Polly Hudson: Boris Johnson’s ‘wife-beating’ dad must be cancelled
You may not have heard of Cancel Culture, a mainly online phenomenon where someone puts one foot wrong and instantly seals their fate – which is to never work in this town again.
As with everything on the internet, it started sensibly, and has since been exploited to a ridiculous degree.
Nowadays one controversial move – or tweet – and a person or company is “cancelled”.
There’s no room for nuance, or differing opinions, just snap judgements and aggressive internet pile-ons. That doesn’t mean that at its heart, Cancel Culture isn’t valid.
Some actions truly are unarguably unforgivable.
This week a new biography of Boris Johnson revealed his father Stanley broke his ex-wife Charlotte’s nose.
Stanley and Charlotte’s marriage is described in the book as “violent and unhappy.” She needed to go to hospital after the incident, and is quoted as saying: “He broke my nose. He made me feel like I deserved it.”
“Friends” of Stanley say he “deeply regrets” the incident.
My parents grew up in homes with regular domestic violence. Mum went on to set up a women’s refuge, where she was volunteer working chair for 38 years.
I was a junior member of Women’s Aid. When terrified women fled to this shelter, I took their children into another room to play. At times we later helped them move in to new, safe homes.
Mostly they went back though, because their abuser said he was sorry, and they’d been made to feel like the attack was their fault, something they’d driven him to.
I was too young to properly understand what those women had been through, but the expressions on their faces conveyed their stories without words.
The memory of them stays with me to this day.
No further discussion needed. Stanley Johnson is cancelled.
His cheeky eccentric schtick has been wearing ever thinner recently anyway.
After his 2017 stint on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, he’s been a regular on the small screen, wheeled out whenever TV producers need someone posh and allegedly hilarious.
And let’s not forget the mileage he’s rinsed from being “best friends” with jungle campmate Georgia Toffolo. She’s 25! He’s 80!
Oh my aching sides. She’s called him her “guru” in the past, a position one would hope she is now seriously reconsidering.
Stanley’s been in the media more than ever in the last year.
When told in an appearance on the Victoria Derbyshire show that a viewer had called Boris ‘Pinocchio’, he sneered, “Pinocchio? That requires a degree of literacy which I think the Great British public doesn’t necessarily have.”
In July, Stanley Pulled A Cummings – breaking the Government’s “all but essential international travel” rule with a jaunt to his Greek holiday home.
He was caught, not by a stealth undercover sting, but because he documented his journey on Instagram.
Recently he’s been photographed twice breaking another of the regulations set by his own son, not wearing a mask properly in a shop, and then on the London Underground.
The second time he apologised, saying: “I’m still learning every day.”
Wear. A. Mask. Is apparently, for Stanley, a complicated concept that requires much studying before it can be mastered.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary says that “when something is cancelled, it goes away.”
Like I said, some actions truly are unarguably unforgivable. Go away, Stanley Johnson. And don’t come back.
I don’t expect to see you on television ever again.
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