Current Affairs

Evening Standard refuses to put critique of Boris Johnson dossier online

Gemma Pritchard July 1, 2007
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Compass have today issued a statement regarding the Evening Standard’s coverage of their report about London mayoral candidate Boris Johnson.

The organisation, which campaigns for a “democratic left”, published a dossier earlier this month based on his past statements as an MPand journalist, which concluded that Mr Johnson is the most rightwing candidate ever presented by a major party to stand as mayor of London.

Their document highlights a series of Mr Johnson’s opinions expressed in his books and his columns in the Daily Telegraph and the Spectator magazine about gay issues, all of which were made before he became an MP in June 2001.

The Evening Standard today carries a full page critique of the report by Andrew Gilligan, and an accompanying editorial, claiming to refute the report- in contrast to the very limited initial coverage of the original Compass report in the Standard last week.

The official statement from Compass reads:

“Compass yesterday challenged the Evening Standard to place its ‘reply’ online for readers to examine after it put its own report online for comment.

The Evening Standard has so far failed to do this – such examination would have revealed multiple errors and omissions by the Evening Standard on the key issues and confirmed the accuracy of the original Compass Report showing Boris Johnson’s support for the policies of the hard Tory right. Compass repeats its challenge to the Evening Standard to place this material online on its site, in their editorial today ‘Hatchet job’ they claim “this newspaper’s analysis suggests that the Compass publication is misleading. The report includes quotations taken out of context and ignores Mr Johnson’s support of immigration and gay marriage” – we fully refute their claims regarding our report.

Compass are not surprised that the Evening Standard and its reporter Andrew Gilligan have responded to our document of quotes on Boris Johnson as both the paper and the journalist are on record as backing Boris. We are just surprised it has taken them so long.

“We did ask that they put their response on the papers website so it could be debated. But so far they have not been too willing.

“The Compass dossier was extremely comprehensive running to 17 pages with nearly 9,000 words of quotes from articles and books by Boris Johnson.

“The attempted technique of Andrew Gilligan is to disregard all the other material, which definitively establishes the correctness of the points made in the Compass report, and to try to concentrate attention on a few phrases.

“Apart from the fact even these do not bear the justification given, the fact that Gilligan is able to try to question only a tiny handful out of such a large amount of material shows how accurate the Compass report was and how clearly Boris Johnson is a supporter of the policies of the hard Tory right.

“Before going on to the few detailed points the article does try to dispute we may note that the Evening Standard does not attempt to deny the great bulk of the material in the Compass dossier. Among other things that means admitting

1. Boris Johnson supported the Iraq war

2. Boris Johnson supported both the election of George W Bush in 2000 and his re-election in 2004.

3. Boris Johnson opposed the Kyoto treaty on climate change and supported George Bush’s opposition to it

4. Boris Johnson strongly supports nuclear power

5. Boris Johnson, on more than one occasion, talked about black people as ‘picaninnies’, he has referred to Africans as having ‘watermelon smiles’, and claimed that the original inhabitants of Uganda were capable of only ‘instant carbohydrate gratification’.

6. Boris Johnson said that in South Africa under Nelson Mandela there was established the ‘majority tyranny of black rule’

7. Boris Johnson was prepared to discuss with Darius Guppy, who was later convicted of fraud, having a journalist Stuart Collier beaten up

8. Boris Johnson opposed the introduction of the national minimum wage

9. Boris Johnson opposed full pension rights for part time workers

10. Boris Johnson is against the Social Chapter of the EU and against its provision on paternity leave.

11. Boris Johnson is opposed to the congestion charge

12. Boris Johnson supports both fox and stag hunting

13. Boris Johnson opposed the repeal of Section 28 and Labour’s ‘appalling agenda’ of the teaching of homosexuality in schools.”

The Compass dossier reported that in April 2000 Johnson attacked, “Labour’s appalling agenda, encouraging the teaching of homosexuality in schools, and all the rest of it,” a theme he returned to on several occasions.

He expressed support for Section 28, which outlawed the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools.

Perhaps his most insulting comments were made in his book, Friends, Voters, Countrymen, published in 2001.

“If gay marriage was OK ,and I was uncertain on the issue ,then I saw no reason in principle why a union should not be consecrated between three men, as well as two men; or

indeed three men and a dog,” he wrote.

Gavin Hayes, general secretary of Compass, told

“There is absolutely no doubt Boris Johnson’s views on gay equality are at best dodgy and at worst threaten to harm the progress made on gay rights and public attitudes in recent years.

“Furthermore he has stated amongst other things that the ‘metropolitan opinion was wrong footed on Section 28.’ Is this really the man who we want to represent a diverse city such as London? I think not.”

The Conservative government introduced Section 28 in 1988. It was repealed by the Labour government in 2000 in Scotland and 2003 in England and Wales.

A spokesperson for Boris Johnson’s campaign office told that the issue is between Compass and the Evening Standard and they are therefore unable to comment at this time.

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