the question I asked above. Have you actually read the two articles? Yes or no.

Peter Horrie said...

Iain urges us to consider the 'context' of the offending Boris Johnson article, whilst eml writes: 'What he did do was use those obscure words to help illustrate, in a rather humorous way, a point in one of his articles about why Blair loved travelling abroad so much, especially to escape the mayhem he left behind. He was writing in a mildly satirical way.'

Personally I do not think that referring to people as 'piccaninnies' or having 'water melon smiles' is humorous or satirical. The full quote reads: 'What a relief it must be for Blair to get out of England. 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.'

But if the 'context' defence applies to this article (which I can't see myself), then it cannot with regard to this report by Lynn Barber, who wrote on 5 October 2003:
'Or perhaps sometimes the desire to make a joke overrides his principles? He cannot resist the sort of public-school joke that falls badly on black ears. Rod Liddle recalls that when he and Johnson went to Uganda together to look at the work of Unicef, Johnson cheerily remarked to the Swedish Unicef workers and their black driver: 'Right, let's go and look at some more piccaninnies.' If he does have any serious political ambitions - a question still to be resolved - he will need to wash his mouth out with soap.'

The probable Tory mayoral candidate uses the word 'piccaninnies' to describe black people. It is a serious and damaging mess for the Tory party and David Cameron.

Ed said...

Hasn’t the Lawance family been one of this and the last government’s most fierce critics? Now all of a sudden they are Kens stooges

Is that a contradiction?

Tim J said...

jim - you ask if it would be OK if Boris and a bunch of other floppy haired eton boys all met at a private club, and all had a good old fashioned rant about blacks, Muslims, Irish etc etc etc. You're missing the point (by a country mile). What Boris said was that to make their conversation illegal would be to extend the powers of the police further than had happened even in Ceausescu's Romania. You don't see this?

fairdealphil - Labour Councillor in attempt to embarass Tories shocker! It would work better if you read the articles in question.

It's a pretty poor political effort from Livingstone really - people might well swallow the 'too frivolous to be Mayor' line but the 'more right-wing than Tebbit' and 'racist' lines simply won't fly.

Ed said...

When a person make a racist remark in a room full of racists…its still racism.

So a personally held and privately expressed opinion should be illegal and punishable by the state just because it's not very nice? Next you'll be proposing CCTV in every household to enforce it.

Peter Horrie said...

Just so there can be no doubt, here is the link to the Lynn Barber article in which she reports Rod Liddle's account of Johnson referring to Ugandans as 'piccaninnies':
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,1055894,00.html

Tim J said...

Peter, let me get this straight: Lynn Barber says, that Rod Liddle says that Boris Johnson said...

If you personally don't find Boris Johnson's style of writing humorous it is your perogative not to do so. That doesn't make him a racist.

This is ridiculous anyway - Boris writes an article parodyign Blair's messianic imperialist approach to foreign affairs and Labour supporters crawl out of the woodwork to decry his racism; where were you all when Ken Livingstone called a Jewish reporter a concentration camp guard and told other Jewish developers to 'get back to Iran'?

Peter Horrie said...

'Tim J said...
Peter, let me get this straight: Lynn Barber says, that Rod Liddle says that Boris Johnson said...'

You seem to be saying that Barber's account is unreliable. I don't believe Lynn Barber made it up.

Either Barber made it up or Liddle did, but neither has any reason to do so.

Liddle is one of Johnson's supporters. He has no reason to have invented this. Barber is a well-respected journalist who was writing a broadly favourable article about Johnson.

What is striking is two totally different sources - one direct from Johnson himself in one of his articles - using the word 'piccaninnies' about Africans.

The 'context' defence doesn't wash.

RacerDon said...

For such an apparently offensive word it is amazing how easily Johnson's detractors manage to insert it into every post.

Tim J said...

And this is it? Boris Johnson said 'piccaninnies' to Rod Liddle and should therefore retire to a cave? As I said, Peter, did you have a problem when Ken Livingstone referred to Feingold as a concentration camp guard and a German war criminal?

The use of an archaic word in a satirical way is one of Johnson's stylistic points - during BSE he was delighted that he was able to use the word 'hecatomb' in a national newspaper.

Keep reading lads, there's plenty more articles to go - maybe there'll be something you can get artifically agitated about in one of the others.

Colin D said...

who had the idea of cctv in every home. Jesus, I cannot even get freeview here!.

Hercules said...

Didn't Ken Livingstone say that Trevor Phillips was:

"pandering to the right" so much that the black chairman of the CRE "would soon join the BNP"

I wonder if that is racism or just plain stupid?

Simply the facts said...

Iain Dale and Andrew Gilligan in the Evening Standard are seeking to defend that which cannot be defended. The remarks by Boris Johnson about 'picanninies' and black people with 'water melon' smiles are not isolated or taken out of context – although there is no relevant context in which referring to 'picanninies' is acceptable. To show this here are some of the views of Boris Johnson. They totally justify the criticisms made of him. And the views expressed are shaming and will, rightly, deeply damage those who try to defend them. The following are just a selection by Boris Johnson.

On 'picanninies' and 'water melon smiles' (Daily Telegraph 10 January 2002)
‘What a relief it must be for Blair to get out of England. 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.’

On 'picanninies' again (The Observer Sunday October 5, 2003)‘He cannot resist the sort of public-school joke that falls badly on black ears. Rod Liddle recalls that when he and Johnson went to Uganda together to look at the work of Unicef, Johnson cheerily remarked to the Swedish Unicef workers and their black driver: 'Right, let's go and look at some more piccaninnies.'

On 'racism is natural' (Lend me your ears p210)
'When I shamble around the park in my running gear late at night, and I come across that bunch of black kids, shrieking in the spooky corner by the disused gents, I would love to pretend that I don't turn a hair.
'Now you might tell me not to be such a wuss. You might see that I am no more at risk than if I had come across a bunch of winos. But somehow or other a little beeper goes off in my brain. I'm not sure what triggers it (the sayings of Sir Paul Condon? The Evening Standard?), but I put on a pathetic turn of speed. You might tell me that when they shout their cheery catcalls, I should smile and wave. And, you know, maybe a big girl's blouse like me would break into an equally rapid lollop if it were a gang of white kids.
'Quite possibly. The trouble is I am not sure. I cannot rule out that I have suffered from a tiny fit of prejudice. I have prejudged this group on the basis of press resports, possibly in the right-wing newspapers, about the greater likelihood of being mugged by young black males than by any other group. And if that is racial prejudice, then I am guilty.
And so are you, baby. So are we all. If there is anyone reading this who has never experienced the same disgraceful reflex, then – well I just don't believe you. It is common ground among both right-wingers and left-wingers that racism is “natural”, in that it seems to arise organically, in all civilisations.'

On the MacPherson report (Lend me your ears p211)
'Heaven knows why Macpherson made his weird recommendation, that the law might be changed so as to allow prosecution for racist language or behaviour “other than in a public place'. I can't understand how this sober old buzzard was prevailed upon to say that a racist incident might be so defined in the view of the victim “or any other person”. This is Orwellian stuff.
'Not even under the law of Ceausescu's Romania, could you be prosecuted for what you said in your own kitchen. No wonder the police are already whingeing that they cannot make any arrests in London. No wonder the CPS groans with anti-discrimination units, while making a balls-up of so many cases.'

On the MacPherson report again (Lend me your Ears p426)
'it is as if the PC brigade, having punched this whole in the Metropolitan Police, having forced this admission, is swarming through to take over the entire system. There has been a whiff of the witch-hunt as the Lawrence road-show tours the country, demanding confessions of racism from senior officers, and excoriating those, like Sir Paul [Condon] who are not prepared to defame their entire force. If, in a few years' time, you were to ask a member of the public: “Who killed Stephen Lawrence?”, the answer would probably be “The Police.” Am I alone is wondering whether a sensible attempt to find justice for the family of Stephen Lawrence has given way to hysteria?'

On MacPherson and racism 'in a private place' (Lend me your ears p216)
'What about the Ceauchescu-ish recommendation that it should be possible to legislate against racism even in a private place.’ tolerance and good manners.'

On Mandela and the 'majority tyranny of black rule' in South Africa (Lend me your ears p464)
‘Mandela never accepted the Swiss-style constitution he [de Klerk] proposed; and last year, fed up with being marginalized, de Klerk quit the government. He must have known that this would happen, that the minority tyranny of apartheid would be followed by the majority tyranny of black rule.’

