Boris Watch

London needs Boris Watch. It needs their ‘attempt to enhance the accountability of the new London mayoralty’.
Not just because he’s stopping public transport projects and scrapping the proposed congestion charge for West London, made the anti-racism Rise festival erm, not anti-racist anymore, but also because Boris Johnson and arts advisor Munira Mirza are so good at spin they’d have you convinced night was day if you weren’t careful.
Depress yourself reading between the lines at Boris Johnson shakes up funding for capital’s cultural events:
“Ritterband said if groups were unable to strike sponsorship deals for their events, it would suggest the event was not “commercially viable”.”
Since when was that a yardstick for whether a community event was worth putting on? Do artistic merit and community value not count anymore?
And I love their cheap south/north, inner/outer suburbs attempt at ‘divide and conquer’ London.
And it gets even more head-spinning in ‘Give young people high culture not hip-hop – Johnson‘:

Arts chiefs should stop patronising young people by targeting them with hip-hop and movies, and instead offer them access to high culture, Boris Johnson, the London mayor, will say today.

In a report outlining his strategy, his chief of arts and culture strategy, Munira Mirza, argues that too much emphasis has been placed on making events “user-friendly”.
She said: “Too often, it is presumed that young people will only like art that they can immediately relate to.
“Working-class students may be steered towards popular culture like hip-hop, new media and film on the basis that they will find older art forms such as opera or ballet irrelevant.” Mirza said this was “extremely patronising”.
She added: “There’s been a kind of inverse snobbery about culture. I get the feeling some people would look at Shakespeare and say, that’s a bit too intimidating for working-class people.

But isn’t there snobbery in assuming that hip-hop and film can’t have the same cultural worth as opera or ballet? And of course the assumption that ‘young people’ only like ‘popular culture’ because they haven’t been provided access to the ballet by well-meaning arts administrators rather than because some hip-hop or new media is actually good – well, that isn’t patronising, is it?
Of course it’s all masked in language for which they can’t be called to account – ‘get the feeling that some people would’ covers a lot of sins.
Btw, if you google ‘boris watch‘ a sycophantic load of drivel is currently the first hit, so if you also have a blog, why not link to BorisWatch and help people get to the right site?

UK clothes shops opposed to child labour

I never thought I’d agree with India Knight:

How do we think it became possible for a new dress to cost £6? If the finished garment, including the store’s mark-up, costs £6, what do we think the person who made it was paid? What kind of conditions do we imagine they were working under? And how old do we think they were? Now, I like clothes and I like a bargain. But really, who could wear these clothes and feel good about it? (Answer: millions of people. I find this insanely depressing. And they still look awful.)
The following stores have all explicitly stated their opposition to child labour: Marks & Spencer, American Apparel, H&M, Arcadia Group (includes Topshop, Burton, Miss Selfridge, Wallis, Dorothy Perkins), Gap, and People Tree.

In Credit crunch chic: how to save pots of money.