May 8, 2004

Boris Johnson wants Greeks to have replica of Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 5:19 pm in Elgin Marbles

After being made shadow Arts minister, Boris Johnson listed a six point programme of what he would do if the Conservative party got into power. One of his proposals was that the Greeks should be given an indistinguishable replica of the Elgin Marbles to stop any further arguments on the subject. Boris Johnson has spoken out a number of times in the past against campaigns to return the sculptures to Greece.

The Guardian

Tory spokesman Johnson spells out arts plan
Nicholas Watt, political correspondent
Friday May 7, 2004
The Guardian

With his tousled blond hair and jolly appearances on Have I Got New For You?, Boris Johnson was once written off as a political lightweight.

But the man who was told by Michael Portillo to “choose politics or comedy” strode forth yesterday as a Tory big beast of the future when he was appointed shadow arts minister.

Within minutes of accepting the post, which will pit the Old Etonian Spectator editor against the former comprehensive teacher Estelle Morris, Mr Johnson issued a six-point plan to save Britain’s arts.

“Day one and I have a six-point programme. I haven’t cleared this with anybody, but here is what I think.

“On coming to power I am going to institute a Windows spell check in English so that schoolchildren in this country no longer feel they have got it wrong when they spell words correctly.

“The Greeks are going to be given an indistinguishable replica of all the Parthenon marbles, done in the most beautiful marble dust to end this acrimonious dispute between our great nations.”

“I am going to open up the bandwidth, so there is much more freedom on the radio stations. I am going to reduce some of the stuff allocated to the Pentagon, so you can get the Rolling Stones in Oxfordshire. I am fed up with just listening to treacly old Magic.

“Fourth? I can’t remember what point four is. Ah, yes. We are going to convene a summit with Damien Hirst and the rest of the gang at which they are going to explain to the nation what it all means. Let us have a national ‘mission to explain’ by the Saatchi mob, which will be massively popular.

“We’re going to have a national poetry Olympiad to restore rhyme and scansion. There will be some sort of stoop of wine for the winning prize. I would be disqualified,” said the man who once spent an entire night as a journalist in Brussels quoting poetry.

“Point six is to move away from Labour’s grim, utilitarian approach to culture. I took particular exception to Charles Clarke’s attack on the classics. If we can’t study ancient languages, culture and art, we are deracinating ourselves.”

Despite his harsh words for the government, Mr Johnson had warm words for Ms Morris: “She is a charming lady.”

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