Technology’s empowering, says Boris

Published: Tuesday 10th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Boris Johnson has rounded on the middle classes for trying to protect their jobs from being opened up to more people by technological advances.

Railing against the “chorus of woe” emitted by professionals such as publishers and journalists as the internet poses a threat to traditional ways of working, the London mayor insisted concerns about the changes could be “more or less entirely dismissed”.

New technology was a liberator and gave power to “those who were voiceless”, he argued during a speech that should have been made at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) but had to be relocated to the British consulate in Cambridge because of “unprecedented” snowstorms.

The city has been brought to a virtual standstill as it struggles to cope with snow several feet deep and the mayor’s schedule for his visit – part of a trade mission across the United States east coast – has been significantly curtailed.

Despite the treacherous conditions, however, the last-minute venue for Mr Johnson’s keynote address was standing room only as students braved the freezing temperatures to attend.

Mr Johnson said: “T he dawn of the tech age has been greeted with a traditional chorus of woe.

” Woe to the bourgeois professions who have seen the barriers to entry eliminate and the value of their labour cut in half by the internet, woe to the publishers, threatened by ebooks, woe to the august journalists displaced by impudent bloggers, counter-jumpers who have never learned the craft, never mastered shorthand or stuck their foot in anyone’s door in the approved manner, to intrude on private grief.

” Pity the taxi drivers’ heads stuffed with short cuts memorised over years in a phenomenal feat of pelmanism who now find that their omniscience is challenged by anyone who can work a satnav.

” Look at what is happening to the high street shops sad and shuttered, their custom ruthlessly plundered by internet giants, not all of whom pay anything like enough tax on their earnings.”

He added: ” I understand these emotions. I am a conservative but I think the charges against the tech revolution can be more or less entirely dismissed.

“Tech is a liberator, t ech is an enabler, tech gives power and say to those who were voiceless and powerless, it gives voters the right to vent their feeling, not once every five years but every day as they tweet their abuse – or even their encouragement – of politicians.”

Boston officials advised only essential employees to travel to work, schools were closed and a parking ban was imposed on the city.

Previous records for the amount of snowfall over a 30-day period in were broken after more than 61 inches fell over the last month.

Mr Johnson met his counterpart Marty Walsh for brief talks at City Hall and earlier discussed the Boston 2024 Olympic bid with the team behind the plans.

He is due to head to New York City for the next leg of the tour, which will include meetings with former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and left-wing mayor Bill de Blasio over the coming days.

Published: Tuesday 10th February 2015 by The News Editor

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