An Unpopular Article 904

This article is probably unpopular. The point of this blog is not to make you agree, but to make you think; if I did not express views which are not the view of the majority, there would be no point in writing at all. This is not an applause seeking echo chamber of popular sentiment.

Boris Johnson has no more ardent political opponent than I. But some of the hysteria about him is overblown.

As a teenage delegate to a Liberal Party conference in 1976 (I think in Llandudno), I had to fend off the amorous advances of a politician who persisted even after I plainly told him I was not gay, and I ended up stabbing his wandering hand with the pin of my delegate’s badge, after which he went away. I regarded his behaviour as over drunken and over randy, but took the attitude then and now that humans are not perfect and inclined occasionally to fall prey to their basic instincts, especially when drinking. If we expected everyone to be perfect, we would live our entire lives in a state of disappointment. I expect a majority of sexually active adults have similar experiences at some time. I do not believe it healthy or sensible to elevate them to serious crimes.

(For the sake of clarity, I should add that I have never personally been accused of an unwanted physical advance).

I really do not care whether Boris Johnson squeezed Charlotte Edwards’ leg 20 years ago. I firmly believe women are every bit the equal of men, and I do not understand why it is somehow reckoned that Ms Edwards, and others in the same position, were unable to stab his hand with a fork, throw a drink in his face, or embarrass him by telling him clearly to stop. I do not accept the notion that difference of age and status between full adults makes firm rejection impossible – that thought did not cross my mind with the politician in Llandudno, who was a good deal older, more famous and wealthy than I, and in a position to further my political ambitions. Ms Edwards saying nothing at the time, saving it up for twenty years and then attempting to use the claim to cause major damage, appears to me behaviour as bad as the original.

I do realise that in this I have outlived the mores of the times. But no matter how fiercely I oppose a no deal Brexit – and I think it would be disastrous for every one but a few nasty financial speculators – I do not think the approach of throwing the kitchen sink of accusations against Boris Johnson is good for the long term health of politics. It also obscures with chaff the allegations of real wrongdoing, like directing public funds and assistance to the company of a woman with whom he was in a sexual relationship. That should be investigated. That is real wrongdoing.

Johnson’s arrogance before the Commons in refusing to apologise for the prorogation of parliament was deeply unpleasant, but I do not approve of the effort to delegitimise his use of language. Words like “surrender”, “betrayal” and “traitor” have centuries of political use behind them. Boris Johnson is as entitled to free speech as anyone else. It is perfectly legitimate for opponents to argue that his language is deliberately divisive and thus people ought to vote against him in the interests of harmony. The electorate can pay heed or not to such argument, as they see fit. But it is quite another thing to argue that such language should be excised from public life. Robust debate is an important aspect of free speech. Controlling the language of your opponents is the antithesis of democracy. I am firmly with John Stuart Mill on this one.

People were offended by Galileo and Darwin, by Gandhi, by Jesus and Mohammed. Causing offence is important to human development. Everyone is entitled to do it, even Boris Johnson.

Finally I had the misfortune to see Jess Phillips on BBC Breakfast TV yesterday morning and she gave, as an example of abuse of MPs the fact that every time she speaks about anti-semitism in the Labour Party she receives emails stating that she is exaggerating, or is a puppet of Israel. A great deal of what MPs plainly see as abusive online activity looks to me simply like people expressing their disagreement. People can be entirely right or entirely wrong in their views, but they still have a right to express them to Members of Parliament. I found Ms Phillips objection to people expressing disagreement deeply worrying.

I have no doubt MPs do receive death threats – I do myself sometimes, generally originating in Florida for some strange reason. But I do wonder how much exaggeration there is of this.

The Laura Kuenssberg case is seminal here. You may recall that 35,000 people signed a 38 Degrees petition calling for her removal for pro-Tory bias and after a major headline news campaign headed by the Guardian and BBC, claiming that the petition was full of abusive and misogynistic comments, 38 Degrees deleted the petition. However I went through all the comments personally and could only find one comment and a single related tweet which was in any way abusive or misogynistic. When I challenge 38 Degrees to produce the evidence of abuse, there was none. That was a very worrying example of the limiting of perfectly legitimate protest against Kuenssberg, on an excuse of “abusive social media” which was a lie.

