UK General Election 2019

Do not let ancient history justify racism.

Today the fate of the nation will be decided through democratic processes. It is a great responsibility and one we must take with great respect. In previous elections, I have made the comparison between Ancient History and contemporary politics. In this election it would be more than an irrelevance.

Boris Johnson is a dangerous man. He is a racist. Behind his bumbling persona is a ruthless, if incompetent, authoritarian. His career has been built on lies. His reign as London Mayor was largely a failure. Commentators keep mentioning his failed Garden Bridge project, which cost millions. They should perhaps remember his purchase of three faulty old police water cannons which he was never allowed to use as they were deemed illegal in mainland UK and banned by one of the most ruthless of Home Secretaries. (That they can be used in Northern Ireland, says something about our political establishment.) He was told this before he bought them, but Johnson had contempt for the Rights and Wellbeing of the people he ruled over. Water cannons were most memorably used against peaceful marchers in Birmingham, Alabama during the Civil Rights movement in America. The photos of these attacks still shock.

His greatest legacy will be the confusion of Brexit. A campaign he supported not as a principled stand or because he thought it would be best for the country but for his own power. His campaign was unscrupulous. The promise of more money to the NHS was illusory and an insult to the many people in this country who have seen the services offered slowly decrease. Since Brexit more and more people have been told to go through private providers for routine procedures. Following Brexit, reports of Hate Crime increased across Britain. Primary Schools were targeted with anti-Polish leaflets. Primary schools. His most notorious racist comments directed at Muslim women, was the culmination of carefully calculated racism enabled by some elements of the British elite. This is his legacy.

And all this is enabled by Classicism. He is allowed to make racist comments because commentators argue it is his bumbling and old fashioned character, or that because he speaks Ancient Greek he is too intelligent to be racist. He knows what he is doing. He is a racist.

The study of Ancient History, Culture, Society and Thought is a challenging one. It asks us to examine a society that is completely different to our own. It makes us realise the extent to which so much of what we think of as universal are in fact responses to particular historical, social forces. Classicism, the belief in an unbroken link of universal values, is a house built on sand. It privileges certain elements of society and justifies a continuation or return to earlier forms of government. Johnson wrote a book called Dream of Rome (cover: His massive gurning face, three times the size of the Coliseum in the background). Rome was built on violence, colonialism, and slavery and with it institutionalised sexual exploitation. The person who claims to have studied this society in detail and still dreams of it, is a disturbing person.

This election has rightfully raised the issue of anti-semitism in the Labour Party. There are still profound questions to be asked about this and we must challenge it wherever we see it. There needs to be action on this important issue.

On Thursday the nation will decide not between Brexit or No Brexit, but a much more fundamental decision. The choice is between a country ruled by an authoritarian racist or a country governed by a parliamentary party who respect the rule of law and have shown themselves true servants of the British People. To this choice there can only be one solution:

Vote Labour.