“I want to make a general point about the way I do things and the language I use … occasionally some plaster comes off the ceiling because of a phrase I may have used, or because a phrase has been wrenched out of context … But I think it’s vital that we as politicians remember that one of the reasons why the public feels alienated now from us all as a breed, is that too often they feel that we are muffling and veiling our language: not speaking as we find; covering everything up in bureaucratic platitudes, when what they want to hear is what we really think … If sometimes in the course of trying to get across what I genuinely think, I use phrases and language that have caused offence, of course I’m sorry for the offence that I have caused … But I will continue to speak as directly as I can. Because that is what I think the British public want to hear”.
So spoke London’s very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson yesterday when challenged by Beth Rigby of Sky News about his comments that Muslim women wearing burqas resemble letterboxes. Her question was greeted by jeers from the audience - at the front of which were MPs Priti Patel, Nadine Dorries and Liz Truss - but after that answer, there was rapturous applause.
Here's one cheerleader ...
The total lack of self-awareness was picked up by Sayeeda Warsi: “Offensive comments that lead to attacks on the streets are not ‘plaster falling off the ceiling’. It’s the start of the roof caving in and we will all get hurt in the process … The audience groaning and talking over the question was a deeply troubling moment”.
James Melville added simply “This is the normalisation of bigotry”. The man from Joe dot Co dot UK observed “His response is telling. He is appealing squarely to a right-wing base, who applaud the mocking of minorities as 'free speech' and see it as ‘refreshing’”.
... and another ...
That was spot on, as Jacob Rees Mogg, the member for times long past, confirmed in response to ITV’s Paul Brand. “I think his answer … was absolutely right. Politicians mustn’t be bland and boring … they must say things that cut through to voters”. Even if highly offensive? “People mustn’t be snowflakes”. You don’t have to be a bigot to “cut through to the voters”. But that is clearly the line to take.
As the Guardian reported in the wake of Bozza’s remarks last year, “The anti-Muslim hate-crime monitoring group Tell Mama has reported a spike in abuse against Muslim women since Johnson’s column appeared. In the week before the column was published, five women reported incidents against them (all were wearing the hijab, and none wore the niqab). In the week after the column, 14 women wearing the hijab and seven who wore the niqab reported abuse to the organisation”. Plaster coming off the ceiling. Snowflakes.
... and another
Also, the question must be asked: would Bozza and his boosters have been so blasé if the targets of those remarks had been orthodox Jews? No, they would not - so why excuse this selective racism, other than for the hope of a few opinion poll points?
We already knew the Tories were institutionally racist, but up until Bozza’s leadership campaign launch, they’d been pretending otherwise. Now that racism is out in the open. It’s shameless. It’s openly supported. It’s applauded. And it’s utterly vile.
The Blue Team yesterday leapt from gutter to sewer. It’s still the Nasty Party.
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