Boris Johnson has taken the bizarre move of referring to quotations from his published work as 'smears.' The successful and popular columnist accused the Mayor of 'demeaning his office' by quoting from his previously published comments. The Conservatives have also cited it as evidence of 'dirty tactics' from the Livingstone campaign.
The complaint came in the LBC radio debate after Ken Livingstone referred to a Spectator article written shortly after the 7/7 bombings. In this article Boris stated that Islamophobia was a 'justifiable reaction' to the Koran and that 'Islam was the problem.' He also described Islam as the 'most viciously sectarian of all religions' and asked 'when is someone going to get 18th century on Islam's medieval ass?'
Now there are many people who would agree with Boris' sentiments. The BNP for one, who would be quite happy to get 'medieval' on Islam's ass right now. In fact the possibility of any future medieval behaviour was probably a factor in their endorsement of Boris for Mayor. Yet there are others who say that Boris has changed his mind. Again, this may be true. He now says that Islam is a religion of peace, and he has made frequent references to having a Muslim grandfather (well that's all right then.)
Yet rather than claim a conversion, Boris has bizarrely accused Livingstone of 'traducing' him. He makes the extraordinary claim that for Ken to repeat his own published words is a 'deeply offensive' act, because it does not relate to 'what is in my heart.'
Now quite what is in Boris' heart I wouldn't like to say, but it does seem to be a uniquely irrational argument. In fact to claim that his own words and writings bear no relation to his beliefs is almost as illogical as this infamous comment from Tony Blair in 2004. In a party conference speech Tony Blair said to the slightly scared crowd of Labour supporters that: "I only know what I believe."
In this one reckless sentence Blair defied the entire history of empirical thought and brought British politics to a new low. By denying a link between his words and beliefs Boris is performing a similar sleight of hand. All previous beliefs and views are to be slipped down the memory hole and a fresh new Boris will emerge.
In this respect it is Boris Johnson who is now the true 'heir to Blair.'