Every excuse Boris Johnson gave for refusing to taking the knee for Black Lives Matter

Greg Evans
Friday 03 July 2020 08:15
news

During a Friday morning appearance on LBC Radio, Boris Johnson was quizzed on the government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his feelings on the Black Lives Matter movement and 'taking the knee'.

With the movement still continuing and gathering more and more support every day the government is being pressured to show more support for Black communities and have more Black faces within the cabinet.

The first call that the prime minister took on Nick Ferrari's show was from a man named Sam in Bristol who asked the prime minister why there were no Black ministers currently within the cabinet.

The prime minister said in response:

I accept we can do more and we will do more. There are plenty of black ministers in government.

But at the top all I can say is we have substantial BAME representation at the top of government...

I'm going to put my hands up and say we need to make progress.

Currently, the only BAME representation in Johnson's current cabinet comes from MPs of Asian decent, namely, Rishi Sunak, Priti Patel and Alok Sharma.

Ferrari then took an interest in whether Johnson would be prepared to 'take the knee' and show solidarity for with the Black Lives Matter movement.

In recent weeks Labour leader Keir Starmer has taken the knee but the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said that he wouldn't and seemed to think the gesture came from Game of Thrones.

Ferrari made it clear to Johnson that this was a simple yes or no answer. In response, Johnson said that people should be bullied into doing something that they don't want to.

I don’t believe in gestures, I believe in substances... I don’t want people to be bullied into doing things that make a practical difference.

Speaking of gestures...

Johnson continued by championing his achievement in government for Black people and also mentioned his time as the Mayor of London, which occurred during one of the worst riots the city has ever seen.

If you look at what this government has done over the past few years, if you look at what I've done when I was running this city, I massively increased, for instance Black and minority ethnic representation in the Metropolitan Police.

We had an active program to accelerate promotion for great Black police officers and I want to see that happen across the country. What we've seen in the past ten years is more young Black kids doing the toughest, crunchiest subjects in school. We've seen more young Black kids going to some of the best universities in this country. That's what I want to see.

Johnson then almost admitted that he would rather hear of stories of success than injustices, but did accept that injustice does happen so that's something.

I'd rather see a story of championing success and talking about the opportunities that are open for young Black people. Of course there are injustices that we to rectify. There is prejudice out there. Of course there is prejudice out there and we need to fight it.

Ferrari then injected upon Johnson's rather long-winded answer to ask if he was a 'Raab or a Starmer' and whether he would take the knee.

Johnson got in another huff when asked this relatively simple question and gave an example of the police officers who were asked to take a knee during the Black Lives Matter protests in London a few weeks ago.

I'll tell you what, my answer is I don't want people to be bullied into doing things that they don't necessarily want to do.

I'll give you the reason why. If you think what happened with those police officers standing at the Cenotaph, where they were being really insulted in quite aggressive terms by some members of the crowd to take the knee. Some of them did and it was very difficult then for the others who didn't and that's my position.

I think it is very, very important that do things that make life difficult or embarrassing for people.

Ferrari then asked him if agreed with senior officers who said that their colleagues should not take the knee to which the prime minister said he did.

Taking the knee has become a common sight in the past few months with politicians and notable figures alike all adopting the stance in recent weeks. Footballers at the start of every game have taken the knee at the start of a match since the action restarted. It was originally started in the United States by NFL star Colin Kaepernick who used it during the playing of the American national anthem to protest police brutality.

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