Boris Johnson and the Verminous Race

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Did Boris Johnson really call Scotland a verminous race?.

Whilst the editor of the Spectator, in 2004, he allowed the publication of a poem with words calling the Scottish people a “verminous race” and suggesting “comprehensive extermination”.


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It was a “satirical” poem by James Michie, titled “Friendly Fire”.

He also explained: “I think the article was too trenchantly expressed but we were trying to make a point about sentimentality. It’s a kick in the pants for me.”

To see the entire thing in context might have been best.

We all know how context can change things.

  • Satirical comedy is the form of satire in which the writer uses comic elements to expose the realities of the society or any problem. … The writer uses irony, humor and exaggeration to show the follies and misdoings of the leaders. A writer can point out towards an individual, a society or even the whole world.

Boris Johnson edited ‘The Spectator’ from 1999 to 2005. His job was effectively to sell news by creating stories that people read. He got people reading The Spectator!!


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This was the original poem:

The Scotch – what a verminous race!
Canny, pushy, chippy, they’re all over the place, Battening off us with false bonhomie, Polluting our stock, undermining our economy.
Down with sandy hair and knobbly knees!
Suppress the tartan dwarves and the Wee Frees!
Ban the kilt, the skean-dhu and the sporran
As provocatively, offensively foreign!
It’s time Hadrian’s Wall was refortified
To pen them in a ghetto on the other side.
I would go further. The nation
Deserves not merely isolation
But comprehensive extermination.
We must not flinch from a solution.


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