On Mandela, Buthelezi, banana republics and South Africa sinking into 'an Albanian morass' (Lend me your ears p462)
‘He [Buthelezi] was championed by Western conservative leaders as the man with true compassion for the poor blacks, who saw that sanctions would not work, and who rejected the armed struggle…
‘By the end of the apartheid regime, the Zulu leader’s moderation looked perilously like collaboration; members of the Inkatha movement appeared to have been in cahoots with the white security forces: and his own leadership was implicated in the bloody fighting between Inkatha and the African National Congress.
‘Marginalised by the new ANC government, routinely outvoted in cabinet, he might perhaps be forgiven, at the age of 66, for accepting the verdict of history, and conceding the fight...
‘The chief has returned to the free-market liberalism he adopted during the age of apartheid, and his theme is that South Africa is now approaching political despotism and economic disaster…‘
The trouble, says Chief Buthelezi, is the way that the sainted one [Nelson Mandela] is leading the country: not just the Left-wing ideology that has led to a sharp fall in the Rand, a 73 per cent rise in the professional exodus, and which the magazine Business Day says has set South Africa, “firmly on the road to banana republic poverty”.
‘There is a more sinister resemblance, both to the old Soviet Union, and the old South Africa. “There is a tendency to develop towards some kind of autocracy,” he says...
'I can see that there are lots of people who want to come and help us, but I can see why if I were in their shoes, I would also hesitate.”...
‘Buthelezi is now more powerful than for many years. He is in no hurry to follow de Klerk’s whites into opposition.‘But the next elections are in 1999, and if ANC-led South Africa sinks into an Albanian morass, he will not hesitate to say I told you so.’

Tim J said...

Incidentally Peter Horrie - how many sites have you been making this particular point on? Iain's, James Cleverly's, Con Home, Lib Dem Voice - it's like you're a one-man pro-Livingstone rumour unit!

I do hope I'm not paying for this through my Council Tax...

no longer anonymous said...

"So if Boris and a bunch of other floppy haired eton boys all met at a private club, and all had a good old fashioned rant about blacks, Muslims, Irish etc etc etc; because its behind closed “Private” doors its OK…"

The Macpherson report suggested this behaviour ought to be illegal. Boris disagreed with this idea. That doesn't mean he condones racist behaviour, merely that people shouldn't face criminal charges for their opinions no matter how unpleasant they might be.

Peter Horrie said...

'Tim J said...
'it's like you're a one-man pro-Livingstone rumour unit!'

Except it's not a rumour. Johnson said it in the Daily Telegraph, referring to Africans as 'piccaninnies' and having 'water melon smiles' and he is reported by a well-regarded journalist in a mainly favourable article saying it in Uganda. Unless Rod Liddle comes on here and clarifies that Lynn Barber just made it up that is two occasions in which Johnson casually used this phrase, in addition to the other statements which "Simply the Facts" has listed.

Johnson's supporters do not deny he said it - because they cannot - but they argue that it's ok because he was being satirical. This is despite the fact that he is reported to have used it in another entirely non satirical way in Uganda.

The point deserves to be made because some commentators are trying to ignore it - eg Andrew Gilligan - and others, such as Iain, have set out a defence that it was satirical which does not stack up.

Rachel Joyce said...

"I disagree with what you say, but I defend your right to say it".
I think most normal people agree with that. Some very left wing and very right wing people may not. Does Ken support this?

Sea Shanty Irish said...

Iain, greatly admire determination o’ ye and yer motley crew to stand yer post and hold yer ground, blasting away with all barrels, while hordes of crazed opponents descend upon yez . . .

Only problem with this daydreaming, is that ye thinks yer young Michael Cain, etc. preparing to defend RORKE'S DRIFT and pocket yer Victoria Crosses . . .

WHEN IN FACT ye are just more poor damned fodder for traditional Tory incompetence in high (and low) places, awaiting the inevitable with stiff upper lips on the bleak battlefield of ISANDLWANA . . .

Yez can maintain until yer faces are as blue as yer water, that BJ's prose means he's a 21st century Jonathan Swift lampooning racism by adopting its quaint old-fashioned vocabulary. Well, as per usual, yez are HALF correct.

The part yer on to, is that Borish truly thinks he’s writing/ghosting world-class satire.

The part yer wrong about, is that a serious 21st century politician (or political party) can get away with calling little black children "picanninies" and referring to the "watermelon smiles" of young black men. Even the BNP knows better than that.

NOTE that BJ's remarks are just as lighthearted as the comments of former US Senator GEORGE ALLEN (R-VA) during the 2006 campaign when he "playfully" called a student (a native born Virginian of South Asian heritage) who was recording him "Macacca" before an all-white Republican crowd in a small mountain county.

This one smartass remark (immortalized on YouTube, and VERY similar to BJ's style) torpedoed Allen's political career, because it opened the floodgates to other similar indiscretions AND because it drew an unflattering picture of Allen for VA voters, in particular swing voters.

Before "Macacca" Allen was considered a cinch for re-election . . . and THE leading "Christian Conservative" contender for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. The result of "Macacca" was that Allen lost the election to Democrat Jim Webb (and the GOP lost control of the Senate by one vote). Even worse (for him, not America) he went overnight from prime presidential timber to a worthless used toothpick.

Incidentally, the student reported that after Allen called him "Macacca" the local GOPers at the meeting went out of their way to be nice to him, as a way of disassociating themselves from Allen's attack, which was (at the very least) inhospitable in a part of the world that prides itself on it's hospitality (and also the Old Dominion's historic ties to England and the United Kingdom).

Tim J said...

Simply the Facts - they are all Boris's articles, well done. The problem is I don't see how they assist the case that Boris is some sort of bigot. South Africa has serious issues with it's domestic politics and Buthelezi is a deeply chequered figure - good analysis as far as it goes, but it's not racism is it?

As for the criticisms of the Macpherson report for going too far, I don't know if you noticed, but that was also the opinion of the Government, which is why the recommendations weren't implemented.

This is all balls of the first water - 'Labour supporters support Labour'. Whoop-de-doo. Now go and find something else to be outraged about as this is simply pathetic.

nadds said...

Clearly Boris has the trendy leftie elite is areal tiz and he isn't even the chosen runner yet. Both here and CiF the PC brigade are all spluttering over their organic mango and guava smoothies about some one who speaks his mind without the dictats of PC-dom

Its about time the real world stood up for itself

Ethelred the Unhinged said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ethelred the Unhinged said...

Picaninny is an offensive word for black children.

If a politician is foolish enough to use the word, it is not "disgraceful" that he be called racist by Doreen Lawrence, it is understandable.

Goebbels' panglossian view of all things Tory is quickly becoming an hilarious self-parody.

Peter Horrie said...

As an example of how sensitive Boris Johnson's supporters are to the justified criticism that has been levelled about his comments on Macpherson and on 'piccaninnies' and 'water melon smiles', check out how his wikipedia entry has been fiddled to spin them in the best possible light. Under the heading 'Unfounded Criticism of Johnson on Race Issues' his Wikipedia entry states:
'Pointing out these comments were from a single article designed to highlight the condescending racism of the neo-imperial Blairite regime, Johnson's campaign team has accurately rejected suggestions that their candidate might be prejudiced, insisting that he "loathes racism in all its forms".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Johnson

Perhaps Wikipedia will get round to adding Lynn Barber's account of Boris Johnson's comments in Uganda at some point?!

Yak40 said...

Just the usual venom from the lefties, it's the only way they know how to behave. Shout down speeches or simple talks if they don'rt agree with speaker and engage in nasty personal verbal attacks.
Some things never change.

Dunno if Ken is "racist" or not but his support for rabblerousing islamists is pretty objectionable.

Andrew said...

The BBC story follows the piccaninny story by quoting Diane Abbott as saying:

"David Cameron is fooling himself if he thinks that Boris Johnson's 1950s attitudes to race will be acceptable to Londoners, both black and white."

As Diane Abbott is a black London MP, her view is, of course, relevant.

Oluseun said...

For Good sake, I am black and I have never voted Labour.

