Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Would you accept an insurance claim from this Mayor?


HIS PORKIES WEREN'T FROM FORTNUMS, but Mayor Boris Johnson had fun whipping up the media outrage.

NO, surely not? A lady on my bus was saying the other morning how privileged she had felt at meeting Boris Johnson, and how friendly he was ,"no side at all", she assured her neighbour. So surely a proper gent like our Boris, who represents London to the world, wouldn't be caught telling porkies?

Afraid he has.

On March 26, hundreds of thousands of trades unionists and community campaigners marched through London at the call of the TUC, to show their opposition to cuts in public services. A band of masked anarchists tried trashing a few banks and causing a disturbance outside the Ritz, but the more subtle and careful group UK Uncut, which makes the link between spending cuts and upper class tax avoidance, took their protest to top people's nosh shop Fortnum and Mason.

They occupied the shop, and er - took tea and cakes and read poetry there. Fortnum's is reckoned among the tax dodgers. After a while the police came, and an officer persuaded the protesters that if they left quietly there would be no arrests made. No sooner were they outside on the pavement than the snatch squads started plunging among them to make arrests. Perhaps they'd not heard what the officer had promised.

Not content with that, Mayor Boris Johnson claimed in remarks on Question Time and elsewhere that the occupation by UK Uncut resulted in substantial damage to the store: "They did tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage”.

Friends of mine suggested that this was because "Somebody trod on a tube of pate", or "Some fool knocked over a jar of olives", but not everyone took it so lightly. Boris and co. even seemed to be accusing poor Ed Milliband and Labour of responsibility because he had addressed the TUC crowd up in the park. Others seemed ready to accept that the entire crowd, if not personally rampaging through Fortnums, had merely been in town to provide a cover for this outrage.

But hang on.

A spokesperson for Fortnum and Mason has confirmed that any damage during the occupation was minimal. So Labour's London Assembly member Navin Shah from Brent and Harrow asked Boris what evidence he had to support his his claim. Boris replied:

“The point that I was making was that the occupation of Fortnum and Mason was pure vandalism … The fact that Fortnum and Mason is owned by a charitable foundation, provides many jobs and pays its taxes was clearly lost on these ‘activists’.”

That’s the same body that was exposed by the Charity Commission as a vehicle to channel donations to the Conservative Party, says a Labour blogger:


Perhaps an exuberant Boris was confusedly recalling his days with the Bullingdon Club? This elite young group, to which Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne also belonged, had a traditional reputation for getting very drunk, making a nuisance of themselves and smashing up restaurants. It did not matter because if necessary Daddy could pay, or you would not have been invited to join their select company. They knew they were superior.

And now they are intent on wrecking what's left of the Welfare State and the educational aspirations of the common herd, it's for our own good, you understand, even if they have to find others to accuse of damaging things, by showing disrespect for the property and status symbols of the rich.

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