The idea of Mayor Johnson as an Olympic hero is risible
I wonder if I was the only person in Cruel Britannia to be staggered by the sight of the morning front pages on Monday. Jingoistic headlines, a sea of red, white and blue, and syrupy subheads like ‘Our Olympic summer of Love’ assaulted one from end to end of the newsagent.
I am by now completely ready to accept that it is me being wildly out of step on the economic folly of the Olympic Games. While everyone else is convinced it’s Our Finest Hour, I see it as Wehrmacht Officers getting pissed on vintage Champagne in the Berlin bunker during April 1945. And I know that a minority of Sloggers see it as sour grapes, but I am quite content to let history be the judge of whether it was an entirely fine or bloody stupid idea to host the Olympic Games.
Aside from the obvious drivel about Britain getting anything except an enormous bill it can ill-afford out of all the brouhaha, I find the entire fanfare about the Olympic Ideal complete bollocks. Propped up by junk food retailers and tooth-rotting soft drink multinationals, it bears about as much resemblance to the ancient Greek ideal as the EU does to a cradle of democracy.
But in the light of subsequent events, shooting ahead to Number One as my reason for distaste is the reality of how the 2012 Games turned Boris Johnson into an unworthy national hero.
Boris Johnson is very fond of showing off his facility with Ancient Greek, even at times getting a touch of the Rompuys by turning to poetry in the dead language. As BoJo seems overfond of a bit of Rompuy-Pompuy, perhaps the connection is understandable.
Now then, that was a cheap shot, wasn’t it? Well in a way, yes, it was: but then if Mayor Johnson shows myriad signs of not knowing how to behave, as a politician he has to accept that sort of thing. Returning to the Slog mantra, “Listen not to what they say, but watch instead what they do”, this analytical golden rule is especially important when getting to grips with our elected officials.
It is very clear indeed that Boris Johnson doesn’t know how to behave. While the bloke obviously has bottle – and has been known to see off muggers attacking his constituents – his past acquaintance with jailbird fraudster Darius Guppy has clouds over it (he once agreed to beat an innocent person up on Guppy’s behalf) and he is infamous for using pugnacious aggression and foul language when faced with opposition. At Oxford he behaved on the whole like an unruly yob. I once watched him attending an enquiry into his mayoral behaviour, and his response to that challenge was petulant bordering on nasty. He walked out on his interrogators in the end…not what we should expect from those who are supposed to be accountable.
Some of his behaviour in recent years has been nothing short of outrageous. Over and over again he has ignored banker criminality, and insisted that it is somehow our duty to leave them alone. When first faced with evidence about Newscorp guilt on several levels, Johnson dismissed it as “concocted leftwing poppycock”. Despite Murdoch’s obvious chairmanship of a media group found guilty of the most brazen invasion of citizen privacy, BoJo continues to make a point of showing his support for the Digger in public.
I know I go on about this quite a bit, but to fight the corner of bankers who are heavily implicated in pauperising those who elected him (and support a gargoyle whose creatures abused those electors appallingly) is an important piece of empirical evidence. What it suggests very strongly to me is a lack of respect for the electorate. We can in turn add to this Johnson’s behaviour in taking on the Mayoral challenge originally, when he pretty unceremoniously dumped his Berkshire constituents in favour of the potentially glittering prize of a platform from which to attack his fellow Old Etonian David Cameron.
The bottom line, therefore, could be said to be a strong tendency for Boris to obey his own appetites and ambitions – without giving too much thought for the community as a whole. In recent months he has, for example, shown little or no concern for the survival of his Party, destabilising it (and perhaps his country) in a bid for personal success at the expense of the Prime Minister. One could argue of course that this is just politics, and that is true: but it’s not every day that the country faces a social, economic and fiscal crisis all at the same time. Plus – let’s be real about this – Johnson is being childish and extreme in his prosecution of what he rightly says is a broken promise in relation to Heathrow runways. Fine up to a point, and as the Mayor of London he must have the city’s best interests at heart. But is whether the additional plane volume lands to the east or the west of London really worth splitting the British Government about?
Some would continue to argue that Boris Johnson is merely looking after the interests of the capital he represents, but other actions by the mayor cast doubt on that as a motive. In order to maximise the mobility of his VIP attendees and foreign visitors at the Olympics, he actively encouraged Londoners to quit the Tube that gets them to and from work, while organising traffic flow in such a way as to benefit those VIPs, not the London economy.
The net result of this officious scaremongering was real damage to the retail economy of the city – a damage cynically dissembled by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt in the face of much evidence to support retailer society complaints.
All this brings me to the main observation I have to make about Mayor Johnson. For although he revels in Greek classical tradition, he is far closer to being the archetypal Roman dictator-rabble-rouser: one who uses the Greek word demos pejoratively to mean ‘mob’ rather than ‘those to whom I should answer’.
