Some gems from Boris Johnson, the Tory who made me learn to stop worrying and enthuse about Ken:
Boris on Mrs T:
'There is no need here to rehearse the steps of the matricide. Howe pounced. Heseltine did his stuff. After it was all over, my wife, Marina, claimed that she came upon me, stumbling down a street in Brussels, tears in my eyes, and claiming that it was as if someone had shot Nanny.' (Lend me your ears p13)
On the left:
‘Lefties are fundamentally interested in coercion and control, and across British society you can see the huge progress they are now making in achieving their objectives: in the erosions of free speech and civil liberties that are taking place under this government, in the ever more elaborate regulation of the workplace, the ban on hunting, smacking, smoking.’ (Have I got views for you p153)
‘All the warning we had was a crackling of the alder branches that bend over the Exe, and the stag was upon us. I can see it now, stepping high in the water, eyes rolling, tongue protruding, foaming, antlers streaming bracken and leaves like the hat of some demented old woman, and behind it the sexual, high pitched yipping of the dogs. You never saw such a piteous or terrible sight…
‘I remember the guts streaming, and the stag turds spilling out onto the grass from within the ventral cavity. Then they cut out the heart and gave it to my six-year-old brother, still beating, he claimed ever afterwards, or still twitching, and he went home singing “We’ve got the heart! We’ve got the heart!” so we cooked it up with a bit of flour and the German au pair left the next day.
‘No you don’t need to tell me that hunting with hounds is cruel! We don’t need some report by scientists to show that the animals suffer “stress”. No one looking at that deer could deny that this was a sentient being in the extremity of suffering. This wasn’t the stopping of some Cartesian clock. This was savagery…
‘When the 80,000 or so marchers for the preservation of country sports arrive in Hyde Park tomorrow, they will have my support…
‘the strongest argument for protecting the Devon and Somerset stag-hounds – and I pick the staghounds because those are the ones I have observed the closest and which are, in the popular imagination, even more brutal than the fox-hounds. The best argument in favour of keeping them is that hunting is the best for the deer.’ (Lend me your ears p413)
'I will never vote to ban hunting. It is a piece of spite that has nothing to do with animal welfare, and everything to do with Blair's manipulation of rank-and-file Labour chippiness and class hatred.' (Friends, voters, countrymen p146)
‘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)
‘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.’ (Lend me your ears p464)
On race relations:
'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 reports, 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.' (Lend me your ears p210)
‘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 [Blair] 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.’ (Daily Telegraph, 10/01/02)
On the MacPherson Report:
'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?' (Lend me your Ears p426)
'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 Ceaucescu'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.' (Lend me your ears p211)
'What about the Ceaucescu-ish recommendation that it should be possible to legislate against racism even in a private place.’ (Lend me your ears p216)
'As for his [Macpherson's] suggestions that there should be more race awareness sessions for the police, and possible adjustments to the national curriculum to stamp out racist attitudes, he [Macpherson] is vehement that this should not be exaggerated.' (Lend me your ears p217)
‘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.' (Lend me your ears p212)
On affordable housing:
'the solution actually being deployed, which is to build some affordable housing, and designate it specifically for the use of local people. For instance, South Oxfordshire District Council can require that, if there is a new development, it should contain a proportion of “starter homes”, and it can ensure that exceptions are made to normal planning rules to build social housing. You can see the problems already. How can you tell who is “local”? How can you stop the market from asserting itself, as it always will, and tempting the owners eventually to achieve the real value of the property? And what, above all, do you do with the Nimbies.' (Friends, voters, countrymen p74)
On gay marriage:
'if gay marriage was OK – and I was uncertain on the issue – then I saw no reason in principle why a union should not be consecrated between three men, as well as two men; or indeed three men and a dog.' (Friends, voters, countrymen p96)
On the welfare state:
'With £90 billion circulating through the tax and benefit system, and with one in three households receiving a major benefit, Beveridge's plan has become like the Common Agricultural Policy. People feel silly, indeed irresponsible towards their families, if they pass up their chance to take a slice of the enormous communal pie, especially while everyone else is doing the same. The logical answer might be to apply free market principles, and attack this irrational system of subsidy, the excessive disbursements that warp honest people.' (Lend me your ears p412)
Conservatives 'accept that material inequality is inevitable, and that trouble comes from too zealous an attempt to change this.' (Lend me your ears p126)
On his concerns about a Labour win in 1997:
'Golly it occurs to you: no more minimum wage. The polls had been so confidently predicting a Labour victory that you had already made provision to pay your workers at lease £4.10 an hour, putting up your costs and greatly reducing your ability to re-invest. Your mood lifts a notch higher at the thought…You close your eyes, and then you remember that the Social Chapter won't be coming into force after all. Hmm. None of that mandatory four week holiday for the staff, none of that ridiculously compulsory paid paternity leave, none of those extra non-wage costs.... And then another happy thought strikes you. Your children are at a local grammar school, and you had been dreading that Labour imposed ballot about abolishing selective admissions... It has to be said, you reflect, that you have been spared Labour's windfall tax on utility profits.' (Lend me your ears p104)
Not just a twit, but a reactionary dangerous twit whose candidature is a rejection of all the values that London stands for.