There is insufficient plain speaking already in politics and the attempt to further contain and constrain, and limit political thought to acceptable channels and vocabulary, is worrying. Let Johnson say what he wills, and let the electorate judge that.

As for behaviour, I do not wish to see any further correspondence of the Overton window with sex negative feminism. I can personally think of one mutually fulfilling physical relationship in my own history, where the crossing of that difficult line from friendship to physical intimacy did indeed start with the squeeze of a leg under the table. The initiation of more intimate physical contact is the most critical point in the complex courtship rituals of developed human societies. To insist that verbal agreement must always be sought before a move to kiss or an exploratory caress of a leg or a shoulder, is a fundamental change in culture which I am not at all sure is desirable. The essential qualifier is of course that, if the other person either verbally or by action does not welcome the tentative first move, then the initiator must desist immediately. It is my own belief that sex-negative feminism seeks quite deliberately to invalidate perfectly normal heterosexual courtship and that the chattering classes have far too readily adopted this, in the interests of identity politics.

I am perfectly aware that what I have written will offend some pleasant people and is against current fashionable thinking. I am also well aware that less pleasant people will utterly misrepresent what I have written as a justification of sexual assault. I deplore entirely any non-consensual sexual activity forced on anyone, and I believe that the slightest indication of disapproval should lead to an instant stop. But to deny the existence of non-verbal communication, and make an issue of non-violent initiation of contact outside an erogenous zone, is to me not legitimate. I would also refer you to my last post, and the extraordinary difference in the treatment in these matters by the media and political classes purveying identity politics of those within the neo-liberal “centrist” consensus, like Bill Clinton and Brendan Cox, and those outside it, like Boris Johnson, Alex Salmond or Julian Assange. This is a misguided and an extraordinarily selective outrage.


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904 thoughts on “An Unpopular Article

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  • DiggerUK

    Arguing over shades of grey has its place. What you fail to address is how those who are vulnerable, because of a petty weakness, can defend themselves against a predatory sexual advance.
    Predators, such as your recent references to Brendan Cox, rely on those weaknesses. Silence being the biggest vulnerability for some…_

    • craig Post author

      Digger UK,

      I am arguing that a non-violent contact to a non erogenous part of the body is not a sexual assault.
      There are people who cannot give informed consent, children being the most important and obvious category, and those with serious physical or mental weakness. If however you posit a category of people who appear entirely “normal” but have a small hidden weakness that prevents them giving informed consent, you are making a very special case and one which it may be unfair to expect a potential sexual partner to be aware of if they are not told.

  • N_

    Words like ‘surrender’, ‘betrayal’ and ‘traitor’ have centuries of political use behind them. Boris Johnson is as entitled to free speech as anyone else.

    That a leftwing critic can perceive an unwanted lecherous touch 20 years ago and the current deliberate whipping up of popular feeling against “betrayal” and “surrender” when the country is so close to a racial bloodfest as somehow in the same basket of intellectual issues is a victory for Number 10 media handlers.

    • craig Post author

      I do not for a moment believe the country is anywhere near a racial bloodfest. if you actually believe that, I fear you are hysterical. I accept that one is too many, but the number of racially motivated violent attacks in the UK is fortunately very low .

      • Jan Brooker

        I don’t know anything of your personal situation BUT my partner is Black. Twice in the last 2 years she has been thrown off a train: the first time after being assaulted by a drunk white guy [caught on CCTV], who mimicked Jamaican Patois [my partner speaks perfect English; she is an English Teacher] then had to be physically restrained by other passengers. He stayed on the train, she was ‘put off’.

        The second time the assault was by Railway Police, who bruised her in their aggressiveness. So obvious that where this was going two [White] women tried to intervene: ths first by sitting next to her, to try to protect her; the other by videoing the Police assault.

        This is an everyday occurence for so many Black people [just doesn’t make the news].

