That’s right, isn’t it, Tory MPs? You all heard Ian Blackford – correctly – reminding Theresa May that Boris Johnson published a poem stating that the Scottish people are a “verminous” race that should be placed in ghettos and exterminated.
Mr Blackford continued: “Well, of course, words matter and actions matter. The Prime Minister thought that the man who published those words in his magazine was fit for the office of our top diplomat, and he has not stopped there. He has said that Scots should be banned from being Prime Minister—banned from being Prime Minister, Mr Speaker—and that £1 spent in Croydon was worth more than £1 spend in Strathclyde. This is a man who is not fit for office. It has been said, “The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of comfort, but where they stand at times of challenge and controversy.” This is a time of challenge, so does the Prime Minister realise that not only is the Member racist, but he is stoking division in communities and has a record of dishonesty?
“He has called Muslim women “letter boxes”, described African people as having “watermelon smiles” and another disgusting slur that I would never dignify by repeating. If that is not racist, I do not know what is. Does the Prime Minister honestly believe that this man is fit for the office of Prime Minister?”
All of the factual information in his questions was accurate.
And although Mr Blackford was accused of using un-Parliamentary language, Commons Speaker John Bercow restricted himself to saying Mr Blackford should have notified Mr Johnson of his intention to make this accusation in advance (he said he had). Later, in response to a point of order, Mr Bercow added: “I think it would be wise for colleagues to bear in mind the general principle that one does not impute dishonour to another Member. That is the first point.
“I think it would be appropriate, in the remaining weeks before the summer recess and before a new leader of the governing party takes office, to have some regard to that for which the Prime Minister is responsible. She is responsible for her own policies and for the conduct of her Government and their administration of their affairs, and it is important that questions should be put with that overarching consideration and ambit of responsibility in mind.”
These are all fair points, with regard to Parliamentary procedure. But the question had been asked – in front of packed Conservative benches – and Theresa May could only answer that “I believe that any future Conservative Prime Minister will be better for Scotland than the Scottish Nationalist Party”.
So, if Mr Johnson does become prime minister, his racism has already won endorsement from his immediate forerunner.
And what about all those Conservatives who heard the question and were then called to vote in the third round of their party’s leader election? More than one-third of these MPs voted for Mr Johnson yesterday (June 18), but could reasonably have excused themselves from any accusation of endorsing racism by saying they did not know about Mr Johnson’s actions.
Today they will have no such excuse.
So, if Mr Johnson wins as many votes in the third round, anyone wishing to accuse a Conservative MP of endorsing racism will have at least a one-in-three chance of being right. It wouldn’t be more accurate because it is, of course, a secret ballot.
But the more votes Mr Johnson gets, the more likely a Conservative MP is to be tarred as a supporter of racism and racist comments.
So the results – when they are announced – should make interesting reading!
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