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another london conservative

"Piccanniny" has been considered a racist term for decades, both here and in the US. Enoch Powell was right criticised for using it in his "Rivers of Blood" speech that resulted in him being sacked from the Shadow Cabinet in 1968. I agreed with Ted Heath on that occasion.

In my experience, gays and lesbians find the term "homosexual" offensive. It is a term that was used when "homosexuality" was illegal or socially unacceptable. That is fact and Conservatives should recognise it too.

In marketing and advertising, language is very important in getting the message across. It is equally important in political campaigning.

The double standards by commenters on this thread are appalling. If Edward Leigh had used "piccanninies", the Cameroons would have been very quick, rightly, to condemn him as a dinosaur and fruitcake. But "Boris is Boris" and different standards apply to Cameron's drinking buddy from Eton and Oxford's Bullingdon Club.

As John Junor used to say, "pass the sick bag, Alice".

london conservative

Unfortunately, Boris Johnson's obvious delight in using terms of racial abuse has brought out of the closet various people who haven't yet come to terms with their own views and how those are regarded as offensive and prejudiced by others. That's bad enough when it's some reactionary bore in the pub, but much more important when it comes to our party's mayoral candidate, who represents us as well as themselves.

I'm reminded of the recent U.S. Senate election in Virginia when many American conservatives and Republicans were amazed that someone they had regarded as a suitable candidate for president as well as the Senate lost all momentum and eventually the election becuase of his use of the word "macaca," a term of racist abuse much less well understood by the voting public than some of those we have been discussing.

london conservative

"it's a new one on me"

Speaking of America, there is a rather sad homophobic newspaper that failed to see the problem with former Sen. Allen, called the Washington Times. For ages it has used the word "homosexual" rather than "gay" despite the obvious inconvenience in terms of the size of the headlines it involves. For some time, the Telegraph here adopted the same practice. It's motivated by one thing: a desire to disagree with how others wish to be described and shove it in their face.

Sean Fear

I think one needs to be a very weird individual to find terms like lady or homosexual offensive. One homosexual friend of mine actually prefers that term to gay, which he says has connotations of campness and frivolity. Presumably he's suffering from some form of false consciousness.

There seems to some kind of game afoot to brand terms that are in common usage offensive, every few years.

Sean Fear

London Conservative - we'd do better worrying about the votes of majorities, rather than agonising about whether the self-appointed representatives of minority groups find this or that word offensive.

london conservative

Hugh Muir, a respected former Evening Standard journalist, is laughing at some of the posts on this site in the newspapers. What kind of party members, or candidate, don't understand how offensive it is to use the word "picaninny," famously brought into British politics in a speech for which the author was justifiably dismissed from the Conservative front bench for racism?

It's probably not worth bothering to address the casual, "one of my lady homosexual picaninny friends likes to be referred to as such and so I hope that our London Mayoral candidate won't be stooping to any 'socialist' (another word from the past) 'political correctness,'" bigotry here. As I think someone mentioned above, Operation Black Vote, Stonewall and others who have been asked by the party to advise us precisely because the party has had a problem respecting many different minority groups in our society, would beg to differ, as would our party leader and our previous Mayoral candidate. Let's not go into an election this size and of this importance with a candidate who doesn't understand or care about basic politics and politeness.

Another London Conservative

Andrew Lilico writes - We are *all* entitled to debate whether the best term is "gay" or "white" or "piccaninny"

Andrew, the thing is, we're not in some debating society at school. We're in London. There is no debate about these matters. It was also silly to drag terms to describe gay men into the discussion, since what we are discussing is Boris Johnson's choice of words to describe black people. "Piccaninny" is by any stretch of the imagination a grotesque racial slur and I think less of anyone who would choose to use it.

Graeme Archer

I don't really understand why homosexuality has come up. But there you go. 'Homosexual' reeks of medicalism (and the greek prefix is almost always mistranslated as a latin one), which is why gay people by and large developed the use of 'gay' as a self-defined alternative term. I know we're supposed to hate the very idea of communities but - pace the poor old Telegraph! - revising and expanding the definition of 'gay' to include self-defining same-sex attractor types must count, I think, for one of the most successful, least-upsetting lexical evolutions of our lifetime. (OF course now I'm showing my age -- Keith's nephews take great delight in telling me that 'gay' is now an adjective to describe something that's rubbish -- eg 'my gay S-Club 7 teeshirt', 'your gay bendy bus on route 38' or 'my Uncle Keith's gay gay partner' ... etc).