        • nevermind

          A doctor on a Call out in Gt. Yarmouth had fingers pointed at him as he was walking along, with one man coming up to him, saying that ‘people like you are the reasons why I voted leave’. A rather shocking occurrence.

          I have no more comments to make than that as I am not partial to this national spat which looks and feels like Rumpelstizkens last moment.

          Its good to see that the City of London corp., in their haste to avoid new financial regulations are putting up billions for PM Cummings to spend. As for the blond bounder who could have asked his exes for non disclosure agreements, may he rot in hell.

      • Vivian O'Blivion

        A racial bloodfest may seem unlikely from suburban Edinburgh but how representative is surburban Edinburgh?
        Johnson’s rhetoric is cheered to the rafters by “Tommy Robinson”, Katie Hopkins, Jaysda Fransen and others on the extreme right.
        “Robinson” urges his followers to “back Boris” the champion “for the people” v’s “traitors in Parliament” and “corrupt elite scumbags”.
        The Football Lads Alliance talk of “corrupt and elite” MPs “taking orders from a foreign power”.
        The followers of these groups are uneducated and susceptible to manipulation.
        Think back a few months to footage of Para squadies in Afghanistan using images of Corbyn for target practice.
        Think back a couple of weeks to the riot in Govan when Loyalists attacked a Republican march. Flyers handed out in advance of the riot called for “strength through unity”.

        • bevin

          ‘The Football Lads Alliance talk of “corrupt and elite” MPs “taking orders from a foreign power”.’

          In general terms they are correct. Intelligent people might differ as to the identity of both that foreign power and the MPs but …

        • Squeeth

          This could be drowned out if only Liarbour wasn’t a stooge of the establishment and made noise about an egalitarian state rather than a fascist state with a few decent features.

        • Vivian O'Blivion

          This morning, someone poured petrol over themselves at the Parliament, carriage gates. Not prejudging but sounds like a deranged gammon. I take no pleasure in this but I predicted self immolation by Brexit fanatics months ago.

      • Vera

        Craig, I agree with many of your views, but not with your line of thinking concerning sexual harrassment of women. I do not dispute you honesty here nor do I doubt that you always acted appropriately yourself. However, I would wish that you would think about this again. Having had to move, act and speak professionally in public as a woman myself, I know what I am talking about: Sexual harrassment, like sexual violence, is not caused by “humans” occasionally “fall(ing) prey to their basic instincts, especially when drinking”, but rather is a very calculated move to exert power over another human being, mostly a woman. This is true for rape as a means of warfare to subdue and humilate another nation as well as for “private” misconduct in the form of sexual harrassment under the dinner table at a professional or semi professional gathering. The latter behaviour and its condonance make it more difficult for women to move freely in the public space and exactly this is the intention of the perpetrator. Ironically, in the very article in which you defend and expand Boris Johnson’s freedem to act and express himself in public, you shrink the same freedom for women. If Boris had “fallen prey to” his “basic instincts”in that case, the alleged harrassment would have taken place openly, what, however, did not happen. In fact, most “humans” commit sexual harrassment as a very calculated way of assertion of power, but yet so that it will not be discovered or sanctioned.

        • PhilW

          Vera, could I take a moment to discuss this?

          My experience, as a man, is that I am constantly tempted to touch, but it is a temptation that I resist. I do not feel that there is a power element to it, it is just sensual and sexual. When it is ok to touch it feels wonderful. I assume that most people, certainly most men, feel the same. Do you think women generally do not have the desire to touch?

          I would hate to feel my touch is unwelcome. Some men seem oblivious to the consequent shudder, and a few seem to enjoy it. For some the power of their position allows them to get away with it. I would think Johnson is in this category, as is Trump. And the more they get away with it the more they feel it is ok to do it. I cant see that Johnson would feel the need to exert power in this way certainly not in a calculated way.

          Of course for the person being subjected to the touching it will feel as if the power difference is being emphasised if they feel powerless to protest. And it is certainly an abuse of power to make use of the fact that the subject cannot object. Johnson’s behaviour sounds vile, certainly not a clumsy sexual advance – rather a sexual assault. But it seems to me an abuse of pre-existing power for sexual ends, not a drive for power per se. Am I being naive?