Johnson shows all the signs of being a born manipulator of the vox populi – but in no way recognising an obedience to that voice unless it suits his book. As it happens, I have some highly controversial views on such obedience myself: I fail to see why barbarian voices owned by feckless yobs and criminals should be influential at all. Further, I don’t see why voting should be ‘a right’. For some individuals under certain circumstances, it should be earned. I do recognise that the creation of an oligarchic elite as a result of such ideas is an ever-present danger; but more and more in the 21st century, I find myself observing that we have a tiny, unrepresentative, unethical, corrupt and undemocratic elite anyway…and it was so-called universal suffrage that put them there.
The point I’m making bears repetition. I am a passionate believer in having respect for the People if they deserve it; and I am an equally passionate opponent of those who manipulate the People in the name of democracy. For the reasons outlined already, I believe that Boris Johnson is very firmly – and knowingly – in the latter camp. And it is for this reason above all others that The Slog fingered him four years ago as, alongside Harriet Harman, the most dangerous politician in Britain.
Plato believed that a democracy could only work if the all those voting were in possession of all the relevant facts – what he termed ‘the informed electorate’. Roman thinkers in turn recognised the problem of electors being informed…and Roman dictators saw clearly how they could be distracted by ‘bread and circuses’.
All these opportunities, manipulations and rabble-rousing are precisely what Boris Johnson has just achieved thanks to the Olympics. I do not doubt that threaders will appear, after this piece, and call that kind of conclusion miserable, mean and so forth. But those of such opinions should bear several things in mind.
First, 90% of the popularity of the games derived from the phenomenal success of our athletes. That success had nothing whatever to do with the London Mayor; in fact, it stemmed from the kind of State investment in sport for its own sake (via John Major’s lottery vision*) Johnson and his ilk find abhorrent. Indeed, his hero Murdoch has destroyed UK professional football at the grass roots by eschewing such an investment entirely. He does not see that as his responsibility, because he is just another neocon terrorist who thinks he owes society nothing. (Rupert Murdoch is unique in that, although a laissez-faire nutter from top to toe, he doesn’t even feel a responsibility to the shareholders.)
Second, despite endless Government attempts at ruthless spin on the subject, the fact still remains that the Games have gone wildly over budget, and the final costs are still to be assessed. The blustered generalities offered by Boris about payback are so much piss and wind: the lost productivity and retail income in London alone probably ensured that the 2012 Games will never pay for itself. Sharp-eyed media hounds may have noticed that Hunt’s Ministry put out a low-profile press release the week before last saying that the Olympics stand ‘a good chance’ of repaying the outlay by 2020. Funny how everything is due to come good in 2020: it’s going to be a helluva year one way and another.
Third, the MSM press were quick onto the disgraceful ‘tickets for the boys’ way in which ordinary fans were, to a large extent, kept away from a ringside seat at the Olympic Games. Within 24 hours of row upon row of empty seats appearing as corporate troughers lost interest, a Soviet-style operation went into overdrive as squaddies and G4S wasters filled the seats, until enough could be given away to unsuspecting passers-by.
A flurry of statistics followed, most of which were shown to be either made-up or disguising the fact that all the plum views and best seats had in fact gone to the usual suspects. A senior media chum of mine pointed out that, given he was surrounded by celebs at the opening ceremony, he doubted very much if any of them had entered a draw to get their prime positions. This too is typical of Boris: he has a major-league social superiority complex, and it wouldn’t occur to him to do anything else with the best tickets.
Nevertheless, in the light of these obvious holes in BoJo’s veritas, the degree to which he played the vox populi card at yesterday’s parade had to be seen to be appreciated. In an act of engorged hypocrisy, he hogged, hugged and virtually tongued the Olympic Games by both heaping praise on the athletes (in a tone suggesting they might all be the progeny of his regular sexual dalliances) and proclaiming the success of the British people in ensuring its success. It was a masterpiece of giving credit to those he hopes will one day make him Emperor, having conned the media into believing that he alone deserved all of it.
And I am bound to observe, this shot of him mouthing off at a brutalist podium – sourrounded by what looked for all the world like adoring Hitler Youth at a Nuremburg Rally – was especially unfortunate.
The last time I took a swipe at Boris Johnson, I was amused to read a thread afterwards asserting that I had only innuendo at my elbow. I often wonder if such comments are planted by Sarkist trolls of one form or another, but on the whole I doubt it. In a similar fashion, anything I write suggesting senior Tory malfeasance gets abnormally low referrals from the Telegraph. There is a very solid 45+ segment of Conservative voters who will always see any criticism of their Establishment as socialist trouble-making. They are only slightly different to the Guardianistas who see anything beyond their polemical rigidity as a sign of madness, in that while the Torygraph continues to allow dissent, the Grauniad doesn’t.
Anyway, Borius Caesar has Cameronicus Maximus in his sights, and Hunto Jeremigula ready to complete the full picture of depraved decadence if required. All we need for the full set now is Lucia Menshitia as Caesar’s daughter, but word reaches me that she has fled Rome in favour of the New World.
*Readers should note that I too dislike the lottery as a cynical tax on the gambling addiction and hopeless hope of Britain’s Underclass. My point here is that BoJo’s supporters do not accept that any socio-State support of this nature is ever a good thing. The Olympian performance of the UK’s athletes did, I think, prove them wrong.