Never mind the badger – save The Guardian, cries Mayor Boris

Oct 29, 2012
Nigel Horne

'Conservatives need to have the enemy in plain view - reading the actual paper, not skulking online'

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NEVER mind the badger – save The Guardian from extinction! The rallying cry comes from London Mayor Boris Johnson, reacting to last week's rumour that Britain's leading paper of the Left is considering dropping its print edition and going online only to save money.

As Johnson reports in his Daily Telegraph column today, the story has been poo-pooed by the Guardian "politburo" – a denial which "adds nothing but credence to the plot".

So why should Johnson care about the fortunes of a paper which, he admits, has never supported anything he's ever said or done?

"When I was standing against Ken Livingstone, they did a special supplement in which various members of the Lefty great and the good were invited to say what a prat/plonker/berk/buffoon I was," writes Boris. "Many of them vowed to leave London if I were elected (a promise, sadly, they have not kept)."

In spite of this "strange hostility" and despite the many subsequent Guardian articles damning Boris's politics – and its reprinting of Max Hastings's Daily Mail article in which he said he would not trust the ruthless Mayor with his wife or his wallet – Johnson believes it would be a national tragedy if we lost the print version of the Guardian.

"Guilt-ridden Lefties need it to swat the mosquitoes in Tuscany, or to light the wood-burning stoves in their second homes, or to line the tuck boxes of their little ones as they guiltily pack them off – like dear Polly Toynbee – to their fee-paying schools."

Cliches aside, Boris says it would be a calamity for Conservatives like him if "we no longer knew what the enemy was thinking... We need a paper that is genuinely, viscerally hostile to anything that looks remotely like a spirit of enterprise and competition...

"We need a paper that believes the answer to all problems is more tax and more regulation. We need to have the enemy in plain view, on the table, in the shops – not skulking online. We need to know what not to think."

Is Boris perhaps missing that long summer of speechifying afforded him by the London Games? He's certainly in full cry when he concludes: "I appeal now to all Conservatives and indeed anyone interested in preserving our national heritage. Even if we only have a few hundred copies left, let us keep the Guardian's print edition – displayed in town halls, perhaps, like the People's Daily. Never mind the badger. Save the Guardian from extinction!"

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Yeah, but shoot the badgers. They ate all my chickens, bar one, which sounded in distress for the rest of its life.