"While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances — to The Lambeth Walk."

Monday, 23 March 2009

Boris Johnson Allows St. George's Day

Mayor of London Boris Johnson confirmed yesterday that St. George's Day, the day of England's patron saint, will not be ignored as normal, at least not in London.

He plans a week long 'Festival of Englishness', and will even take the unprecedented step of flying the English flag, the Cross of St. George, from City Hall. He has also asked that the city be bedecked with the red and white flag for the whole week.

Johnson, pictured above with an English flag, has been quite clear that he doesn't care if the celebration is not politically correct, and thinks the idea of it offending immigrants is ridiculous. He says the week long celebration should be about celebrating England, the English and their historic achievements.

There will be a reading of Shakespeare's Sonnets at the Globe Theatre to mark the 400 year anniversary of their publication, real-ale tastings, and an English folk music concert in Trafalgar Square amongst other events. Johnson will also take a ceremonial tour of the capital in a London bus.

I'm not sure if this is actually good news, however; I feel it is a cynical attempt to deflect rising criticism of the three main parties for despising our country and culture.

I used to be a supporter of Boris, and certainly saw him as an excellent alternative to Ken Livingstone. After his support of an amnesty for illegal immigrants, however, I see him somewhat differently - a charlatan who tricked his way into office by pretending to be a conservative, like so many before him.

Still, at least he's trying to do his job this time; the Mayor should not despise England and its history like Ken Livingstone did.

Livingstone is responsible for many atrocities; getting rid of Routemaster buses, racially abusing a Jewish reporter, inviting controversial Muslim clerics to speak in London, praising the Chinese for their human rights record.

The one that will always stick in my mind, however, was his 2001 attempt to banish the statues of General Sir Charles James Napier and Major-General Sir Henry Havelock from Trafalgar Square.

Both these men were colonial-era soldiers, mainly associated with British military campaigns in India; the former is most famous for capturing Sindh province, the latter for re-capturing Cawnpore during the Indian Mutiny in 1857.

Livingstone claimed he wanted rid of them because he 'did not know who they were or what they had done'.

I think he did know, though, and that was the problem. They are a symbol of one of the greatest nations, civilisations and empires the world has ever known, and that is why he hated them.

He did not get his way, however, and they remain in Trafalgar Square. One of the pleasures of this St. George's Day celebration will be knowing just how much it is irritating Livingstone, and just how much he regrets losing the election to Johnson.

4 comments:

AdamB said...

"One of the pleasures of this St. George's Day celebration will be knowing just how much it is irritating Livingstone"

The only irritating bit must be the fact that Boris's St George's Day celebration plans are virtually identical to what happened under Livingstone last year:

http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor/culture/stgeorge.jsp

Just because Boris says that St George's Day has been ignored in London doesn't mean it actually has. Boris is not actually announcing anything new here.

The Venerable 1st Earl of Cromer said...

AdamB:

Well, thank you for stopping by - I am honoured indeed to receive a visit from a well known Guardianista.

Thanks for the link - I'm not denying it happened. I simply don't remember it, I think because it was spectacularly unmemorable.
I never claimed Boris's would be any better or he was doing it for the right reasons.

However, Ken did have to be cajoled, from what I do remember, and I would challenge you to argue that he isn't an odious fellow who is ashamed of this country's past. But that's ok - I'm sure your blogroll contained a 'Ken Watch' site before Boris's victory - right?

It's also the case that St. Patrick's Day and many other non-English cultural events get a large budget and following in London, and there are councils here that have banned St. George's Day celebrations in the past.

I'm not overly fussed about it myself, but if we can have the notoriously violent and expensive Notting Hill Carnival, then we can have St. George's Day too.

I had a glance through your Guardian archive, particularly enjoyed the one about the BNP in Barking and Obama's ascent marking the beginning of the end for race-based politics - I suppose no one told the US commentators who took the opportunity to remind white voters that his win doesn't make them any less racist, and the 96% odd of black voters who chose him.

C'est la vie, eh?

AdamB said...

"I'm sure your blogroll contained a 'Ken Watch' site before Boris's victory - right?"

What, do you mean the Evening Standard?

I only started my blog shortly before Boris's victory so no it didn't. I'm not even sure whether there ever was a Ken-Watch blog.

"I had a glance through your Guardian archive, particularly enjoyed the one about the BNP in Barking and Obama's ascent marking the beginning of the end for race-based politics"

I'm glad you enjoyed it, but I wasn't arguing that, quite the opposite in fact. It was Boris who made that point about Obama.

Adam

The Venerable 1st Earl of Cromer said...

"What, do you mean the Evening Standard?"

Very droll! Someone needed to keep an eye on him though.

"I'm not even sure whether there ever was a Ken-Watch blog."

I'm not sure either, but I somehow doubt it. Left-wing incompetence and racist gaffes just don't seem to inspire the same degree of joy and allegedly witty put-downs, do they?

"I'm glad you enjoyed it, but I wasn't arguing that, quite the opposite in fact. It was Boris who made that point about Obama."

Yes, but it seems you and he see race-based politics as originating from different places; you, white racism, and Boris the often clumsy and heavy handed attempts to fight 'inequality'.

From your article I gather you think the BNP represent the major 'race-based politics' movement in Britain. Whilst I'm not a member or supporter of the BNP it seems to me they are, at least in their most recent incarnation, in part a legitimate reaction to the acceptable face of 'race-based politics' - for example the Black Police Association and professional race-baiters like Trevor Phillips, as well as their white leftist shills.

These people are more dangerous, in my opinion, because they foster ethnic division whilst claiming to resolve it, whereas the BNP at least are slightly more honest about their beliefs and goals.

They are also dangerous because they are not only socially acceptable but often at least near the levels of power in a way the BNP never will be.

Whilst these things and other ethnic privilieges are in place there will always be a BNP claiming to simply be the logical counterweight for white people.

Regards,
Earl Cromer.