Dear Conor Burns,
Yesterday I was shocked by the footage of Keir Starmer and David Lammy mobbed by hostile far-right thugs quoting Boris Johnson’s Jimmy Savile smears from Hansard — and that’s saying something, because yesterday was also the day I was told my beloved father only has weeks to live and asked to sign a “do not resuscitate” form.
Before becoming PM, Boris Johnson was one of the UK’s highest paid journalists (on a £/word basis). He knows full well that lies, smears and casual racism have consequences. After his “letterbox” and “bank-robber” comments about veiled Muslim women, for example, Islamophobic attacks increased 375%. Women reported that attackers directly referenced Johnson’s words.
To pretend there is no link between the words of an influential man and the hostile actions of others is disingenuous in the extreme. It is why we have laws against encouraging or assisting crime, and why your government is currently drafting the Online Harms Bill.
As PM, it is highly probable that Boris Johnson will have received intel from the police or MI5 about Far Right groups who have espoused the Jimmy Savile trope. He will have been well aware of what these groups are capable of. Indeed, circulating on social mediathere is a photograph of Boris Johnson shoulder-to-shoulder with ex-Tory Councillor William Coleshill, who was the ring-leader of yesterday’s Resistance-GB attack on Starmer and Lammy. One of Coleshill’s lieutenants, who was also among the mêlée, has a previous conviction for violent knife crime. It is therefore impossible to believe that Johnson did not utter that Jimmy Savile slur, hiding behind parliamentary privilege, without malice aforethought, knowing full well what the consequences might be, and despite the murder of two MPs in the past 5 years.
The defence that Starmer apologising for the initial failure to prosecute Savile (due to lack of evidence) is equivalent to Johnson taking responsibility for Partygate is entirely bogus. Johnson is an intelligent man, so even if you tell me otherwise, I know he knows it.
Starmer was not involved in investigating or prosecuting the historical abuse —the sort of investigation your man Johnson described as “spaffing money up the wall”. Once the case landed on Starmer’s desk, it was investigated, process improvements were made to aid future investigations and when Starmer stood down as DPP the prosecution rate for child abuse offences had increased markedly. A Tory government knighted him. He is to be applauded, not censured.
Johnson, on the other hand, was involved in the very offences he has sort of (in the first-person plural, rather than the first person) apologised for. He was at the heart of Number Ten’s revelling up on several occasions, breaking the lockdown laws, rules and guidance then in place.Johnson is leading British politics into the sewer and that is not somewhere the majority of British voters want to go, as polls consistently showing 68-70% wanting him to resign prove.
That a British Prime minister thinks it is acceptable to trash the reputation of a decent man purely to deflect from his self-inflicted political woes is shameful. You might expect that sort of behaviour in the Robert Mugabe school of politics, but not in the land of Churchill. It is also a high-risk strategy for the Tory party, given Savile was a keen party supporter and donor, knighted by Mrs Thatcher and spent many Christmases at Chequers during her tenure as PM.
Perhaps Boris Johnson’s intention is to encourage Conservative Party members to vote for Keir Starmer? That is what he is achieving with his disgusting behaviour. If I had wanted to live under a Trumpist government, I would have stayed in the US in 2016… Munira Mirza was right. This is a(nother) massive own goal. His failure to PROPERLY apologise and fully retract his shameful smear shows that no matter how you change the structures at Number Ten or move the people around him, Boris Johnson is incapable of change. Every day he stays in office, our politics are further debased, our democracy is damaged, and our reputation as a country is trashed.
I don’t expect an answer. I imagine you are inundated with letters and emails from concerned and angry constituents, but I couldn’t let this go without you counting my voice to be amongst those saying “enough is enough; time to go, and the sooner the better”.