Nearly six years ago, Boris Johnson gave the Margaret Thatcher lecture at the Centre for Policy Studies.
Thatcher, he said, put forward ‘a new idea – or revived an old one: that Britain was or could be an enterprising and free-booting sort of culture, with the salt breeze ruffling our hair, a buccaneering environment where there was no shame – quite the reverse – in getting rich’.
Johnson also made a prediction:
‘By 2050 Britain will be the second biggest country in the EU…’
Not if he has anything to do with it.
He also made some prophecies. In 2050, we would still have a crown. I presume he means the Crown and not commemorative currency. (Please, don’t give him ideas)
We would still have a union. As the SNP have just said they want another independence referendum, this could be in doubt.
And we would have dealt ‘eupeptically’ with ‘mass immigration so that our cities are not just proudly British but also boast a vast mongrel energy’.
The word ‘eupeptically’ (I had to look it up) means ‘cheerfully, happily’. But there was nothing cheerful or happy about fears of mass immigration stirred up by Johnson’s Vote Leave. Too late now to say the strategy was wrong.
Johnson’s speech wasn’t just crystal-ball gazing or an appeal to unleash Thatcher’s ‘animal spirits’. He said society was unequal: 16% had an IQ below 85% while just 2% had an IQ over 130. Brains weren’t doled out equally.
Society, Johnson said, was like a cereal packet. The harder you shook it, the easier it would be for some to get to the top. Those who succeeded would become wealthy and pay more taxes for public services (obviously not heard about tax avoidance schemes). Any rich person giving to charity could benefit, he said, from the ‘snob value and prestige’ attached to philanthropy.
This inspired the Parable of the Cornflake Box. I’ve updated it for today:
And behold, a certain person stood up and tested the Prime Minister saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
And the Prime Minister answered and said, " Make as much dosh as you can and give some of what you make to the poor for the 16% will always be with us. And they lack real talent. They are as crushed as the cornflakes that fall to the bottom of the packet. For, verily I say unto you, the box will be truly shaken so the toughest will rise to the top and settle upon the rest. And when thou givest, make sure you make a great noise so that you will benefit thereof. For those who give so publicly will be rewarded with a gong."
And the certain person left, satisfied, because he was not of the 16%.
And the Prime Minister also left having spoken with the tongues of angels about unity. And to prove his intent he set upon his right hand a man who was truly divisive. So endeth the first lesson.
CORRECTION 26 July, 15.00: I had wrriten '...just 2% had an IQ over 30'. This should have been 130. Thanks to agov for pointing out the error which is now corrected.