THERE IS NO RIGHT CONTEXT FOR REFERRING TO A BLACK CHILD AS A "PICANINNY" OR AN AFRICAN AS HAVING "WATER MELON SMILES".

STOP PERPETUATING THIS MYTH.

JUST AS THERE IS NO RIGHT CONTEXT FOR CALLING ME OR ANYONE WHO IS AFRICAN OR A DECENDANT OF THE AFRICAN DIASPORA A N*GGER. Maliciously or in jest.

This is getting so tiring. Clearly Ms Lawrence’s motives for calling Boris a racist were politically motivated - but just accept it the language used in those articles by Boris is OFFENSIVE.

Forget party loyalty, Boris should just apologize and stop making excuses for his use of this disgusting language. No one has the right to refer young children as f*cking picannanies.

Oh and Yes I have read the both of the articles, and my point still stands. The use of this language is not funny, and I don't care if he was using it in criticism of Tony Blair.

And no I am not calling Boris a racist, I calling him offensive.

The Hitch said...

Suprise suprise I dont give a you no what about stephen lawrence or the fact that he was murdered.
We lose better every week in Iran/Iraq(some are even black)what about them ?
His mother is a disgrace and I dont mind saying it.
I wonder when illegal immigrant Damiolas taylors family will get on in the act (have they been deported yet?)

Matt said...

Isn't it amazing that whenever a Tory looks like they might win something Labour wheel out some pet BME individual to, wholly unwarrantedly, play the race card. What is even more amazing is that Livingstone, who is a proven anti semite, has created a mythical "King of the Anti Racists" image for himself which, despite his various anti Jewish remarks and doings, has even managed to fool you Iain.

Colin D said...

Why is racism so one sided! Why cant we spreed it about and mix it up a little. Still cant get freeview, its all those racist persons at the Beeb, doing me down! You've got to admire that Boris chappie, gets all those pc brigade hot under the collar.

The Bournemouth Nationalist said...

"His mother is a disgrace" Hitch

His mother is also a super human. According to her statement in the Lawrence inquiry not only was she born in the UK but she was also born in Clarendon, Jamaica.

I would take anything she says with a pinch of salt

simonh said...

Andrew Gilligan is entitled to his views, just as Doreen Laurence is entitled to hers. I don't think he's a Tory stooge but he does write for a paper which is getting behind Boris in a remarkably wholehearted fashion and has no love at all for Ken. I don't know anything at all about Gilligan's politics but he clearly has great dislike for New Labour (not surprisingly) and makes little attempt to hide it.

Boris has clearly made some unwise and, to many, offensive remarks. He and his fans are trying to brush them off as 'Boris being Boris', an excuse which I think we'll be hearing a lot more of over the next months.

Vienna Woods said...

Why has the English language being purged of words such as piccaninni and nigger. It's the context in which these words were abused in the USA which was wrong. In the German language, nobody protests about "Neger", which is the literal translation of "Nigger". The Americans even ruined a once lovely expression "Gay" and changed its meaning forever.

The Hitch said...

This place is the voice of england (apart from the ramblings of treacherous idiots such as fdp and chris paul)
Cameron could do with having a good read, he may also be shocked to find that white working class folk are "c"onservatives as are many many black people who work'live in the real world.
They are pro law and order, pro disclipline in schools , anti mass imigration.
just who are these morons who vote labour or think Cameron is a good thing?
Viva Boris

Ethelred the Unhinged said...

My understanding is that "Neger" can be translated either as negro or as nigger. One is not pejorative, the other is.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

simply the facts [5.53 PM] Not one of the pieces you quote could conceivably be regarded as racist by any fair-minded person, black or white.

Back in the 'eighties anyone who did not subscribe to liberal opinion was labelled 'fascist'. Then the word 'elitist' enjoyed a short vogue. Now the preferred insult is 'racist'.

At bottom, all these words signify the same thing, viz. 'I am not comfortable with your views and do not want to discuss them.'

Simply the facts said...

It should not be thought that Boris Johnson has confined making racist comments only to black people – and, yes, talking about Africans with 'water melon mouths' is to make racist comments. The following is his view on the Chinese. Apart from its inherently offensive character it should win votes among the Chinese community in London – who will doubtless find it 'amusing' in the same way that black people used to find it 'amusing' to be referred to as 'picanninies'.
‘Chinese cultural influence is virtually nil, and unlikely to increase… Indeed, high Chinese culture and art are almost all imitative of western forms: Chinese concert pianists are technically brilliant, but brilliant at Schubert and Rachmaninov. Chinese ballerinas dance to the scores of Diaghilev. The number of Chinese Nobel prizes won on home turf is zero, although there are of course legions of bright Chinese trying to escape to Stanford and Caltech… It is hard to think of a single Chinese sport at the Olympics, compared with umpteen invented by Britain, including ping-pong, I’ll have you know, which originated at upper-class dinner tables and was first called whiff-whaff. The Chinese have a script so fiendishly complicated that they cannot produce a proper keyboard for it.’ (Have I got views for you p277).
But it seems the 'imitative' Chinese are preferable to Africans who left to themselves, according to Boris Johnson, are capable only of 'instant carbohydrate gratification'.
'The problem is not that we were once in charge, but that we are not in charge any more... Consider Uganda, pearl of Africa, as an example of the British record. ... the British planted coffee and cotton and tobacco, and they were broadly right... If left to their own devices, the natives would rely on nothing but the instant carbohydrate gratification of the plantain. You never saw a place so abounding in bananas: great green barrel-sized bunches, off to be turned into matooke. Though this dish (basically fried banana) was greatly relished by Idi Amin, the colonists correctly saw that the export market was limited... The best fate for Africa would be if the old colonial powers, or their citizens, scrambled once again in her direction; on the understanding that this time they will not be asked to feel guilty. (Spectator 2 February 2002)
Yes both about Chinese and Africans these are racist comments. They also show once more that we are not dealing with single remarks taken out of context.
And Nadds is quite right. This is why people like him want Boris Johnson in - because he is 'some one who speaks his mind without the dictats of PC-dom'. They want it so that if it can be established that it is unacceptably 'politically correct' to object to people talking about 'picanninies' and people with 'water melon mouths' then we can get on to p*kis, y*ds, n*ggers. w*gs and the type of language and concept that has rightly been driven out of any decent part of our society. Perhaps we can also talk about Chinese and Africans in the way Boris Johnson does?
Indeed one should hope Boris Johnson is a buffoon. Because if he is not this type of language and remarks are something much worse.
Why has all this come up now? Because when he was running for nothing more serious than the chairmanship of Have I Got News for You buffoonery might be a good selling point - no one needed to carry out a serious examination of what he said. Buffoonery, or worse, is something quite different if you are putting yourself forward to run one of the most important, and most racially diverse, cities in the world.
But what no one is going to get way with, after all the material produced, is Iain Dale and Andrew Gilligan's attempt to claim that 'picanninies' and 'water melon mouths' were individual remarks ripped out of context.

nadds said...

Worked with South African TV a few years ago (2001)

Had the media market audience segments described to me by a TV executive as "black, coloured, white english, white africaan" and various trendy media type words to describe sub sets

Wouldn't be allowed over here would it



BTW, the executive was black

Sea Shanty Irish said...

The indiscretions of BORISH JOHNSON be they racist or offensive or just the typical tabletalk of a big fat slob provide DAVID CAMERON with the perfect opportunity for his own "SISTER SOULJAH MOMENT".

In 1992, Bill Clinton attacked her sistership as a public demonstration that he would NOT tolerate racist/offensive comments from prominent Black people, even as he was working overtime to win Black voter support critical to his quest for the White House.

IF DC is even half the poltico that BC was & is, then DC must see beckoning before him the political masterstroke that lies within his graspL: denying Borish Johnson the Tory nomination for London Mayor.

This would truly be the kind of "Sister Souljah Moment" that TONY BLAIR achieved before 1997 with New Labour's banishment of Clause 4.

Actually am pretty sure such a creative contradiction of conventional wisdom is totally beyond the ken & powers o' DC & the Magic Blue Circle . . .

What ye'd all clearly prefer is rumaging through yer old copies o' Punch . . . and digging the hole ye've jumped into (in the name of artistic license, mind)deeper and deeper and deeper . . .

Carry on, chaps!

Geezer said...

I see the trot w*****s are out in force on this blog again. Get a life, and try and drag yourself out of the 1970's!