I can't see the use of 'piccanninny' in the same way at all I'm afraid. Andrew Lillico always strikes me as someone with a brain the size of a planet, but don't you think you're being a bit too lexico-jesuitical this time Andrew? You don't have to be some sort of complete post-modern deconstructionist to accept that naming-terms carry values which a culture will commonly understand (else language is pointless as we'd all be talking to ourselves), and you don't have to be a lefto-pinko subversive (as I, of course, am) to find the term mentioned in this article a grotesquely offensive racial epithet. If someone of my acquaintance used it I think I would shout aloud in shock and horror.

This isn't to say that the smearing of Johnson isn't similarly grotesque. He's clearly not a racist and we should draw the primary conclusion that the left is concerned about the evolution of the London Tory party into something electable. But Boris Johnson should take more care with his language. What may seem a lark in a Telegraph article will simply lose votes if written on placards and waved around every step that Boris makes in London.

Sean Fear

Hold the front page, London Conservative. If we bring left wing organisations in to advise us on these issues, then they're certainly going to turn against us when we start speaking or acting in ways that are offensive to left wingers.

A good argument for not involving them. After all, when you lie down with dogs, you pick up fleas.


Resorting to calling people stooges won't be very effective either - at least one of these 'stooges' is Simon Woolley of Operation Black Vote who has advised the Conservative Party. If my understanding is right he or his organisation have actually been paid by the party to advise on engagement with black voters.

That's nonsense, Dan.
That link is about young kids shadowing MPs, and Operation Black Vote (Or more accurately Operation Non-White Vote) was one of several sponsors.

Any Conservative that is taking advice from Simon Woolley or OBV needs their head examined. They do not hold the magic key to black voters. NO ONE DOES!
OBV's politics is extremely polarised and divisive and inevitably discourages interaction between different races. People are no longer human beings of whatever origin. You must be black or you are white in the great race war OF Britain.

Take a look at their list of black politicians and see how broad their definition of "black" is.
Why do we assume that all ethnic minorities are experts on everything and anything done by non-white people and can deliver the votes of everyone of similar skin colour?
This is the same mistake that was made in Ealing Southall and we all know where that got us.

Woolley, Jasper, et al are workers in the race relations industry. They need to be seen listing who is "racist and evil" and who is "good and multicultural" so that people remember they still exist. They are self-serving, self-appointed leaders of the mythical black community that myself and every other brown-skinned person in the UK belongs to.

Graham D'Amiral

The standard's article on Boris loses his bounce gives the game away when it says the latest you gov poll includes a much larger sample, infact the initial poll which had Boris 5 points ahead had such a tiny sample it had to be considered totally unreliable. I certaintly wouldn't regard Boris being a single percentage point behind Livingstone when he hasn't even ben selected as a candidate as a disaster.

The fact that Livingstone's cronies haven't bothered to attack Boff, Borrick and Lightfoot speaks volumes for how much Boris frightens them.

Simon Newman

Sean Fear:
"There seems to some kind of game afoot to brand terms that are in common usage offensive, every few years."

This is an important cultural Marxist destabilisation tactic. It's aimed at destabilising society - more accurately, at keeping society destabilised.

london conservative

"Hold the front page, London Conservative. If we bring left wing organisations in to advise us on these issues, then they're certainly going to turn against us when we start speaking or acting in ways that are offensive to left wingers."

The problem has been that the party has spoken and acted in ways that are offensive to London's minority communities. This is one of the things that, for all his inability to deliver effective policing and transport in London, Livingstone has got right and we have got wrong. Laughing at the idea that racism and homophobia were important, dismissing basic politeness to members of minority groups as "political correctness," etc is one of the factors, not by any means the only one, but one of the factors that has helped to land us in opposition in City Hall, at Westminster, and wiped us out as a political force in so many urban areas, with which Sean will be familiar, where we used to hold the seat and now sit firmly in third place.