    • Tom Welsh

      “…when the country is so close to a racial bloodfest…”

      Hmmmm. “The Tiber foaming with much blood”, eh?

  • Deb O'Nair

    The pointlessness of the groping story is that while we have every reason to believe Charlotte Edwardes and no reason at all to believe Johnson it is one person’s word against another and nothing can be proven, unlike the Arcuri case where formal investigations are underway. This is reflected by Johnson himself, who is happy to flatly deny the groping story but refuses to even address the Arcuri allegations; he knows that no one can prove the groping story whereas it could be established that he is guilty of misconduct with Arcuri. It would be nice if the media could take as much interest in Boris Johnson’s financial backers and their vested interest in no-deal Brexit as they do in 20 year old allegations.

    • Tom Welsh

      “…while we have every reason to believe Charlotte Edwardes and no reason at all to believe Johnson it is one person’s word against another and nothing can be proven…”

      Isn’t that rather self-contradictory? If there is no evidence, and nothing can be proven, why should we have “every reason” to believe one person rather than the other?

      That sounds to me very much like Mrs May’s assertion that, while she had no evidence whatsoever about who was behind the Skripal attacks, it was “highly likely” to be Russia.

      • Deb O'Nair

        Because one (Edwardes) appears to be a decent person with some integrity who has reported, for no obvious benefit, a minor incident of sexual harassment which occurred 20 years ago whilst the other is a known and proven sociopathic liar with a massive reputation for repeated sexual misconduct. May’s reasoning was not based on any such clear cut ‘likelihood’ and required the suspension of facts, contradictions and ridiculous assertions to stand scrutiny.

        • Glasshopper

          How does a gossip columnist who dredges up a 20 year old “experience” on the eve of a political conference have integrity?

          Chutzpah? Maybe.

          Integrity? Not so much.

      • Borncynical


        I agree. In terms of ‘credible’ allegations and witnesses one only has to recall the events of 12 months ago to see an example of making presumptions about culpability. US Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh was accused of serious assault (dating back to when he was a college student) by an eminent and well-respected psychology professor, Dr Christine Blasey (Ford). Initially Kavanaugh appeared to be on the back foot because the accuser was a respected, demure professional. But Kavanaugh was cleared when it was found that Dr Blasey’s testimony was full of holes and she appeared to suffer from a degree of fantastical imagination. At least one other woman came forward with allegations against Kavanaugh but then admitted she’d made it up to get attention.

  • Martin

    Yes and no. It is certainly true that free speech is an intrinsic part of a healthy democracy, and that includes the hyperbole of politicians. However, context is everything. That Johnson is using the language of war, betrayal and surrender to stoke division and even hatred is confirmed by the video of the MP and Cummings. The MP had received death threats and took Cummings to task on this use of language. Cummings didn’t condemn the death threats, but said instead that the MP ought to vote for Brexit. This was implicitly justifying or endorsing violence as a means of political leverage. Would you justify the Mail’s. Enemies of the People and Farage’s “knife” comment with reference to Mill too? I wouldn’t, and neither would Amber Rudd. Or Johnson’s sister (and presumable his brother too.) What reason have we to trust Johnson when/ if he claims innocence of malign intent when he uses this language? So yes, and no. Johnson has proved himself to be profoundly – and perhaps even constitutionally – untrustworthy, so has not earned the tolerance we would otherwise extend to people pushing the boundaries of free speech.

    As regards the groping, yes and no too. I think you’re right, that flirtation is almost inevitably going to include an individual going over the line. The alternative would be asking for explicit permission before the line was crossed, and this isn’t how flirtation works. But as before, context is everything. This is Boris Johnson we’re talking about. Our Prime Minister. Just because he reduces Allison Pearson to a panting infatuee every time she meets him should not blind us to the likelihood that he has crossed the line more than most, has used his position of power to excuse this crossing the line and – as in the more serious case of giving public money to a woman he may well have had an affair with – this tells us something we have a right to know – confirms what we already know – about his loathsome character.