This is a typical left-wing smear attempt. The problem is, that this type of Bulls*** gets wide publicity, even if it never amounts to anything substantial. The BBC are already looking for any excuse to bury Johnson and save Livingstone's repulsive arse. I wonder how many times, between now and the election, the BBC will find an excuse to mention these allegations in some way or another?? I suspect quite a lot! Livingstone doesn't have the influence to bribe ethnic minorities and poor people to vote for him, the way the GLC did (with everyone else's money) so he is now trying to scare them into voting against his opponents, because he knows that there is sod-all reason for anyone to vote for Livingstone! And they have made sure that these allegations come out early so that there is time to try and make a difference when the public voting for a Tory candidate gets underway, in the hope of getting lots of outraged lefty and or ethnic Londoners, to derail the Johnson bandwagon before it get's going. Failing that, it makes sure that there is plenty of time for these allegations to get into the public consciousness before next May.
Johnson shouldn't worry too much though, Livingstone is clearly crapping himself! That can only be good news!

Madasafish said...

Diane Abbott has an ability shared by many Labour MPs - and many Conservative ones as well .

Most of what she says is rubbish, illogical and instantly forgettable...

(She's like Boris in some respects:-)

Alex said...

Mr Horrie,

Whoever you are - I see that youre blogger account is almost pristine - you omit the fact that the original quote was in an article where Boris Johnson was parodying the condescending attitude of those in power in the UK - i.e. neither him nor the Conservative Party.

You also overlook the fact that he is by birth American and of Turkish descent and in fact pro-immigration. In the article that you quote (re: Liddle) he says that his views are:

'free-market, tolerant, broadly libertarian [though not, perhaps, ultra-libertarian], inclined to see the merit of traditions, anti-regulation, pro-immigrant, pro-standing on your own two feet, pro-alcohol, pro-hunting, pro-motorist and ready to defend to the death the right of Glenn Hoddle to believe in reincarnation'

Ed said...

As for the criticisms of the Macpherson report for going too far, I don't know if you noticed, but that was also the opinion of the Government, which is why the recommendations weren't implemented.

Precisely. The idea that these leftists really do want the police prying into our private conversations is truly worrying. What next?

Ed said...

you omit the fact that the original quote was in an article where Boris Johnson was parodying the condescending attitude of those in power in the UK - i.e. neither him nor the Conservative Party.

Every Boris Basher omits this salient point. It's either because they are being disingenuous or they have totally failed to understand the article. I don't know which is more worrying.

Eric said...

What's the Problem Mrs Dale?

Boris can only benefit from such inept attacks.

You have no need to defend him as this form of abusive behaviour against him is self defeating and in the end self destruction.

Just ignore it and let them get on to destroy any legitimate arguments they may have had.

tapestry said...

Ah you see he's got blonde hair, and a sense of humour. That proves it. Anti-racists don't tell jokes, or at least I've never heard one tell a joke yet. He must be a racist. QED.

backtobasics said...

Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the particular case, this debate illustrates the basic weakness of the Boris candidacy - that his opponents can cherry-pick a plethora of embarrassing comments from his writings and put him and the Party on the defensive.

Steven_L said...

'And even if he (or any other Tory or Lib Dem) won it, then Brown would just abolish it the way Thatcher abolished the GLC.' (david lindsay)

An interesting point. Some predict that there will be a 2008 general election to coincide with the Mayoral race.

I hope not, I think that a Boris v Ken race in the limelight would be great for British politics.

Even if Boris loses (which is perfectly possible), or wins and gets abolished, he may become some kind of martyr to free speech - which we desparately need.

chatterbox said...

"UPDATE: There is a headline on the politics section of the BBC website "Black MPs spurn Boris for Mayor"."

I saw that headline, this is the kind of lazy misleading journalism that someone at CCHQ should have spotted and challenged. Come on boys and girls get your act together. Labour are not only using their own spin machine effectively in the media, but the amount of Labour spin put out under the guise of a government information service is truely shocking.
We need to attack and question both these platforms of misinformation relentlessly.

Chris Abbott said...

Has the BBC reported on the latest racist outrage? The Environment Agency has decided to classify Scots, Welsh and Irish as "white other", not simply UK sub-nationalities applicable to all people living in those countries regardless of race, colour or creed, and ban white English people from applying for a training position in East Anglia.

Ironically, "White English" tick boxes are not available on any census returns or official forms. These mysterious types only exist when it suits those who wish to discriminate against them.

Is Auntie Beeb shrieking in horror? No?

Surprise, surprise.

We're living in a potty and sick country.

I don't agree that Boris Johnson is racist - but he can be bloody thoughtless and offensive, and so can Diane Abbott. Some of her remarks about people campaigning for devolutionary equality for England have been bigoted in the extreme.

Stupid man.

Stupid woman.

Regardless of race, creed or colour.

Houndtang said...

As they say on Avenue Q, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist, but I doubt Boris Johnson is any more racist than the average rational person. A racist is someone who hates people because of their race - do you think Boris Johnson is a hater? Ken Livingstone is much more of a bigot than Boris Johnson, he considers anyone who disagrees with his world view (ie that Ken is a genius) to be a facist.

fairdealphil said...

Iain:

Yes, i've read Boris's article in which he describes black people as 'piccaninnies' and Africans as having 'water melon smiles'.

Disappointing to see his defenders trying to say the unacceptable words are not really Boris's, it's only satire, or it's just some clever joke.

EML even suggests that all Boris did was to 'use those obscure words to help illustrate, in a rather humorous way, a point...he was writing in a mildly satirical way.'

Having read it again, I still find Boris's words offensive.

It's no surprise that Boris thinks the Macpherson report was driven by political correctness.

Let's not forget that it was the Tories - the party he wishes to represent as Mayor of London – who refused calls by the Lawrence family and others to hold an inquiry into their son’s unsolved murder.

Macpherson only happened thanks to the Blair Government – and it has become a defining moment in tackling the institutionalised racism identified by Macpherson.

Is it any surprise after what Bullingdon Boris has said that the mother of murdered Stephen Lawrence should have a view that he is not an appropriate person to run multi-cultural London?

PaulD said...

What a pathetic effort by Boris-bashers like Peter Horrie. If they are too thick to see that Boris was projecting an outdated word onto the Queen/Commonwealth as a humourous device, their opinions count for nothing.

Imagine Rory Bremner reading this out, emphasising the P-word in Queen Speak. That's how Boris meant it - no more, no less.

Try it...

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...

Any attempt to sway the outcome of the Mayoral election on the basis of this throwaway line is sad beyond belief.

hatfield girl said...

As a white other, married to an ethnic minority grouper (not quite sure where to class etruscan), what does that make our children?

I'm certain none of us are anti-semitic, but we can be quite sniffy about romans and samnites.

Newmania said...

What an awful lot of white provincial Labour Party poseurs getting terribly offended about a perceived sleight to what they call (I believe ) a community. Boris has been quite impolite from time to time certainly .So what ! He is not a racist , no-one thinks he is and that , if you are serious about it , is that.
Let us not for one second forget that none of these repellent sanctimonious zombies actually give a monkey`s anus about race relations . They are only here as Labour stooges .Imagine ,however ,we had lost all common sense and believed that the plight of this that offended community concerned these Daleks (“ WE will smear WE WILL SMEAR EXTERMINATE”) Lets talk seriously about race shall we…:
In 1997 a study for the Institute for Public Policy Research showed that32% of Hindu’s , Muslims and Sikhs and 29% of Jews would be repelled if a member of their family married an Afro-Caribbean , whereas only 13% of white Britons said they would have a problem.(From How the Liberals Lost their Way by Nick Cohen …..)
Perhaps Seashanty Irish and his giggling imecile cohorts will join me in congratulating the white English on being less racist than their beloved “communities” . As slightest word out of place is a hanging offence they will not be able to resist condemning…..

1 Hindus
2 Muslims
3 Sihks
4 Jews( unless like Ken, they already have …usually do)

Well ?
So will you witless maggots show some principle or admit you are gathered to yip ? Will you admit that you are only concerned on the most specious of grounds to smear a good and kind man .?

