Thursday, September 20, 2007

Harding on Boris

Neil Harding has a rather unpleasant post up which lists 24 reasons why people should not vote for Boris as Mayor of London (for the avoidance of doubt, Neil lives in Brighton).

Longrider called the post "a landfill overflowing with pustulating cack..."
Reading this typically Hardingesque post advocating hatred, we realise that we have not so much ridden into horse-shit city, as tied our mount up at the hitching rail, stormed through the saloon doors, filled the local gunslinger with lead, downed a couple of whiskys and slumped into a chair at the card table for a hand of poker with Wild Bill Hickock.

This post is the usual mix of innuendo, opinion presented as fact, prejudice, deliberate misrepresentation and bigotry. Where, then does one start to fisk such vile diatribe?

Oh, sod it, I really can’t be arsed.

I am not going to fisk it in detail either. However, I will attack the provenance of Neil's sources.
1-11 from Black Information Link
12-24 from Ken Livingstone article on Comment is Free.

So, let us be clear here: the source for Neil's second lot of allegations is an article written by Boris's potential rival, the incumbent Mayor. Well, quite frankly, I think that we can dismiss that (even if you agree with the somewhat tendentious points that are being made—some of them, e.g. the Freedom Pass, are quite involved issues and require a little more than a simple "for" or "against" attitude). Quite simply, Boris is Ken's only real rival, and an article written by the Mayor cannot be taken as a reliable source.

The first lot come from an article (which essentially draws on the discredited Compass dossier) on Black Information Link, which is published by The 1990 Trust—an unaccountable "Black" pressure group. The article states, at one point...
In another article, Boris Johnson says, with reference to the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, that rather than legislate against racist language, it would be "better" to "axe large chunks of the anti-racism industry."

He writes: "We could probably achieve the same results, if not better, if we axed large chunks of the anti-racism industry, stopping taxing so many people with the threat of legal action, and left a bit more of the struggle against racism to tolerance and good manners."

Now, The 1990 Trust is part of the "anti-racism industry" and so are hardly going to be well-disposed towards someone who recommends abolishing large parts of that industry, are they?

Furthermore, whilst The 1990 Trust has, as its first aim...
To establish and influence the practical implementation of the principle that ‘Racism is a violation of human rights’...

... they actually espouse explicitly racist and discriminatory policies, such as the following...
  • ... Positive discrimination legislation for public and private sectors...

  • ... High achieving schools, colleges and universities to have legally binding quotas for intakes for low income Black and Minority Ethnic children...

  • ... an expanded role for credit unions in securing mortgages for Black first time buyers...

Some of their policies are explicitly totalitarian, such as...
  • Action against race hatred in politics by amending the Representation of the People’s Act so that any party, such as the BNP, whose aims, statements, policies contravene race or human rights laws are banned.

And others, such as calls for Britain to apologise for slavery and to pay reparations—issues that have been discussed in the blogosphere ad nauseam in recent months (not least at The Kitchen)—are just deeply unpleasant: there is no mention, for instance, of the fact that Britain ended the slave trade (apart from that still extant in Africa itself) and, indeed, spent more money doing so than it ever made from it.

In short, I consider a good number of The 1990 Trust's Black Manifesto to be both racist and discriminatory and thus their attack on Johnson—for being... well... racist and discriminatory—to be utterly invalid and without merit.

So, both of Neil's quoted sources are deeply suspect and certainly should not be regarded as either unbiased or authoritative.

Also of interest (although I realise that his anonymity diminishes his authority too) is "Gavel Basher", in the latest edition of Private Eye (issue 1193) [not online], who—whilst obviously no particular fan of Boris—writes the following...
Boris's opponents have tried to put it about that he is some sort of foaming racist (a claim that is laughably untrue by the way)...

One last issue must also be taken up here, and it is an issue which Neil been taken to task on before. Neil says:
17. He advocates that the public intervene against yobs yet 'when approached by Darius Guppy, a person later convicted of fraud, to aid in the beating up of a journalist - Stuart Collier - Boris Johnson failed to report this to the police, discussed how badly the journalist would be beaten and agreed to supply his address. Can he explain how anyone who did this can present themselves as a candidate in favour of law and order in London?' [this was all caught on tape].

It was indeed caught on tape, and the man who made that tape was tells the whole story here. [Emphasis mine.]
[Boris] didn't know the heavies were planning to rip Guppy off. It must have seemed a serious plot. Guppy made it clear that he could try other means of finding the journalist's address. Johnson assured him he didn't have to - and did absolutely nothing at all to find it himself. I actually had that confirmed by Clive Goodman, the now disgraced formed News of the World royal correspondent who listened to the tape. Johnson said he would approach a specific third party. He specifically didn't. The only conclusion I can draw is that he was trying to make sure Guppy didn't manage to have the man attacked. Rather, he was stalling, waiting for Guppy's attention span to expire - a safe bet for those who knew him well.

When I relayed this account (after the same issue had cropped up in one of Polly's piss-poor columns), Neil left the following comment.
Oh come on DK, there is a tape recording of Boris agreeing to track someone down so they can be beaten up. Clever attempt at spin there, you make NuLabour look like like amateurs at this spin game.

After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, Freeborn John who, we must remember, made the damn tapes in the first place, came back with this. [Emphasis mine.]
If Guppy had found some willing thugs, and Johnson had not behaved as he did, the Screws journalist would have been beaten up. Johnson went to some lengths to stop Guppy trying other means of finding the address. He undertook to speak to two specific people in News International, where he had worked (at that time he was in Brussels working for the Telegraph). Clive Goodman made enquiries several months later and established that Johnson never approached these people.

It is, as DK might say, pretty fucking clear cut. The tapes have been in the public domain for years and there's no point my trying to distort this.

Despite being pulled up on this before, Neil continues to peddle this allegation even though he knows it to be wrong. I am, once more, reminded of the post I highlighted yesterday, in which arguing with a particular person is pointless because that person has a sort of "re-set" button which ensures that you can never make any intellectual headway at all.

If you want to know what Boris does stand for (and I'll admit that, despite his being a Tory, I regard him as one of the good guys, i.e. a libertarian by instinct), then it is definitely worth watching his 1 to 1 interview with Iain Dale.


Peter Risdon said...

Ref BLINK, this might be of interest.

Prodicus said...

Couple of questions.

1. Is harding a participle of the hitherto unknown verb 'to hard'?

If so,

2. Is there something improbable we should know about the next Mayor of London?

Neil Harding said...

You might be interested to learn I now have 34 reasons to hate Boris Johnson.

Also note how right-wingers attack the source rather than the 34 points I make. At the end of the day disprove the points I make. Boris is clearly a racist and an incompetent buffoon. You may want the prat running a £11bn London budget, personally I wouldn't trust him with 80p to go and fetch my Guardian. Londoners will see through you bunch of fascists.

Oh yeah? So what has happened for the last ten years, exactly?

Over at the ASI, they are posting some of the winning entries of the Young Writers on Liberty. One does not want to put such keen minds off,...