  • David

    The recent controversy over the son of a former Canadian PM, who is apparently also PM, dressing up inappropriately – was similarly defused in my mind when it was mentioned that the Canadian newspapers had had all images for approx six months and chose to print their articles on blackface “shock/outrage” – at the very start of their election process.

    that’s not news, it is manifestly news manipulation with malice aforethought, I reckon the same might apply for Ms Edwards memory. I might be wrong, often am.

    • Glasshopper

      You’re clearly right. Unless she’d forgotten about it for 20 years and only remembered on the eve of the Party Conference when she had a new job and wanted to make a splash!

  • James C


    That’s an interesting take on the current news about our Prime Minister.

    You will, no doubt, sense that by that I mean that you have raised some points with which I agree and others where I feel you have missed the taget.

    So, let’s start with the former.

    Yes, there certainly is some absurd hysteria in the criticisms of Boris Johnson – the hysteria being about his personal life, not his actions as a politician.

    To be fair, though, many people seem only able to focus on the personal – and view politics as a soap opera with goodies and baddies.

    As with all soap operas, the standard plot device is for the goodie to reveal himself to be bad, and the audience to be shocked.

    By bad, of course, we mean threatening, by proxy, the (female) viewers and their children.

    Perhaps, this explains the reaction.

    As for Charlotte Edwards – I don’t know her, but she seems to be a straight shooter. She does not give off any bad media vibes

    Plenty of men have told us of their experiences with Boris Johnson, (of a different, but negative kind) ,usually years later, and she seems to be doing just the same.

    So, I don’t think your criticism of her is justified.

    Taking a bigger perspective, our media seems to be looking for convenient reasons to damn Boris Johnson,the man they have so heavily pushed. What better than his personal life, as that absolves themselves of any blame.

  • Dungroanin

    Good morning CM, i just posted on your previous article re Ukraine etc – I wonder if you have read Ed Pilkingtons Guardian piece yesterday? He needs knocking.

    It has seemed to me that the recent ‘old’ allegations against bobo are designed to provide cover – a variation of the dead cat on the table. The young Dr Strangelove – Cummings, is perhaps getting into a bunker mentality and could yet destroy that whole internet meme single handedly!

    The usage of ‘surrender’ clearly designed to revive the football terrace/ national front chant ‘no surrender to the IRA’. etc

    Language is important and does incite reaction. Such language is aimed not at the EU but at the timorous wet tories and the electorate – who are supposed to respond like zombies; and to the latest iteration of NF, the ‘Tommy’ brigade and The Thuggish, casual outfit wearing, sweary, cheating, stealer of the referendum is the string puller, psychopath that the Pathocracy has entrusted to deliver their ‘Singapore on Thames’ as Merkel clearly put it AND to destroy the prospect of a Corbynite Labour undoing their four decades of reactionary resurgence – by setting up conditions for a gnu approved yet again by the ”impressionable’ monarch.

  • Weegie 42

    I could have written that article! It gels with all I thought. Are we going to hold something so relatively trivial (between knowing adults) 20 years and regurgitated now for political reasons is absurd. It could even be a plant by No10 to distract from current issues.
    Language is a difficult one. It is all in context and use of inflammatory phrases at a time of social tension is to be avoided. Again however this plays into No10 hands as we constantly refer to “surrender” etc nd in doing so keep it in public mind. This remember is the drive; our PM is doing the will of the people and is being forced by this nasty Parliament to deny the people their democratic right to leave the UK. It is surrender and as they say in NI, NO Surrender.
    Re sexual congress. This is a product of sociology graduates and lawyers, both well represented in Parliament and the chattering classes. At this rate the human race will die out since physical contact will require the intervention of the courts to interpret the physical contract which was to be signed by both parties prior to any social contact. This will clearly outline the extent of any physicality and will need to be agreed at each stage. As my granny used to say, mince!!

  • John2o2o

    I think it is fair to say Craig that I probably disagree with you more often than not here. But I agree quite strongly with much of what you say here.

    I have always struggled with physical intimacy and have always been single, so the idea of squeezing a woman’s leg under a table as you suggest would probably not be something I would ever do, but I agree that it is not a physical assault if entirely consensual.