They will know nothing of the racial mix and daily life of Londoners bearing in mind the mutual antipathy between many groups .London has the highest proportion of people from minority ethnic groups in the country apart from more who identified themselves as of Pakistani origin. Black Caribbeans form more than ten per cent of the population of the London boroughs of Lewisham, Lambeth, Brent and Hackney. Over ten per cent of Southwark, Newham, The dominant group by a very long way however remains the white British!
The often quoted 40 % figure is this “40% of Londoners belong to a minority ethnic group, including the White Other and White Irish groups.” This is not 40% black however but contains , for example Chinese , French and a rapidly growing mixed population, Sihks Hindus Jews Muslims of all sorts , French(300,000).The overall picture then is not of a black city . It is about 6% each for Caribbean and 6% for the rapidly growing African element ,but a diverse City in which Blacks form a cohesive part in patches. As we have seen that whites are probably the least prejudiced group in it .
The problem is not in fact these specific groups whose voting patterns are in any case unlikely to be crucial but in the wide Liberal “ Progressive” vote who actually turn up to put their cross down in local elections and the perception amongst the white working classes that Boris is old fashioned and a toff. The guilty feelings of the rich whites and the class envy of the poor whites are the real prize. But they are playing dangerous game whipping up class and race hatred . There are real problems for Labour in Barking and the BNP`s progress at Sedgefield was an unpleasant under current . They are happy to encourage further resentment. Well they are happy with any stygian depth of squalid hypocrisy
Inflaming racial hatred to attract Liberals shows us that the fight is not at all between black and white or rich and poor . It is between Good and evil. The people who are here spreading their steaming piss are minor demons true but a nasty reptilian malodorous lot of arse pickers nonetheless.

My contempt for them is as boundless as their ignorance and callous disregard for truth

Jonwig said...

After speaking to a friend recently touring the slums of Uganda I was quite excited to add to this "debate." There she was only know as white women.

All I pray for is that she photagraphed these offenders and if any of them dare run for any elected office she keeps hold of these pictures to use dirty tricks against them later.

antifrank said...

Iain, I have been intrigued at the amount of vitriol directed in Boris Johnson's direction. It seems to me entirely synthetic. Do you know how to trace internet accounts or know of people who do? I get the very distinct impression today that an ability to do so would be highly profitable.

Newmania said...

Macpherson only happened thanks to the Blair Government – and it has become a defining moment in tackling the institutionalised racism identified by Macpherson.

Well I hope we cannot blame it all on the stupid MacPherson report

1 Racial violence is getting worse partly because the police cannot act
2 Racial violence black on white is more prevalent than its reverse
3 Black on black also more prevalent
4 The fastest growing area is Muslim on Jew ..Thankyou for all the help Ken Livingstone

You seem to think that the lives of white boys do not count or should, they all get an enquiry. Why is that and why is it you moved from fabulous multicultural London to Lincolnshire ? Can I remind everyone what an exotic seething cauldron of racial antipathy you chose to live in…

“Lincolnshire is relatively unusual in the composition of its population, being one of the least ethnically diverse counties of the United Kingdom (98.5 percent of the population describe themselves as "white"). Over recent years inward migration by people from ethnic minority communities has increased (particularly to population centres such as Lincoln) but the absolute number of non-white Lincolnshire residents remains very low.”

Ha ha ha you really are full of it aren’t you Mr. White flight we miss you we really do I `m off for a kebab how about you Chps and Bread and Butter Pudding is it?Prat

Oluseun said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Oluseun said...

So NEWMANIA......

can I call your kids "picanannis" then, in a satirical context of course?

What about this black wife of yours whose skin colour you keep pimping out when it suits you during a racially sensitive thread.......

does she have a nice "water melon smile"?

Or is this language only acceptable when it's uttered from the mouth of a Tory (in your eyes)? Oh and try to come up a better defence of Boris comments other than accusing me of being

1) white,
2) a Labour supporter...
3) a non-londoner
4) not British born or raised

I am neither of the above – I’m an Afro-caribbean British woman, from West London.

Plus the fact that other minorities are apparently less tolerant of Blacks than white people certainly does not justify or make Boris’s casual use of racially offensive lauguage (a make a dig at TB) acceptable......


And what the f*ck has the conclusions of the MacPherson report got to do with Boris's use of the word picannany to describe black children etc.

Stop trying to make excuses for the use of racially offensive language by people who are supposed to be the British role models
…....Of all the things to get defensive over, there are better causes and people to fight on behalf.

fairdealphil said...

newmania says:

'The people who are here spreading their steaming piss are a nasty reptilian malodorous lot of arse pickers...'

'...none of these repellent sanctimonious zombies actually give a monkey`s anus about race relations'

no wonder newmania doesn't appreciate that to call black people 'piccaninnies' is offensive...

newmania asks why i moved 'from fabulous multicultural London to Lincolnshire'

er, i didn't.

Newmania said...

Oluseun said...
So NEWMANIA......

can I call your kids "picanannis" then, in a satirical context of course?

1 That is a personally directed insult whereas the “offending word was not “
2 That is not directed in a satirical way it is directed with malice and intent to offend as is the rest of your whereas the offending passage was not
3 I have admitted that the use of the word is impolite even so…..
4 You have replied to an argument about the context of a word by using it directly as an insult ie not in the context it was not framed to show context is irrelevant . This is clearly a self defeating position to adopt . I hope you can understand what I`m saying …um can you its hard to tell.. when you’ve calmed down perhaps




What about this black wife of yours that you whose skin colour you keep pimping out when it suits you during a racially sensitive thread....…

Pimping ? Are you saying my wife is whore tsk tsk ? No not this thread and not especially . A bit cheap isn`t it ? I suspect emotion has overcome you . Cup of tea ?
does she have a nice "water melon smile"?
Well if it wasn`t for the intemperate style above I d probably laugh at that ….sigh.

Or is this language only acceptable when it's uttered from a Tory's mouth?

No I have explained the difference. It is impolite even when employed to direct laughter at the 19th century Liberal Imperialism of Tony Blair using its historical connotations . It is fairly offensive used the way you do but actually you express yourself with such volcanic emotion its sort of invigorating .

I am neither of the above - afro Caribbean woman, west Londoner and a liberal.

Good for you . I `ve never heard of you … would you like a prize ?

Plus the fact that other minorities are less tolerant of Blacks than white people are this making Boris casual use of racially offensive words to make have a poor satirical dig at TB acceptable...…

No silly , you have allowed your tantrum to overcome you . Its rather endearing actually . Clearly it was to show that the application of extreme political correctness on the one hand produces the work of a hundred Labour droogs to find something to use and on the other hand produces silence . This shows that racism is not the point. It demonstrates that a politically correct smearing operation is the point .Boris has been rude about just about everyone over the years.


ANd what the f*ck has the conclusions of the MacPherson report got to do with Boris's use of the word picannany to describes black children etc.

Oh dear oh dear you haven’t been concentrating have you . Have you ever heard of a certain Stephen Lawrence and his mother about whom this thread and the previous one revolves . Well you see …she said these things ok , and it was in this thing called a newspaper ,and this newspaper is called the Guardian. Well it so happens that as has been mentioned she said things like

…..“Mr Johnson wrote a series of articles at the time of the Macpherson inquiry, claiming some of its recommendations were born of political correctness and that the furore around the murder had created the whiff of a witchhunt against the police. The inquiry team found the police institutionally racist.
Mr Johnson was especially condemnatory of a "weird recommendation that the law might be changed so as to allow prosecution for racist language or behaviour …”

So that is what the connection is . Alright ?


Stop trying to make excuses for the use of racially offensive language.


Its only offensive is you are determined to make it so . I admit (again) its an impolite vocabulary but if it was me I wouldn’t be bothering overly given the intention and the context and what I know about the man . You have to remember that Boris has been writing for a long time and is often quite rude You have endeavoured to irritate me and there are parts of it that are a bit unpleasant but equanimity soon returns . I `ve no doubt here are better causes but not in front of me now and by the way you have , by stating your political leanings , demonstrated exactly what I was saying about the real intention of this smear.( See above)

I object to aggressive taking of offence (although I would not say black people were the worst offenders) and object to the way this is used to warp discussion it a balancing of enragement. You obviously think you have some special expertise but unless I am allowed to speak for all white people I 1m not sure that you do

All in all it was a spirited attempt though.

Good for you.

( Jeez I need some sleep)

Little Black Sambo said...

