- Exclusive: Boris Johnson’s journalistic archive reveals deeply questionable views about women and gay people.
- Johnson this week defended the government’s new universities adviser Toby Young despite his comments about women, praising his “caustic wit.”
- However, Johnson advised his successor at the Spectator to “pat [a female colleague] on the bottom and send her on her way,” and once suggested women only went to university to find “men to marry.”
- He wrote an article mocking “tank topped bumboys” and compared gay marriage to bestiality.
- Labour says Johnson’s record makes him ‘unfit’ for the job.
LONDON – The foreign secretary Boris Johnson stepped in on Wednesday to defend his old friend and long-time colleague Toby Young, following allegations of sexism and homophobia against him.
The Labour party have called for Young, who has been appointed to the government’s new universities regulator, to be sacked after dozens of past tweets and articles were unearthed in which he made sexist and homophobic remarks.
Young repeatedly used his Twitter account to rate women’s breasts, and he has written columns that use insulting words to describe gay people.
However Johnson, who published some of Young’s controversial articles while the editor of the Spectator, defended Young, praising his “caustic wit,” and saying he was the “ideal man for [the] job.”
Ridiculous outcry over Toby Young. He will bring independence, rigour and caustic wit. Ideal man for job
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 3, 2018
Johnson’s praise for Young’s “caustic wit” is particularly interesting given his own record as a columnist and commentator.
Yesterday Business Insider went through his journalistic archives, much of which is now unavailable online, and found these examples of the Foreign Secretary’s own previous attitudes to women and gay people.
‘Hot Totty’ at the Labour party conference
Like Young, Johnson has long had a questionable attitude to women.
In 1996, while a journalist for the Telegraph, Johnson went to the Labour conference and wrote a piece reviewing the quality of “the hot totty” who were present.
“The unanimous opinion is that what has been called the ‘Tottymeter’ reading is higher than at any Labour Party conference in living memory,” he wrote.
He adds that: “Time and again the ‘Tottymeter’ has gone off as a young woman delegate mounts the rostrum.”
In an attempt to explain the trend of women shifting their allegiances to the Labour party, Johnson suggests that it is either due to the party’s “planned erosion of male liberty – such as ending the right to drink in public places,” or alternatively because of “Labour’s most bizarre promise, that women will be more promiscuous if Mr Blair comes to power.”
However, he concludes that the real reason women are turning to Labour is because of their natural “fickleness”.
“The real reason why Blackpool is buzzing with glamorous women is surely that they scent victory. It is not the great smell of Brut that makes John Prescott attractive. It is the whiff of power. With the fickleness of their sex, they are following the polls.”
‘Emotional’ women are often ‘blubbing blondes’ or ‘collapsing with emotion’
Johnson also brought his admiration for “hot totty” into the office, pinning a Pirelli calendar to his desk, which featured nude photography, despite complaints from female colleagues.
Boasting of his decision, Johnson told Telegraph readers that the calendar “caused something of a stir.”
“They made women feel embarrassed, I was told,” he wrote.
“‘I’d hate to stand next to some guy and try to get my point across while May was on display,” said one woman.
‘Just pat her on the bottom and send her on her way’
In a farewell piece in the Spectator marking his exit as editor, Johnson offers the following advice to his successor.
“Once the fire is going well, you may find your eyes drifting to the lovely striped chesterfield across the room. Is it the right size, you wonder, for a snooze. . . ?” He writes.
“You come round in a panic, to find a lustrous pair of black eyes staring down at you. Relax. It’s only Kimberly [Quinn, who was then the Spectator’s publisher] with some helpful suggestions for boosting circulation.”
He advised his successor to “Just pat her on the bottom and send her on her way.”
This attitude towards women was carried over into his writing. As Sonia Purnell, a former colleague of Johnson, notes in her biography of him:
“In his writing women were portrayed as rather feeble ‘blubbing blondes’ or ‘collapsing with emotion …'”
In an article complaining about the reaction to Diana’s death, Johnson lamented that “We live in an age where feminism is a fact, where giving vent to emotion in public wins votes.”
“The Princess is a symbol for every woman who ever felt wronged by a man.”
He once said, ‘Voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts’
Johnson’s use of sexual imagery about women was most prominently displayed in his GQ motoring column, in which he reviewed his favourite ‘babe magnet’ cars. As Purnell notes in her biography:
“The reviews relied on words such as ‘filly’, ‘chicks’ and ‘flapping kimonos’ and were garnished with plenty of ‘gearstick’ gags … There is talk of blonde drivers ‘waggling their rumps,’ his own superior horsepower ‘taking them from behind,’ aided by tantalising thoughts of the imaginary ‘ample bosoms’ of the female Sat Nav voice.”
“On driving a Ferrari F340, he wrote: ‘it was as though the whole county of Hampshire was lying back and opening her well-bred legs to be ravished by the Italian stallion.”
Boris’s use of “ample bosoms” to promote his wares carried over into his political career.
In 2005, while campaigning to become the Conservative MP for Henley in the general election, he told voters that “voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts,” apparently forgetting the other 50% of the electorate he needed to appeal to.
And in 2012, while hosting the London Olympics as mayor, Johnson told his readers of the “magnificent” experience of watching “semi-naked women playing beach volleyball … glistening like wet otters.”
Female Malaysian students only want ‘men to marry’
In 2013, Johnson launched the World Islamic Economic Forum at London’s City Hall. The then mayor appeared alongside the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was asked about the role of women in Islamic societies.
Razak told journalists:
“Before coming here my officials have told me that the latest university intake in Malaysia, a Muslim country, 68% will be women entering our universities.”
Boris interrupted with the suggestion that: “They have got to find men to marry.”
You can listen to the recording here:
‘In the Ministry of Sound, the tank-topped bumboys blub into their Pils.’
In recent years Johnson has become an advocate of gay rights and led the Pride parade as London mayor. However, these were not attitudes that he displayed while a journalist. Writing in the Spectator in 2000, Johnson attacked what he called “Labour’s appalling agenda, encouraging the teaching of homosexuality in schools, and all the rest of it.”
In his 2001 book “Friends, Voters, Countrymen,” Johnson compared gay marriage to bestiality, writing that “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.”
There was more casual homophobia as well. In a 1998 Telegraph column about Peter Mandelson’s resignation from the Labour government, Johnson said the announcement would lead to the blubbing of “tank-topped bumboys” in “the Ministry of Sound” nightclub, and “the soft-lit Soho drinking clubs frequented by Mandy and his pals.”
He added that Mandelson’s departure would cause the “lipstick” to come away from Blair’s government.
‘Unfit to be the UK’s most senior diplomat’
Labour’s shadow Secretary of state for women and equalities, Dawn Butler, told Business Insider that Johnson’s record made him “unfit” for the job.
“Boris Johnson’s track record and his defence of Toby Young, whose misogynistic and homophobic views he published as editor of the Spectator magazine, surely make him unfit to be the UK’s most senior diplomat.”
A spokesperson for the Foreign Secretary was contacted for comment but did not respond by the time of publication.