Sunday, 12 January 2014

Boris Johnson is wrong

My first post-Christmas article in the Cornish Guardian looked back to a speech made by Boris Johnson in November. But it had to be said. The article was as follows:

One month before Christmas, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson delivered a lecture at an event sponsored by the Centre for Policy Studies.

It was an appalling speech. It showed little generosity of spirit, and was widely condemned – even by close colleagues in the Coalition.

The London Mayor basically declared that greed is good. He argued that it was "futile" to attempt to end inequality in society, stating: “Some measure of inequality is essential for the spirit of envy and keeping up with the Joneses that is, like greed, a valuable spur to economic activity.”

Johnson also mocked the 16% "of our species" with an IQ below 85, and called for more to be done to assist the economic ambitions of the 2% of the population with an IQ above 130.

He actually told the audience of well-to-do high-achievers: "The harder you shake the pack the easier it will be for some cornflakes to get to the top. And for one reason or another – boardroom greed or, as I am assured, the natural and God-given talent of boardroom inhabitants – the income gap between the top cornflakes and the bottom cornflakes is getting wider than ever.”

Many people rightly took exception to his insensitive comments. The Deputy Prime Minister accused Johnson of “unpleasant, careless elitism” and condemned him for talking about human beings like “dogs.” And one tabloid blasted him for suggesting that “some people are just too stupid to get on in life.”

Life has been easy on Boris Johnson and he has done well out of the inequality at the heart of British society. He was very fortunate to be born into a wealthy family and – like David Cameron – educated at the elite Eton College. It was this privileged background that gave him many of the opportunities and contacts that enabled him to make a success of his life.

Indeed, I believe that it was his advantageous upbringing and family links – more so than any “natural and God-given talent” – that helped him become a prominent member of the Conservative Party, the Mayor of London and a columnist for the Daily Telegraph, for which he was paid £250,000 a year – a sum he famously once described as “chicken feed.”

Boris Johnson is wrong. Greed is not good. He conveniently forgets that one of the main causes of the financial crash was greed

And Boris Johnson is wrong on inequality. Politicians – especially the present Coalition – should be doing everything that they can to combat all forms of inequity between the haves and the have-nots.

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