While Ken Livingstone’s detractors continue to accuse him of a core vote strategy – one that supposedly prioritises Muslims over Jews – they have remained silent on the past leanings of their own preferred choice for Mayor of London, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. Bozza has past form when it comes to turning a blind eye to anti-Semitism, and some years of it at that.
Bozza was editor of the Spectator magazine from 1999 to 2005, and, quite apart from the litany of gaffes during those years, retained the services of one Taki Theodoracopulos to write a regular column called High Life. Taki had by this time parted company acrimoniously with Private Eye, where he is now referred to as Taki Takealotofcokeupthenos (figure that one out yourselves).
Taki is still churning out his tedious drivel for the Spectator, but since 2009 has been under orders to tone down his attacks on the state of Israel and Jewish people generally. High Life tells of goings-on among what used to be called the Jet Set, a shrinking coterie of overmonied and under-occupied wasters for whom Conspicuous Consumption comes without the tedious chore of working for it first.
The Eye tired of this kind of thing – the column, written by Nigel Dempster before Taki, was called Grovel – after Ian Hislop’s arrival as successor to Richard Ingrams. Hislop could never understand why readers would consider the eccentric behaviour of minor European aristocracy and other undisciplined spenders of inherited wealth worth the space – and Taki attracted more than his share of writs.
One High Life item that caused particular outrage was published in 2001 – under Bozza’s editorship – where Taki made particularly ridiculous claims about the Israeli and US Governments regarding financier Marc Rich. The magazine’s then owner, Conrad Black, took forthright issue with his columnist, who had identified himself in the column, perhaps inadvertently, as an anti-Semite.
In addition to his anti-Israeli screeds, Taki has a habit of writing about, and praising slavishly, Hitler’s Wehrmacht. He clearly rues the ultimate defeat of this force and reveres its leaders (he blames the Fuehrer for all the downsides). Other totalitarian regimes are dutifully indulged: Francisco Franco is described by Taki as just “too decent a man”, while Augusto Pinochet was asserted to be “the saviour of Chile”.
Even Charles Moore, who preceded Bozza as editor of the Spectator, called Taki “a racist, a fascist, and a drunk”. And added to the support of Franco and Pinochet was that of Apartheid South Africa and the Smith regime in Rhodesia. For six years, Boris Johnson was more than happy – as admittedly have Matthew d’Ancona and Fraser Nelson since – to give this unsavoury specimen a platform.
What you will not be reading about this side of the Mayoral election in the Standard.