It's difficult enough to make the case for change when we merely behave as the other main parties do and put up candidates who aren't comfortable using, and don't use racial slurs. But when we have candidates who enjoy using this kind of language, our task becomes harder still. Plainly, Boris Johnson isn't ready for prime time.


London conservative,

well done, and keep on fighting the good fight.


"This is one of the things that, for all his inability to deliver effective policing and transport in London, Livingstone has got right and we have got wrong. Laughing at the idea that racism and homophobia were important, dismissing basic politeness to members of minority groups as "political correctness," etc is one of the factors.."

Absolute codswallop, and you are merely subscribing to the Guardianista way of thinking. Political correctness is NOT "basic politeness" to the brothers and sisters from wherever who share our community. That is common decency, something that the majority of people in this country have shown without the need for a lecture by hand wringing, middle class white liberal politicians, thank you.

It is when that "politeness" becomes intervention with silly and patronising "positive action" schemes, or tokenism, or ridiculous attempts at social engineering that things start to get silly.

Boris...anyone...must be better than what we have now. In my view Ken is a political dinosaur more at home as a shop steward in a 1970s car factory. Get him out...and give Boris the support he deserves. He can't be any worse.


I make no bones about this comment, as I feel that it needs to be made.

After reading the comments of Biodun, or whatever his name may be, I have to say that the Conservative Party is under extreme pressure to have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to have the likes of this individual amongst you. Once upon a time, the Conservative party actually stood for something in the wider context of British politics, now you're just full of reactionaries intent on jumping on what they consider to be the winning ship and not taking a more holistic approach to the what is required to govern the country, never mind what is required to reach out to the electorate.
You've been so effectively moved off the middle road by a far more tenacious Labour government, and you're suffering so badly in opposition, that it doesn't seem likely that the Conservative will be electable within my life time.
As matter of fact, you could very easily beat New Labour at the next general election, as I, who follows politics on a spasmodic basis, can see a major flaw with the way in which Labour has approached their politics, which leaves them very vulnerable, but after reading the comments of your esteemed members, I really do think that another term or two in the wilderness will be most appropriate for such a backward thinking and looking party.
By the way, Biodun lied to you, as the majority of the Africans which have come to the UK have assimilated themselves in to the "Black community" and the ones who haven't, haven't because they've not been here long enough to be able to do so, either way will not vote or more operatively vote for you.

There's no rich majority of Black Africans who are sitting there confused about which party they are likely to vote for, and the sycophantic behaviour of Biodun, does himself and general Black population of this fine isles a disservice.

As for Boris, well if he's that stupid and ignorant that he's going to go around making comments like he has, then he just doesn't deserve to be considered for mayoral role, as it may be a crime to be overtly racist in this society of ours, but it is an even bigger crime to be blatantly ignorant in a multicultural society of which you require their vote. As his comments would have turned away everyone of Black and mixed heritage from his cause.

Sean Fear

Race relations is not something Ken Livingstone has got right . His influence in that field has been completely malign.

As others have commented, "political correcteness" is not about basic politeness. It's about special pleading, and making people feel awkward about holding entirely legitimate opinions.

london conservative

I'm sorry but Ken Livingstone was ridiculed by Tory newspapers and MPs for bringing sexism, racism, homophobia etc into the political debate. You don't have to be a Labour Party supporter to acknowledge injustice, intolerance and indifference.

Placing ourselves on the other side of the argument, that these things weren't big problems, that people should stop complaining, that it was all a conspiracy of the "loony left" partly accounts for our dismal showing among London's minorities today. Look at some former Conservative seats like Croydon North and Hornsey, where our showing today is dismal. The party's hostility has taken its toll among these groups by marginalising us electorally.

Sean Fear

The political complexion of districts changes over time. Our support has declined in the seats you mention, yet grown in places Havering, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Wandsworth.

We aren't going to regain places like Croydon North or Hornsey and Wood Green under any circumstances, because the nature of their populations, and their outlook, has changed so much. We need to concentrate on winning back places like Finchley, Hendon, and Enfield North.

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