You can tell Boris has been hanging around with Steve Bannon…

So, Boris’s mask slips.

A couple of weeks after it was reported he was hanging around with racist populist Steve Bannon, he comes out with all sorts of racist guff about women wearing burkas and niqabs.

The worst of his comments is this:

If a constituent came to my MP’s surgery with her face obscured, I should feel fully entitled – like Jack Straw – to ask her to remove it so that I could talk to her properly.

If an MP can’t talk to a constituent who has come to make representations to them or who has come looking for their help, then, frankly, they should get better social skills.

Bragging about your sense of entitlement is not a good look.

Why is it always women that get this stuff? From “witches” who in the end of the day were just women whose beliefs strayed from the “norm”, to women who wear Islamic dress, we are considered fair game in a way that men aren’t. Why is it ok that Jack Straw and Boris should be able to tell women how to dress? Why can’t they just make up their own minds?

I find it hard to reconcile a world where women who choose to wear a veil are subjugated and women who come under pressure to be thin, cellulite free, perfectly groomed and available for sex at all times aren’t. Just look at any magazine marketed to women and you’ll see what I mean. Yes, progress has been made, but the world, all of it, is still very much run for men by men.

I actually first wrote those two paragraphs in this post nine years ago and I haven’t changed my mind since. Men, don’t criticise what the woman in front of you is wearing. You have no right to do so. Listen to her. You never know, you might learn something.

Our Christine Jardine  made the point that comments like Boris’s make women’s lives more difficult:

Mr Johnson’s irresponsible comments mocking women who wear a burka are abhorrent. He has proven himself to be a xenophobe.

This desperate pitch to stay in the news completely disregards the women who are facing daily discrimination on our streets.

He should instead be fighting to protect everyone’s right to live their lives as they choose. That is what responsible politicians do.

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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10 Comments

  • David Warren 6th Aug '18 - 10:08pm

    Boris Johnson is so hell bent on getting his hands on the Tory leadership he will come out with anything that he thinks will help him get it.

    This is the latest example.

    He is totally calculating which is why he went with the Leave campaign and then resigned from the cabinet.

    All part of a strategy to appeal to the Tory party grassroots.

    To misquote Shakespeare ‘Yonder Boris has a lean and hungry look. Such men are dangerous and are never at hearts ease as long as they see someone above them.’

  • nigel hunter 6th Aug '18 - 10:44pm

    Whilst his behaviour is aborrent it has got him the media coverage that he craves.The media fall over themselves slavouring at the mouth for more for him and Farage, Brexit and Labour party problems. In the mean time the more SANE parties are ignored and constructive discussions on our future is ignored.

  • Malcolm Todd 6th Aug '18 - 11:41pm

    Hear, hear!

    I wonder if Johnson and Straw believe that blind people can’t be MPs? Did Straw ever discuss with his (in latter days equally illiberal) Cabinet colleague David Blunkett the absolutely necessity of being able to see a constituent’s face in order to talk with them…?

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 7th Aug '18 - 8:42am

    It always makes me so angry when someone claims that they need to be able to see someone’s face in order to have a conversation with them, and uses this as an argument against the burka. For it clearly is just an excuse.
    Does Boris refuse to speak to anyone on the phone, because he would not be able to see their face? Does he refuse to communicate with constituents by email for the same reason?

  • Some of the comments above sound distinctly illiberal to me. In almost all circumstances a telephone call is a second-best necessary alternative to face-to-face. I believe a liberal MP of whatever party can legitimately politely ask a constituent to remove anything concealing his or her face, because that is how we conduct discussions — but proceed anyway if the visitor refuses.

  • Sue Sutherland 7th Aug '18 - 10:29am

    Racist attacks against Muslims are increasing and a large majority of them are against women and perpetrated by white men. Johnson is creating an environment in which these attacks seem justified because he is implying that Muslim women are doing something wrong by wearing burkas and niqabs.

  • Laurence Cox 7th Aug '18 - 11:52am

    Boris is, not surprisingly, completely misrepresenting what Jack Straw said back in 2006:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/oct/06/politics.uk

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 7th Aug '18 - 3:24pm

    Roger Lake, if a woman wears a burka, it is usually for religious reasons, which we should respect even if we personally find her choice hard to understand.
    Most women who wear a burka will never remove it in the presence of a man. For Boris to ask a woman to do so would be disrespectful and insulting.
    Perhaps Boris would prefer to see the face of the person he is speaking to, but he has no right to demand to do so. He does have a duty to serve all the people of his constituency, and to speak with them if they come to him for help, regardless of their religion.

  • The equivalent situation to talking to someone in a Burka would not be talking to someone on the phone, rather it would be Skyping with someone when your camera is turned on but their camera is turned off or turned away. This is of course a somewhat unsettling an unnatural way to communicate with someone but plenty of things in life are unnatural in some way so I agree with people who say this isn’t enough reason to care.

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