Monday 28 March 2011

Flowerpot Boris was for student violence before he was against it

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has badly overstepped the mark today, ludicrously claiming that Labour leader Ed Miliband will have been "quietly satisfied" by the violence in the capital which risked overshadowing the TUC's March for the Alternative on Saturday. (Labour is reasonably asking Johnson to withdraw the slur; while Boris will be jolly pleased to pocketed another £5k in chicken feed for dashing off the column, perhaps he ought to offer to pay this week's fee to charity as a penance too).

To be fair, government ministers do not seem to have indulged in the same kind of silly partisan knockabout as Boris, whose comments so badly fail the test of treating democratic protest with respect, on which Stuart White blogged so well here on Saturday night. (Credit to Tory policing minister Nick Herbert whose sensible statement clearly distinguished support for peaceful protes and condemning violence, saying that "The policing of the main rally shows how peaceful protest can be supported when the organisers work with the police").

Meanwhile, Boris can hardly be surprised to be accused of silliness and hypocrisy for a response in the lower traditions of student politics, though LabourList's post on that theme from Shelly Asquith misses out what is surely the most hypocritical about the claim.

While Mr Edward Miliband was doubtless a rather diligent student, Boris was certainly not above indulging in a bit of pointless violence to brighten up a night out. In his youthful days, Boris was more than quietly satisfied when his Bullingdon pals threw a flowerpot through a restaurant window. Indeed he was so proud of the incident that he even invented the tale of being arrested over it, as Jim Pickard of the FT has reported in exquisite detail, even though Friends of Boris have since revealed that he scrambled away through the flowerbeds to avoid being caught. The story of the arrest was simply a bit of bigging up bravado which grew in the retelling.

What should certainly help Justice Secretary Ken Clarke's rehabilitation revolution is that three of the Bullingdon pals involved in that night of window smashing flowerpot hi-jinks were to take up places on the Conservative benches in the House of Commons, a suitably lofty vantage point from which they can (rightly) condemn those students who emulate their violent antics today.

Of course, the Bullingdon boys indulged in violent antics for no cause greater than the nihilistic thrill of smashing the glass. I am not convinced that much more can be said of those given the rather lofty title of "anarchists" in reports of Saturday's violence.

1 comment:

T.N.T. said...

I guess Boris's ludicrous remark has to be seen in the context of trying to ingratiate himself with Tory party activists. Why? Because there is a very good chance Boris will lose the London mayoral election to Ken next year, which puts him out of one job, but in with a chance of something much bigger. If the Tories lose the 2015 (or sooner) election, Dave will presumably step down. If Boris can find himself a safe parliamentary seat at said election, then I think we are looking at Johnson vs Osborne for the Tory leadership contest. And that is what he is aiming for, surely.