Who is REALLY offended by the words "picaninny" and "watermelon smiles"? Fairdeal & P. Horrie & co, you are striking an attitude, and your indignation is FALSE. Since you KNOW that Boris is not malevolently inclined towards those of other races you are CHOOSING to be outraged, and your outrage is FALSE, FALSE, FALSE. This correspondence suggests to me that that some people are desperately anxious about the outcome of the mayoral election.

Thersites said...

Iain:

Yes, i've read Boris's article in which he describes black people as 'piccaninnies' and Africans as having 'water melon smiles'.


Boris was mocking the soft racism of flying 'messiahs' who think it's jolly nice to visit the Dark Continent so the locals can bask in their charitable radiance. To say Johnson was racist is much like saying Goodness Gracious Me is racist towards South Asians because it also pokes fun at stereotypes, patronising attitudes and modern society.

Disappointing to see his defenders trying to say the unacceptable words are not really Boris's, it's only satire, or it's just some clever joke.

Well it is, and the burden of proof is on you to back your counterclaim up. Can you prove Johnson really had racist intentions here? Or is your argument rooted in FEELING offended?

EML even suggests that all Boris did was to 'use those obscure words to help illustrate, in a rather humorous way, a point...he was writing in a mildly satirical way.'

IRONY. Y'know, like in The Office? Next, you'll be telling me that Johnathon Swift was a bad man for suggesting we all start eating babies...

Having read it again, I still find Boris's words offensive.

That's nice. Is that because otherwise your argument has no legs?

t's no surprise that Boris thinks the Macpherson report was driven by political correctness.

No - just a bad solution to a terrible set of events. Remember we're all in agreement here that there were issues to address. But remember too that Boris criticised the recommendations, not the intentions.

Let's not forget that it was the Tories - the party he wishes to represent as Mayor of London – who refused calls by the Lawrence family and others to hold an inquiry into their son’s unsolved murder.

And the Labour Party has a spotless reputation for holding enquiries?

Macpherson only happened thanks to the Blair Government – and it has become a defining moment in tackling the institutionalised racism identified by Macpherson.

Gemo, as our Latin friends might say. Also, isn't it a bit sordid to claim political points over an inquiry on the death of a 17 year old lad? It's also a moot point: since the Tories weren't in power when the inquiry took place, you can't say it would or wouldn't have happened otherwise. That's a bit like saying the Toxteth Riots wouldn't have happened if Jeremy Thorpe had been PM.

Also, what evidence is there that 'institutional racism' has declined since the report? There's plenty of black kids with potentially bright futures coming out of crappy London comprehensives with less qualifications than other kids. Why aren't you irate about that too?

Is it any surprise after what Bullingdon Boris has said that the mother of murdered Stephen Lawrence should have a view that he is not an appropriate person to run multi-cultural London?

'Bullingdon Boris'... Keep drinking the Labour Tribal Kool-Aid, my friend.

And alas, the bereaved tend to get used to bestow gravitas on popular causes. It's a latter day blasphemy to disagree with them. But, with all due respect, I think Doreen Lawrence is wrong here and is getting sucked into a dirty tricks campaign. Isn't that a bit alarming too?

Oluseun said...

NEWMANIA - I think you are missing the point I am trying to make when you come up with the following....

No I have explained the difference. It is impolite even when employed to direct laughter at the 19th century Liberal Imperialism of Tony Blair using its historical connotations . It is fairly offensive used the way you do but actually you express yourself with such volcanic emotion its sort of invigorating

I don't believe that Boris’s use for the term “picananny” is any less offensive to my usage. I fully understand the point Boris was trying to make in his article but feel that his point could have been for example just as easily made (without losing any of it's meaning) with

....grateful African children….

I (personally) and many others find the word "picanannies" when used to describe black children to be offensive in all contexts. By having a separate word to describe the "YOUNG" of black people (or of any other race - and there are many) in itself is offensive.
It implies that people of black skin colour are of a different and (inferior…….possibly near animal) species to that of white people.

There are many Modern high profile politicians and British writers who have been around as just long Boris Johnson. ANd if one was to comb through all of their previous writings they would not be able to find the usage of such language in any context. Longevity is not an excuse.

Boris was being more than impolite.

LBS

I do not know Boris personally and I doubt you do either. So I have no knowledge of whether the man is or isn't a racist. And I have never accused him or being so.

My outrage is completely real and legitimate. I find it very hard to understand why you have taken it upon yourself to tell me(as a Black person) or anyone else what I and they can or can not find offensive when it comes to the modern day usage of colonial and racial abusive language. Firstly Boris was was politician when he wrote that article and the following offending pieces......he should show some respect. He is not above scrutiny.

The simple history and meaning of the word is offensive. The casual use of racially offensive language is out of order and has no place in British society.

The labeling of anyone not willing to put up with as PC is quite frankly pathetic and is just and avoidance tactic.

Ross F said...

Hear is the problem for the Labour smear squad:

a) They have launched a smear against Boris Johnson.

b) Boris Johnson is so well known that the first instinct of anyone who follows politics is to check the context.

c) Therefore everyone knows that Johnson said nothing that was racist.

d) Everyone now knows that you are liars.

e) You can't afford to admit that you are liars because it will scupper the next smears that you come out with.


Face it your smear failed, you lost. Go home and lick your wounds.

Newmania said...

I don't believe that Boris’s use for the term “picananny” is any less offensive to my usage.


. You are claiming to find a word used by a character to nameless comedic imaginary crowds( conjuring a Tin tin comic and its attitudes which I suspect was from whence the idea came…), the same as one directed at you with malice.
Reading a novel must be fraught experience for you ! Ridiculous , and be fair , the fact you demonstrably did not read the piece in the first place has somewhat undermined your position. I do know the problem ..ahem..



for example just as easily made (without losing any of it's meaning) with ....grateful African children….

That would have been a different point , some of the meaning would have been lost although I accept that it would have been more polite .Please don’t ever write any poetry if this is the way you use English .

I wandered lonely as a cloud
= I hung out like some gas alone
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
=Above lumpy bits of ground

Same fing!



By having a separate word to describe the "YOUNG" of black people (or of any other race - and there are many) in itself is offensive.

Oh quite I `m sure no-one today would use such a word , actually I have never heard it outside of this article and I admit it was insensitive despite the very great extenuating circumstances so to speak.


if one was to comb through all of their previous writings they would not be able to find the usage of such language in any context. Longevity is not an excuse.

Boris was not writing as apolitician and it is exactly because ,unlike a smarmy nit like Milliband , he has had a life and career outside politics that is part of his appeal .He has been writing opinionated and comically politically incorrect articles for twenty years. There is no parallel , Labour have combed through them to find something they can use. Surely you see that is what this is then they found Mrs.Lawrence , an SWP supporter and suggested she use her celebrity to attack a potential Mayoral candidate in order to keep their man in .
That is what I find offensive . I would not use my own child that way and the Englishman in me finds the tell tale creepiness of it odious .Typical Labour ,dreadful people






Boris was being more than impolite.

No he wasn’t` talking to you at all you are imputing intention and the intention was obviously to amuse and parody Tony Blair . He was being linguistically clumsy perhaps . I`ve met him a few times and read all his stuff and it is crystal clear he is not a racist which you have now admitted .You do not even make the accusation then are you not over reacting to what is reduced to the inadvisable use of rude word.. I have no doubt he would be mortified to hear how upset you are but accidental insensitivity is a very different thing .

My outrage is completely real and legitimate. I find it very hard to understand why you have taken it upon yourself to tell me(as a Black person) or anyone else what I and they can or can not find offensive

I do not . My two year old finds it offensive when I remove his plastic Homer Simpson . In itself ‘offended ness’ is of no interest and personally I think in a adult it’s a bit self indulgent . I `m pretty easy going myself but I would like views to be considered as much as someone whose toys get thrown out of the pram regularly. No no if you enjoy it then you go ahead. I do agree that such language is rude and I would not use it myself in any context. Then I think we have established that I am a rather better mannered person than you hmmmm?





The simple history and meaning of the word is offensive.

Have you ever seen a Quentin Tarrantino film or a Spike Lee film . There are worse words and do you sit there in a state of continual outrage ? If so you are unusual. If you were to point at modern rap music I would say you have a better point . Context makes an enormous difference though to any word and I do not believe you are incapable of understanding this
Having said that , I think you have a point here and I think this is where Boris is at fault that is , of course , why the labour Party and its SWP London allies have dug thus up and put it in the mouth of Mrs. Lawrence.


