Wednesday 15 February 2012

If you're Irish ... don't come into the Mayor's Parlour

Those damnable Fenians at the Dorchester: sláinte, Boris ...

Yes, you might think it too soon to be talking about St Patrick's Day, but not for some, it seems.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson , has decided to start the celebrations early with some remarkably ill judged comments about the former St Patrick's Day gala dinner, which he described in an interview in the New Statesman as 'lefty crap' and ' a dinner at the Dorchester for Sinn Fein' costing £20,000.'

Not surprisingly, this has outraged the large Irish community in London, and was reported in the Irish republic with disbelief, damaging the always fragile relations between the two countries.

What on earth does this say about Boris Johnson's view of the Irish? Sinn Fein? Is he really saying the gala dinner was a hotbed of Irish republicanism? All those middle managers' wives in John Lewis ball gowns making polite conversation, while their husbands talked about golf and drank themselves under the table?

May be take some time to acquaint yourself with Irish history, Mr Mayor, and acquire some understanding of the complexities and subtle differences between nationalism, republicanism, patriotism - and terrorism.

But Boris would appear not to care very much about putting things right.

The London based 'Irish Post' reports:

"On Monday, the Mayor’s office was pressed on whether an apology would be offered in light of the remarks.

But a spokesperson for the mayor responded by saying that “they have nothing to add (to previous statements) and “it was about the use of public resources”.

A spokesman for the mayor’s office had previously said: "The Mayor does not believe that he was elected to organise exclusive and expensive dinners at the Dorchester hotel."

Hmm. No. Hang on, what was Boris elected for, can anyone remember? Mrs Angry thought she would try and remind us all what he does with himself, on our behalf, God bless his Honour, like the great man he is.

Anyway, so: the Mayor's declarations of gifts and hospitality. Let's see ... what have we here? Oh well done: couple of hampers from Boots in December - gave them to charity. Not wanted. Ah: a Fortnum and Mason's hamper from the Hinduja family ... he would have given that to charity, wouldn't he? No?

(Here is a funny thing, by the way: since Mrs Angry noted the gifts and hospitality last night, the Mayor's declarations have become unavailable. Perhaps they are being updated: Mrs Angry will check later).

Well, Boris might not like Irish gala dinners. Dreadful lot, the Irish. Always fighting and dancing and moaning about the IMF and singing Kevin Barry at the drop of a hat. Not our sort of people.

Boris does like pretty much any other sort of dinner though. Churchill dinners. Dinner at the London Transport museum. Ah, yes: dinner with the Eton Society. The London Government dinner, courtesty of the City of London Corporation. The Berkeley Group Dinner. Dinner with the Telegraph Media Group.

Boris likes to lunch as well. Australian Business lunches. The Heron Lunch. Oh: lunch with Evgeny Lebedev, of that very obliging newspaper, the Evening Standard, and then, hello, what do we have here, lunch with a James Murdoch, from something called News International. Fair enough, a man's got to eat, and you can't stand by and let Brian Coleman have all the hospitality fun, can you?

Our Mayor may not have been elected to organise exclusive and expensive dinners at the Dorchester, and he may not wish to attend the Irish gala event, but it seems he is not averse to attending a controversial, exclusive and very expensive event held on behalf of the Conservative Party.

See the article here from the Daily Mail last February 'Revealed: the £1m bash that Tories are keeping hush hush' ... This is the Black and White Ball, organised to raise funds for the Conservative party, with tickets costing from £400 to £1,000 a ticket and which, according to his declarations, Boris attended on February 7th. Right wing crap, rather than lefty: so much more acceptable. And no Fenians allowed through the door: one or two in the kitchens maybe, doing the washing up, and, one might hope, pissing in the soup.

Just one thing, though: if between 2-3 % of Londoners define themselves as Irish, and an even larger percentage are of Irish descent, then, oops: insulting so many voters in the last few weeks before the election may not have been the wisest move.

Here in our Barnet and Camden GLA constituency we have a huge Irish community, one of the largest in the Irish diaspora. We also have Brian Coleman. Oh dear, Boris: what have you done?

Never mind: it's all great craic, isn't it Mr Mayor?

Here is a real Fenian for you: a favourite song of Mrs Angry's granny: sadly, couldn't find a version by Daniel O'Donnell.


baarnett said...

The Londonist has more on this, here.

Feel free to leave a comment like this, but Mrs A now has a validation step which says: "Please prove you're not a robot"

Been having trouble with the leading councillors, Mrs A?

Mrs Angry said...

oh ... I've noticed that on other people's blogs too. Blogger seems to want to deter as many commenters as possible, doesn't it?

Just having trouble generally, baarnett.

Mrs Angry said...

Richard Logue: answering your comment on previous post - yes, Boris' attitude smacks of a peculiarly nineteenth century disdain for the Irish, and one which will damage his already slippery position in the polls. Someone has argued that Irish Londoners are traditionally Labour voters: I don't accept that & I think in terms of the Mayoral vote any Irish who would have voted for him for being a bit of a laugh will most certainly not be amused this time.

Richard Logue said...

Boris can't afford to slip up given his tight lead over Ken however in Barnet I wonder how Boris's vote will hold up given that the hugely unpopular Coleman is the Tory assembly candidate. Can't think of anything Coleman has done to court the Irish vote.

hanlemic said...

I'm sure Boris will get a "warm" reception at the St Patrick's Day Parade & Festival in Trafalgar Square next month, assuming he turns up. Will he send his deupty, Richard "Irish builders" Barnes instead?

The silence from Coleman on this, given that Camden is part of the area that he reperesents, is outrageous, though not that surprising. Amazed that Dismore has not said anything either.

Mrs Angry said...

The Irish community is invisible to Tory politicians, pretty much: this always puzzles me as I think we have the largest Irish pop in the UK. Similarly, although on a lesser scale, the Italian community in Barnet, now third generation and still strong, but always overlooked. Irish people are generally tolerant until matters of national pride are raised: uh oh, Boris ...