    Sometimes people do make accidental physical contact. We are physical beings, so it is bound to happen occasionally. Friends hug and sometimes kiss in non intimate ways to show affection.

    While I dislike Johnson and the current batch of Tories, I am nevertheless suspicious when someone makes an allegation – as has been made here – having been apparently silent about it for 20 or so years.

  • Mr V

    I’d disagree with one or two points above, but I found this argument pretty well balanced and reasonable. Yes, if there is worrying trend to me, it’s the tendency of some so called “feminists” and “liberals” to go straight to the far right positions. Coming from religious country full of zealous nutjobs I am generally fully sympathetic to minorities, women, and LGBT people seeking more rights they were denied in the past and addressing their grievances, and as such I cannot fathom why some fringe “feminists” want bondage by adopting views on human body and relations between adults that differ very little from one that would be mandated by a medieval priest.

    No one who calls him or herself feminist would defend religious garb designed to make someone mentally a half-slave being controlled and oppressed by it, yet I saw dozens of such calls. I sometimes wonder if these people are fifth column trolls trying to destroy support for bigger, worthwhile cause by postulating a really toxic talking point that overshadows everything behind it and making the support from the centre ebb away.

    What is funny (or sad, really) though, is how far right looks at behavior that is straight copy of their own positions and finds it so insufferable and disgusting that their to go bashing moniker of the left consists of various nicknames of groups that want to ban stuff. Just like right wingers always did, with their blasphemy laws and making taking off your pants one of the most serious crimes around. They get one *millionth* of the medicine they served to the others in the past ages and go rabidly crazy from rage. Go figure. Maybe you guys should take a long, deep look in the mirror?

  • Deb O'Nair

    “major headline news campaign headed by the Guardian and BBC, claiming that the petition was full of abusive and misogynistic comments, 38 Degrees deleted the petition.”

    This is a tactic which reminds me of the letter written by leading Jewish figures supporting Corbyn against the anti-Semitic smear campaign which the Guardian deleted because one of the names on the letter was a racist non-Jew. Rather than correct the list of names they used it as an excuse to dismiss every person that signed it, including Chomsky and Finklestein. Also, the same is true when the media constantly talk about abusive and anti-Semitic social media comments aimed at prominent Jews, when the provable fact is that the vast majority of this so called hate speech is merely people supporting Palestinian rights over Israeli oppression.

  • joel

    Permanent outrage about breaches of norms of civility has become a strategic mainstay of centrist politicians and journos — people who stand for nothing but a return to the austere status quo of 2015. These vapid liberals know they have little to offer beyond phoney victimhood, moral posturing and smearing. Look at all the media attention lavished on rightwing Labour figures like Phillips, Watson and Co in recent times. Never any mention at all of policies that would improve or lend security to the lives of the vast majority.

    If Labour as a whole are perceived to be responding to Johnson as Clinton responded to Trump, they will lose. They need to keep a laser-like focus on class politics, 95% v 5%, backed up with real policy.

    • wonky

      This reminds me of a brilliant tweet by a brilliant twitterer, whose name I forgot..

      “Centrists are the fu**ing car, that just won’t get out of the way of the ambulance.”

      This is true on so many levels..

  • Hmmm

    Disagree strongly with you stating that the issue is being brought up now for political purposes. YOU CANNOT PROVE THAT. So make clear that’s your assumption. She may have finally had the courage to say something now, now that she sees him strutting around everyday, a kind of mental torture, that she wants to lance the boil… I don’t know either, but other victims wait for years before saying something. Some never do.
    Otherwise another excellent post.

    • nevermind

      what is not an assumption and will in no way change due to any of this, is that the CPS is shying away from prosecuting rapists, the figures are plain and obvious.
      Maybe this will only change if male rape becomes popular as another ‘normal’ heinous, but ignored by the CPS, crime.