We have agreed he is not a racist and we have agreed that the use of the word picanniny is insensitive.( despite a context that is highly extenuating) I think it is clear enough what this is all about then and it is not racism.. Noone would claim that Boris was perfect and certainly noone would claim that he has not been exceedingly rude from time to time but he is a brilliant man and a genuine man who just might be able to do a lot for London. Give him a chance. I admit I am far more interested in what you say than the imported faux outrageists above ( That is where the PC element comes in not in the word itself ). You think someone who has stuck to the script and kept on message is more to be believed and trusted , is more sympathetic , I do not .I would rather have a real man ,warts and all than a smarmy automoton and if I suspected the attitudes implicit in the word piccaniny for one second were held by Boris I would feel very differently

I suggest you do not pick on one tiny inadvisable aspect of the whole man and judged everything about him from it I suggest you try to see the whole man . In short I suggest that you stop being so prejudiced:)


Lastly , for all I know you are really a propogandist but I have discussed this with black people opf my aquintance who are not who I am now going to pimp (:)( eek)
The reaction I heard was of irritation but in context less so. I have explained at length the foriveableness of the offence but I think with non-combatants Boris has some work to do even given neutrality. If he is selected he will do that work and he will have the great advanatage of only revealing the truth about himself.

The Remittance Man said...

What is the BBC playing at?

In a word: POLITICS

Something I believe is directly counter to the organisation's founding charter. Still, nothing new there, really.

What is interesting is the amount of effort the NuLab machine seems to be dedicating to the anti-Boris campaign. He's not even the official Conservative candidate yet, is he?

Could it be that despite his somewhat clownish image, BoJo has the socialists rattled? From this observer's position it certainly seems so.

Whether this says a lot for Mr Johnson, or not very much for Mr Livingstone I leave for others to debate.

tapestry said...

Labour's stock in trade is blame,accusation, threat. No wonder so many of their supporters leave and join the BNP, which has s similar cultural profile.

Anyone with a sense of humour joins the Conservatives. The last member of the Labour Party known to have one was George Brown, and that's nearly 50 years ago.

The Party's new slogan should be 'Britain Needs Humour. Vote Conservative.'

The trouble is the Lib Dems will immediately match us with 'Britain Needs Sex. Be Liberal'.

Perhaps to forestall that, Boris should choose a broader platform for his campaign - 'Laugh More. Get Laid More.'

I find it very amusing watching him trying to be serious. All this nasty stuff says far more about the unattractiveness of his critics. All Boris must do is be Boris. They won't be able to stop that, however many tedious accusations they drag up.

Ed said...

Newmania you have it totally wrong.

There is only one kind of racism - and that is white on black. Everyone else is just expressing their long repressed culture.

Colin D said...

Ed said...

Newmania you have it totally wrong.

There is only one kind of racism - and that is white on black. Everyone else is just expressing their long repressed culture.

August 07, 2007 10:08 AM
What truly baffles me Ed is : why do ALL these hard done by, repressed people want to risk life and limb to live here?

Norfolk Blogger said...

Is this the same disgraced Andrew Gilligan ? Well, it must be true what he says then !

Ed said...

Quite.

Ed said...

My "quite" was at Colin D.

In reply to Norfolk Blogger all I can say is: not that old chestnut.

Newmania said...

Gordon brown seems to think what Gilligan said was true .

simon woolley said...

Morning Iain!

You may be aware that about two or three weeks ago, on Radio 4s World tonight I heaped praise on the party's successful efforts to be more inclusive and representative, much to the displeasure of both Labour and the Libs. Now I'm questioning whether or not Boris is the most suitable candidate for a city like London, not because of the odd inappropriate comment on race but a deluge of comments over a number of years, you now attack me. Being non partisan means that some is nearly always unhappy about what we/I say. In spite of that I will continue to work with you and other MPs who are keen to ensure that inclusive democracy becomes a reality.

Enjoy your summer.

jjafo said...

Didn't hear these posters condemning Ken Livingstone as a racist when he made those extremely unpleasant and deliberately offensive words to a Jewish journalist. In fact, lots of them went out of their way to trot out the old "Ken is Ken", "shouldn't have said it but he's not a racist" arguments.

As Rachel said above, Boris must really have them worried and he's not even on the ballot paper yet!

Newmania said...

Being non partisan means that some is nearly always unhappy about what we/I say.


Is this someone from the BBC still peddling that ridiculous lie "we annoy everyone" ? Aren`t they funny , the sad thing is they are so biased they are unable to see it. It was about the time that Polly Toynbee who is marshalling the anti Boris campaign became editor of social affairs I began to have doubts...JUST AS ONE EXAMPLE .

Nicodemus said...

We all know the Beeb is biased towards the Left Liberal agenda, so why are we always surprised when they dish out shite like this?

Privatise the lot I say.

Chris Paul said...

What else did she mean?

That Boris Johnson is an accident-prone Bullingdon toff whose grasp of local and community sensibilities is nada, whose delay between brain and mouth is kleine, and whose good old tact and understanding of running along with people is disparu.

Bring it on. Either way the Tories cannot win the London Mayoralty. The City is too sussed to elect in a bumbling classicist who is only interested in improving London for bicycling politicians, bored city boys, and meejah wallahs.

His common touch turns to dust.

Oluseun said...

NEWMANIA
We have agreed he is not a racist and we have agreed that the use of the word picanniny is insensitive.( despite a context that is highly extenuating) I think it is clear enough what this is all about then and it is not racism.. Noone would claim that Boris was perfect and certainly noone would claim that he has not been exceedingly rude from time to time but he is a brilliant man and a genuine man who just might be able to do a lot for London. Give him a chance.

I am perfectly capable to judging Boris on his merits and forthcoming (I hope) proposed policy (rather than commentary), but others may not be so forgiving. Boris’s continued gaffs and insults have damaged his character, the Conservatives and more importantly the ability to give Londoners a Democratic choice for Mayor next year.

Boris is a politician and now a Mayoral candidate – it would be naive of him to not think that many negative criticisms thrown at him were not likely to be politically motivated. He and his campaign team just have to just deal with it.

He his continual usage of potentially offensive language has made it easy for his opponents to assassinate his character and label his a racist, out of touch and a toff etc…… and to successfully cloud the real issues effecting the people who actually live in London. Ken Livingston has made a start in London, he hasn’t been perfect but no one has offered any credible alternatives to his policies. If Boris spends most of his campaign defending his character there will be no effective competition in the run to the Mayoral elections next year and standards will not be driven up, which is a shame.

I suggest you do not pick on one tiny inadvisable aspect of the whole man and judged everything about him from it I suggest you try to see the whole man . In short I suggest that you stop being so prejudiced:)

I would suggest that you go back and read my comments. I have not prejudged Boris I have simply expressed that I have been offended by his reference to black children as “picanannies”.

As I am sure you well known, there is more to racism than name-calling and a ”picananny” is more than a character is an old book. The suggestion that black people are some sub-species – similar to monkeys and other primates has been a continuing theme used to justify various scientific racism, slavery and the rest. The word has no place in modern society….

Black children are simply children not picanannies. I do not sit here in a state of continual outrage, I have only ever heard seen usage of the word picanannies to describe black children once:

I came across the word in and old Barbadian Primary School text book of my mothers along side the following:

Goat - Kid
Sheep - Lamb
Negro - Picananny
Cow - Calf



etc

Oluseun said...

“Picaninnies had bulging eyes, unkempt hair, red lips and wide mouths into which they stuffed huge slices of watermelon.”

I shouldn’t quote from Wiki really but the usage of the word PICANINNY is not simply a word that categorises black children its meaning is derogatory.

It also had a head of wild hair that was disheveled and dirty. “They were also half dressed and animalistic. The picaninny was seen as one of a multitude of black children – disregarded and disposable.” That the Picaninny was often half-naked has been interpreted by some to have implied that black slave parents neglected the well-being of their children.

” Picaninnies were shown crawling on the ground, climbing trees, straddled over logs, or in other ways assuming animal-like postures."

Boris’s reference to African children as picaninnies is vulgar and abusive even in the context he used. To associate the children of Africa with any of the above statements just have a dig at TB is cheap, in poor taste and most definitely unnecessary.

