If you have ever been a victim of institutionalized racism, you develop a spidey sense that never fades - and you forgot to mention that sometimes that spidey sense gets things wrong and sometimes other people jump on the bandwagon for political purposes.
Here's his article in full, so everyone can read it:
IF BLAIR'S SO GOOD AT RUNNING THE CONGO, LET HIM STAY THERE
By Boris Johnson, 10 Jan 2002.
HE'S back. The doors of the prime ministerial plane have been opened, and he has at last been seen at the top of the gangway. Our leader is returned to his benighted children; the pater patriae is home, and how lost his ministers have seemed without him.
For ages, it seems, Supertone has been orbiting in his taxpayer-funded jet, descending to bring his particular brand of humbug to the trouble spots of the world. He did the namaste in Bangalore, and lo, the warring faiths of the Indian subcontinent immediately rescheduled World War Three. For a full 120 minutes, he and Cherie shone the light of their countenances upon the people of Afghanistan, and, who knows, perhaps the place is now rife with feminism, habeas corpus and multi-party democracy.
What a relief it must be for Blair to get out of England. It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies; and one can imagine that Blair, twice victor abroad but enmired at home, is similarly seduced by foreign politeness.
They say he is shortly off to the Congo. No doubt the AK47s will fall silent, and the pangas will stop their hacking of human flesh, and the tribal warriors will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief touch down in his big white British taxpayer-funded bird. Like Zeus, back there in the Iliad, he has turned his shining eyes away, far over the lands of the Hippemolgoi, the drinkers of mares' milk. He has forgotten domestic affairs, and here, as it happens, in this modest little country that elected him, hell has broken loose.
Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, has been at war with Peter Hain about the timing of the plan to abolish the pound. Half the adolescent population seems to be trying to steal the mobile phones of the other half. Every female columnist in Fleet Street is now in a state of panic about the mumps, measles and rubella jab, waving their babies in the air and screaming for guidance from the First Father. Across Britain, the commuters groan and snarl as the Dave Sparts and Ned Ludds of the RMT bring the trains to a halt.
And now, to cap it all, one of Blair's very own ministers, the increasingly trusted and important Peter Hain, has broken off from his war with Straw to launch an attack on Stephen Byers. Today the Prime Minister will open his copy of The Spectator (which he once told me, through gritted teeth, that he rather enjoyed), to find that Hain has made a sensational admission. He tells Anne McElvoy that "we have the worst railways in Europe". That's it, Tony: out of the mouth of one of your own ministers.
After four and a half years of Labour government, British railways are now worse than those of Portugal, Greece and Romania. Slovak drivers actually turn up for work; Bulgarian leaves do not block the track; and the 8.02 from Zagreb to Split is infinitely more to be trusted than anything running from Waterloo to Basingstoke.
What Hain has said is not only unpatriotic. It is true. It is therefore a gaffe. How can a senior minister make such a confession, and not be punished? Will Hain survive until the weekend? Of course he will, because the Government, in its arrogance, knows that it can continue to blame the Tories. It was the damnosa hereditas, they will say. It was the botched privatisation. It is only now, says Blair, that the terrible effects are being felt on the nation's arteries, just as a heart patient spectacularly collapses after 18 blissful years of eating pork pies. Does anyone really believe this account?
For all its faults, privatisation led to a 25 per cent increase in railway use; it allowed huge quantities of cash to be raised on the markets - £2 billion in 2000 alone; and, in spite of the crashes at Paddington and Hatfield, you were far safer travelling on the privatised railways than you were on British Rail.
What has caused the railways' recent cardiac infarct has been four years of Prescottian inertia, coupled with a hysterical reaction to the Hatfield crash, which drove Railtrack into a bankruptcy that secretly or openly delighted every section of the Labour Party. The railways have been managed fantastically badly by this Government; and it is good of Hain to accept the gravity of the problem.
Since he is in this candid mood, he might as well go on to say that we have one of the worst health services in Europe. To pluck a statistic at random: if you are a British woman with leukaemia, you have 21 per cent less chance of living another five years than a German woman with leukaemia. No one is suggesting that the problems of the NHS began in 1997; it is just that Labour does not seem to have any intention of solving them.
One of the reasons the Germans are healthier than us is that they are able to spend more on health, because roughly half their hospitals are independently funded. Is that a solution Blair is prepared to discuss? Or is Labour prepared to learn from France? There they stop the wasting of GPs' time by imposing a 25 per cent upfront charge - which is refundable later - on everyone who calls to see the doctor.
And if Hain were really super-truthful, he would admit that we have a philistine education system, in which the teaching of foreign languages is at an all-time low. My new pro-European policy for the Tories is to crusade for the teaching of French and German in state schools, so that we can all go over there and see what they do for ourselves. And if Blair continues to swank around the stratosphere, and ignore the problems at home, he might as well find another country to run. If they will elect him.