Marc Wadsworth - The-Latest - EXCLUSIVE
I was put in touch with "his master's voice" James McGrath, Johnson's Tory leadership-imposed political minder, who invited me for a coffee at City Hall. McGrath's insensitive and frankly arrogant comment that Black people should "go home" if they didn't like his "right-wing" boss running the multiracial capital was breathtaking.
The shocking remark was made in response to a column in the Voice newspaper I showed him written by veteran Black rights activist and controversialist Darcus Howe.
Now McGrath has been sacked by Johnson. The Times phoned me to tell of his forced "resignation". It both shocked and saddened me that the seasoned political operator's hubris cost him his job.
I did not rush into print with a story straight after the extraordinary meeting with McGrath on May 20. Instead, of a megaphone monologue I attempted a private dialogue. But, for a month, despite reminders from me, I waited in vain for McGrath's promised response. I found his apparent contempt for the serious issues raised - both at the meeting and in a document I sent him afterwards at his request - very disrespectful.
Press Association told me that The-Latest.Com had made history as the first UK citizen journalism site to force the resignation of a public official. According to PA, bloggers in the US have been much more successful at this. PA said that our scoop was a fine example of an alternative website breaking news that the mainstream missed.
A senior news executive friend at the Mail on Sunday, who was annoyed that his editor declined to use the story when it was first posted on The-Latest, congratulated me on the scoop. He said I should pursue the point it seemed the race equality issue was being jettisoned by a City Hall Conservative administration that considered 'anti-racism' as 'left-wing'. Hence, Mayor Johnson's apparent decision to drop the theme from the annual Rise music festival next month.
Unreported, was the McGrath comment to me that City Hall's Tory rulers had "no race policy", as they are obliged by law so to have. They wax lyrical about fighting crime and improving public transport but have a blind spot when it comes to the promotion of good relations between Black and white people in the most racially diverse city in the world.
Eminent lawyer Patricia Williams, an American professor who made waves in the middle-class British circles in which Johnson moves with her insightful BBC Reith Lectures, said that "specific legal remedies such as affirmative action, and the counter to those, which has been appeals to colour - blindness - not just colour-blindness as a social ideal but as a kind of literal mandate that seems to be requiring that you eliminate all reference to race even when you're trying to remediate the effects of racism."
She added: "That's the paradox, it seems to me - that you can't talk about what it is that you're trying to remediate. Therefore you can't talk about it sensibly. It's like the image of the three monkeys, Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil. To me, that image represents the wrong kind of colour-blindness, because that's just plain blindness, rather than unself-consciousness about race or about the mark of colour."
The-Latest 's scoop has been widely picked up by the new media and blogs. It is running on BBC News, Guardian Unlimited, Daily Telegraph, Independent, Daily Mirror, Times, Sun, Metro, Sky and many other websites. And The-Latest post bag has experienced a flood of missives, some of it nasty hate mail directed at me. As influential Guardian blogger Dave Hill said, the Tories and their allies have spent more energy attacking the journalist who broke the story rather than McGrath's slurs against Black people.
Just as alarmingly, the controversy has prompted the fascist British National Party to invite Boris Johnson into its ranks. The dramatic firing over with, Mayor Johnson must now match his declared commitment to multiculturalism with action, starting with the adoption of a "one London" race equality policy and the hiring of credible senior officials to implement it.