Irony doesn’t justify it’s usage – I read Boris’s blog and he is a very good writer(unlike myself, thanks for pointing that out) so I find it difficult to believe that he was unable to make his satirical point without describing African children so. The fact that Boris is so educated and a talented writer makes his usage of such terms even more indefendable.

But still he chose to do so……….for reasons only he knows……..

RacerDon said...

The irony of all this is that people who are now offended by the use of the *P* word were probably totally oblivious about its use until the smear campaign started, and therefore the true cause of offence was not Boris Johnson at all, but the well orchestrated smear campaign. Very reminiscent of the cartoons in a certain Danish newspaper that could never have been seen by people that were subsequently incited to riot.

flatted said...

What 'racial harmony' is that poor deluded women talking about?

Serf said...

The amazing thing is that all these defenders of a Multicultural London, find Boris's Humour, more troubling than Ken's "Stone the Gays" friends. Mr Livingstone actually gives a platform in London to people whose views make the BNP look like Guardianistas.

Its hard to come to any other conclusion than that the left is as it has always been, loyal only to the revolution. We don't care what our side does or says, because the left is always right.

Ken Livingstone is a person whose personal and professional qualities are suited to the gutter, and yet he is treated as a left wing hero.

Newmania said...

Oh come on Oluseam lighten up a bit. You haven’t really been looking things up Wikepedia in order to get even more offended have you ? What fun you do have .Surely you can see that this is a pretty obsessive way to behave about a word in an article long ago. No doubt Boris regrets it but you give the impression of clinging like grim death to your offended-ness buffeted by the swelling seas of my unanswerable arguments ,that you have entirely failed to address, and in a vacuum where a sense of proportion should be . The obscurity and obsolescence both culturally and semantically is what made it temptingly and grotesquely absurd in the first place. Of course its an outrageous association and virtually unknown in this country. If your concern is that the mayoral process will be dominated by endless trivia then why not move on . It is a most impolite word to use true but its use does not reflect any attitudes and that surely is the main thing.
From you admission that you are in support of Ken Livingstone’s record I have suspicions that we would fundamentally disagree politically . You are are incandescent about what is really a poor joke but unconcerned about the consistent and politically coherent anti Semitism practised by ken( well anti Israel I expect really ) which he uses to garner Muslim support.(And you might refer to the figures on Muslim attitudes to blacks ) You are unconcerned about the support he has given to the IRA , terrorist organisations and various unpleasant dictatorships around the world . You approve , no doubt of his bullying local councils so as to squeeze ever more Council housing into the groaning and failing Boroughs that vote for him and of his hard left Marxist friends who all but destroyed my own Borough under Enver Hodge ( Now in Barking telling everyone that immigrants get all the housing). You approve of the tax payers funds he has diverted into self advertisement and of his own numerous faux pas with far less contextual excuse. You also approve of the black wing of darkness that envelops the relationship between the Labour Party and the GLA and the London plan in effect denying local people any say in planning .

Harsh ? Nothing compared to what the Labour Party was recently saying about him and I daresay you approve of this ridiculous bout of amnesia as well . Alright it’s a nasty word Olusean but get it in proportion .. I think your point about the word is fairish if superfluous you made it before , I agreed ages ago and yet back and back you come to this “word” . Time to move on.

Actually you write very nicely you seem not a bad sort really and I feel confident that you will want to be on the side of the good and the right when it comes to defeating the beast Livingstone .

David Lindsay said...

How many black members has the Bullingdon Club ever had? Has it ever even had one?

In fact, imagine if a group of "piccaninnies" with "watermelon smiles" were to organise themselves into a club (complete with a membership list, officers, some sort of uniform, the works) for the express purpose of smashing up pubs. They would rightly be prosecuted as a criminal conspiracy, and could reasonably expect to be imprisoned.

Whereas Life Members of an organisation of precisely that criminal kind, but comprised of white public schoolboys, can expect to be made Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Chancellor, putative (if doomed) Conservative candidate for Mayor of London, and so forth.

Dommed, because even if Boris stood and won, then he'd only have the job for about six weeks, after which there'd be no such job to have. The position of Mayor of London was invented specifically for Ken Livingstone, in order to get him out of the Commons and thus prevent him from standing against Brown when the time came.

There had to be some official Labour um-ing and ah-ing when he put up as an Independent, but everyone knew that he was going to win. And then he re-joined Labour, which, if it ever now lost the mayorality to a Tory (or a Lib Dem, come to that), would follow the precedent set by Thatcher over the GLC, and simply abolish the position.

Newmania said...

thus prevent him from standing against Brown when the time came

Oh dear David you will have your little joke and your comments about umming and ahing are bordering on psychotic. It was a teeny bit more than that unless you are suggesting the New Labour was a pack of lies from start to finish......aha the penny drops

David Lindsay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Lindsay said...

Sorry - temporarily lost the ability to type.

Anyway, Newmania, this was said even at the time, though admittedly not in the media that I can recall: that Ken was always going to win this position and was bound to stand for it, and that it therefore served the very useful purpose of getting him out of the Commons and thus rendering him ineligible to be a Leadership candidate.

I say again, that was why the position itself was invented. If you don't know that, then you know absolutely nothing about the subject, and therefore should not comment on it.

Oluseun said...

NEWMANIA,

From you admission that you are in support of Ken Livingstone’s record I have suspicions that we would fundamentally disagree politically . You are are incandescent about what is really a poor joke but unconcerned about the consistent and politically coherent anti Semitism practised by ken( well anti Israel I expect really ) which he uses to garner Muslim support.(And you might refer to the figures on Muslim attitudes to blacks ) You are unconcerned about the support he has given to the IRA , terrorist organisations and various unpleasant dictatorships around the world . You approve , no doubt of his bullying local councils so as to squeeze ever more Council housing into the groaning and failing Boroughs that vote for him and of his hard left Marxist friends who all but destroyed my own Borough under Enver Hodge ( Now in Barking telling everyone that immigrants get all the housing). You approve of the tax payers funds he has diverted into self advertisement and of his own numerous faux pas with far less contextual excuse. You also approve of the black wing of darkness that envelops the relationship between the Labour Party and the GLA and the London plan in effect denying local people any say in planning .

ABSOLUTELY NON OF THE ABOVE IS TRUE. I have made no such admission with regards to Ken Livingston. Ken has made anti-semitic remarks on many occasions in attempt to pander to Muslim extremists - this has never doubted/defended or excused by me. But we are talking about Boris Johnson on this thread.

Stop trying to construct a hes done it so Boris can too argument. I would have though that that was beneath you. Ken is what we have at the moment, but Boris hasn't been proved to be any better for London and he's not off to a good start. If he was voted in - would be just swapping one divisive and incompetent fool (with a lose tongue) for another?

It's not an obsession, I though that this the comments section was for discussion?

Newmania said...

If you say so David . Just another pack of new Labour lies then .

Great

Newmania said...

I would have though that that was beneath you.


( Typical woman)

Oluseun said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Lindsay said...

Oh, they really were angry when he put up as an Independent. And an official Labour candidate really did then have to be run against him, for such are the proprieties of these things. But no one ever doubted the outcome. Did they?

enfield tory said...

I think some of the responses from fellow Tories to this are rather dated and sad. It's disgusting that we should even be contemplating, in 2008, running a candidate who uses the term "picanninies" and refers to the "watermelon smiles" of black people.

On some of the blogs it seems like it has just been an excuse for the same sad old racist tendency in the party to show its ugly face to the electorate. This of the, "My gran used to say...," "Why ever did they abolish golly wogs," variety has no place in the modern Conservative Party, members and candidates, and in any event will always bar us from winning London.

V said...

Interesting debate. It seems that to be a part of the left, you need to have an inability to spot sarcasm and wit.

The point I think so many of the left have misunderstood is that words are just words. It is more often in today's nulab world a third party's opinion of the meaning of the words that really counts. In the case of Boris, he cleverly uses the 'wrong' words to point at this control system in modern politics - and the fools of the left demonstrate his point every time!

I do feel sorry for him having to debate politics with such a prepubescent advisory. Imagine how interesting the debates could be if we used adult terms and reference rather than the 12 year olds reason and logic that today's dumbed down politics has produced.