  • Jules Moules

    I can only agree with you wholeheartedly in this matter – and I’m no fanboy of Boris Johnson. Further, I think it was completely reasonable of him to shout ‘Humbug!’ across the debating chamber (whether he knew it was fair or not) to a rather angry Labour MP who claimed his ‘inflammatory language’ risked the ‘lives’ of MPs, and who stood up for her friend, the murdered MP Jo Cox, she of the Jo Cox Foundation.

    The claim of ‘inflammatory language’ is more often than not substantiated in the eye of the beholder. One man’s abuse is another man’s fair comment. But the angry plea for the Saintly lives of MPs belies a whole plethora of humbuggery. One of the three beneficiaries of the eponymous foundation was the White Helmets. The murder, death and destruction of Syrian lives does not even begin to compare to the elevated, fair-minded, lives of ‘civilised’ MPs. Jo Cox’s own historical voting record in these matters is less than congratulatory.

    So, humbug it is. Boris is still a nasty piece of work but there are many, many others who sit in that House who could be so described. The twisted faces of those throwing the first stones should look, in all fairness, to their own glass house.

  • Davy Smith

    A thoughtful and timely article, Craig.
    One that should indeed engage the logical processes of any reasonable and decent person.
    In order to prevent our entire culture being subverted into a polarised ‘black and white’ dichotomy, we urgently need to talk openly and honestly about these things.

    • mark golding

      I agree Davy it was indeed a thoughtful article. Talking openly and honestly is key to connecting with others especially communicating emotions of kindness, welcome and consideration when accompanied with physical contact such as a hug, an embrace or a squeeze.

      In isolation without conveying language and facial expression squeezing a leg is certainly at best ungracious, at worst too familiar and rude.

  • glenn_fr

    Along the same lines as Johnson’s accusation, it was premature and unwise of Al Franken to resign over a silly pose in a photograph.

    The Dems, eager to show their cowardice, sorry, proper attention to accountability, called on him to do so immediately too. Their Republican opponents – while gleeful at being shot of a skilled opponent – would never have accepted responsibility or offered an apology, let alone resign, over far more egregious behaviour.

  • Athanasius

    Glad to hear you’re in favour of the free exchange of ideas and opinions, Craig. I take it you will now be retiring your previous policy regarding Marine Le Pen should she stand in the next French presidential election?

    • craig Post author

      No not at all. People in my view should be perfectly at liberty to support Ms Le Pen on their own social media. But not on mine as it is mine and I do not choose to host such views. Just as I do not accept guest articles from Boris Johnson or Lennon-Yaxley whatever his name is.

  • Goose

    As you state the potential corruption/ nepotism angle is far more worthy of consideration:

    Quote : “One person who knew Arcuri was “stunned” to learn that company accounts show her loaning Hacker House £713,354 last year. Other firms set up by Arcuri are in the red or have been dissolved. Her main company, Innotech Network, has negative assets of more than £350,000 and she is reportedly being sued in the US over an unpaid $100,000 student loan.

    Questions have now emerged as to how the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport established that the company was viable.

    – Guardian

    Do you think the thigh squeeze story is possibly a planted ‘containable’ misdirection?

  • Ian Caldwell

    It seems to me that Johnson and his advisers plan is to have all the comments directed at his language and actions (whether or not there is any substance to them) rather than his real objective of a no-deal Brexit. The plan is working a treat.

  • Reipublicofscotland

    Looking from another aspect of Johnson’s “indiscretion” could it be a similar ploy as the one currently being foisted on Alex Salmond and possibly Julian Assange, mud sticks even though every cry of wolf isn’t a genuine one.

    I take nothing away from genuine cases of sexual assault, most of which do not surround prominent people in the spotlight. The likes of Johnson whose well known for having a string of girlfriends will have to explain himself at one point or another, however the electorate are not blind and will judge him accordingly.

    On another matter which I would say intertwines with the above is that society now appears to be extremely woke. In which almost anything said or done under any circumstances can offend someone, backed by the media and adversaries a minor indiscretion can become a career destroying event. It is in my opinion reaching the point of madness, where you darent say or do anything in fear of offending.

    Its not a world I want to live in where you can’t express yourself (hate speech aside) where honesty is replaced with populist jaron.

    Bodies, organisations and social media platforms are enforcing this woke attitude in order to stifle descenting voices. As for the explosiin in the rise of transgender issues, who’s making the money out of it.

  • Komodo

    I agree unequivocally with this, particularly on the subject of sanitising our language. Well said.

    • StephenR

      The shouting of “FIRE” in a crowded theatre doesn’t bother you then?

      Language used should always be tempered by the audience it is directed at. That isn’t sanitising, that is understanding the impact your rhetoric might have and steering more towards MLK and JFK than Chancellor Adolf Hitler and Reichsmarshall Goering.

      • Komodo

        The shouting of “FIRE” in a crowded theatre doesn’t bother you then?

        It would if I went to the theatre. (It’s getting harder to find productions which don’t ram sexuality and diversity propaganda down my neck these days, so I don’t.) Almost as much as a badly-aimed metaphor, in fact. My language is being debased daily in the interests of mollifying the thinskinned and the professionally outraged. I object to this.

        Freedom of expression, in my book, means freedom of expression. When it crosses the border between “My opinion is…” to “Invade Poland” we are outside the realm of acceptable discourse, obviously, but calling out someone’s PC grandstanding as “humbug” isn’t even on the approach road to that border.

    • OnlyHalfALooney

      Absolutely appalling character, Bill Clinton.

      From “Spook Air” to the “Lolita Express”: The Genesis and Evolution of the Jeffrey Epstein-Bill Clinton Relationship

      And think about this: If Monica Lewinsky hadn’t kept her unwashed blue dress to provide undeniable proof, she would have suffered the same fate as Clinton’s other victims.

      And, by the way, the Clintons and Trump were great pals back in the day. How times change.

  • Charles Maitland

    I agree with your thoughts in the article Craig, but I’m not planning any sexual assaults.
    Keep up the good work.

  • Garth Carthy

    We should be more concerned with the countless lies Johnson is accused of, his racist comments and his general arrogance and narcissism.
    We should also be more concerned that he had a noisy screaming row with his girl friend who told him to get off her.
    Do we really want our country to be led by such a nasty, bullying, entitled prat?

    Sadly, far too many of us DO want him to lead our country.

    • OnlyHalfALooney

      There seems to a sort of Berlusconi effect. Everybody in Italy knew about Berlusconi’s playboy lifestyle and “bunga bunga parties”, also that he had had dealings with the Cosa Nostra. But somehow all this just gave him an added air of machismo.

      I think the same is true of Trump and the Stormy Daniels affair. The strange thing is that even the Christian fundamentalists don’t seem bothered by his behaviour (perhaps only as long as Trump brings them closer to their goal of rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem “so Jesus can come back”).

  • Jo

    “A policeman who lost his job after he was wrongly accused of indecently assaulting a female colleague won £300,000 in an out-of-court settlement with the won a sexual discrimination case against the force last year, after he was suspended as a result of the allegation. His alleged victim was one of three women officers who lodged a complaint of bullying against him. The tribunal noted that the other two officers only made statements about the alleged bullying because they were encouraged to do so by a superior officer.

    He was acquitted of indecently assaulting the officer in November 1998. He was cleared of the bullying allegations at a disciplinary hearing in October. A further hearing in March ruled that he should have been reinstated as sergeant as soon as he was acquitted of indecent assault…..”

  • OnlyHalfALooney

    Craig, I agree about one-off accusations or incidents. It’s also unfair to drag out incidents that happened 30 or 40 years ago when someone was young, like with Brett Kavanaugh.

    But with Boris Johnson it’s a pattern of disgusting, deceitful and corrupt behaviour. It’s not as if he’s lived an exemplary life since then.

    I don’t feel the slightest sympathy for him.

    • StephenR

      What is all this sympathy for a SCOTUS judge who clearly had, and still has, a problem with alcohol affecting his judgement?

      • OnlyHalfALooney

        I don’t like him, but I didn’t like the dung-flinging either. I wondered if the Democrats hold a grudge because Kavanaugh was on Ken Starr’s team investigating Clinton.

        Are you suggesting Kavanaugh is drunk on the job? I haven’t heard any allegations that he is.

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